My OCD became my superpower

My OCD became my superpower

Gemma Holmes Cognitive Hypnotherapy OCDBetween the ages of 5 and 10, I had two phases of being controlled by OCD. The one I remember the most seemed to be triggered by the misinterpretation I made about what my Sunday School teacher had told me. I am sure these weren’t her words, but what I took as the meaning went along the lines of “If you don’t like everyone you are a bad person… and bad people go to hell”. There was someone at the time that I did not like. I cannot remember for the life of me who that person was, but it clearly concerned me greatly that I had bad feelings towards someone and was therefore doomed to join all other bad people in the devil’s fiery pit.

Over time, this concern began to plague my thoughts and actions and resulted in obsessive hand washing and daily rituals. The OCD I experienced was unfortunately not the tidying type – I lived in a very messy room with a ‘floordrobe’ of clothes, but rather I had to tighten all the taps before I went to sleep to stop the house from flooding, and I had to say good night to each member of my family in exactly the same way. I suspect the hand washing was an attempt to cleanse myself of the bad thoughts, the rest an attempt to control everything around me so that I wasn’t a bad person who could cause the world to crumble.

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Mind strategies to deal with toxic work colleagues

Mind strategies to deal with toxic work colleagues

This is not an HR blog so I write this assuming you already know the practical steps to take to call out unacceptable behaviour and the people to escalate situations to if colleagues are causing you unnecessary grief. This blog offers some additional ways to use your mind to help you thrive in spite of toxic colleagues.

So, you are a dedicated, hardworking person trying to thrive as your professional self. But there are people around you who are making that so much harder to achieve. You have much more control over your own behaviour than you do over the behaviour of others, so how can you best deal with these people in your mind to stop them from being a barrier to your success?

Pause and regain control before responding

Firstly, remember that no-one has the power to ruin your day unless you let them. People around you can be as negative, difficult and dramatic as they please, but that can only impact your mood and your actions if you give them that power. There is a small period of time between witnessing something and taking action where your mind computes how to respond. Try to spot that tiny moment next time someone is being difficult and remind yourself that you can choose whether to let them impact you or not.

I’m not saying this is easy and it really does take some practice, but it will become easier the more you consciously stop, breathe and remind yourself who is in control of your thoughts and actions before you take the next step. Once that difficult person realises that you consistently do not rise to their bate, they will hopefully get bored and redirect their negative energy elsewhere.

It’s also an outward sign to anyone else witnessing it of your professionalism and ability to handle difficult situations. If you can respond with humility, control and reason, you will come out smelling of roses.

Remember it’s about them, not you

More often than not, if you feel someone is being disproportionately difficult or negative, it means there’s something going on for them that is fuelling their behaviour. Often it’s a case of “it’s not me, it’s you”! This doesn’t mean never taking responsibility for outcomes, but it does make it easier to handle unprofessional behaviour from others if you remind yourself they are going through their own stuff and it’s not personal. Even if that isn’t true and they’re in a great place and just choosing to be difficult, does that matter? If assuming there’s more to their behaviour makes it easier to let go and move on to something that is important to you, then that can only be a good thing.

Put up your sh*t shield

If you find you are easily drained by the negativity of others, like you work with a bunch of energy vampires who suck the positivity out of everything, then it’s time to deploy your sh*t shield. If you had a shield that you could put up that meant the negativity of others just bounced right off without effecting you at all, what would it look like? What would it be made of and what colour would it be? Would it be something you put up or something that was with you all the time? Perhaps it would be a suit of armour, or a superhero costume? For me, I imagine a cloak that is made of special fabric so that only positive vibes can come through but negative ones are blocked. The simple act of imagining donning this cloak means I can enter a dreaded meeting feeling more in control of my emotions and resilient to the actions of others. Bring out your sh*t shield to stop those vampires from being able to drain you of your positivity.

Find them fascinating

If you change your mindset from annoyance to fascination, where you observe their behaviour and find it interesting from a social study perspective, this will enable emotional detachment. This detachment will mean you can be present to their negative attitude and behaviour without taking it on as anything to do with you. Personally, I find this a really effective strategy because I can be curious about what they will get up to next rather than dreading it happening. Imagine you are watching their behaviour on a reality TV show and can observe it as an outsider to give you that detachment from their negativity.

You may have noticed that all of these tips involve you taking the moral high ground and changing your mindset. This can seem unfair that you have to make the changes when it’s the other person being difficult. But that’s what having an internal locus of control is all about. Ultimately the only thing we have complete control over is how we handle a situation, and we are already making unconscious choices to let them negatively impact us. These techniques are a few ways to consciously make different choices to serve you better, and the more you apply them the more they will become your natural response. Apply these strategies regularly and that toxic colleague will lose all power over you and your emotions.

If you would like to discuss how my blend of online Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Coaching can help you create more positive mind patterns to thrive in and outside of work, get in touch to book a free discovery call.

The 5-step formula to fulfilment

The 5-step formula to fulfilment

Who doesn’t want a fulfilled life? My bet is that no-one would opt for an unfulfilled life if they felt they had a choice. In my experience, there are two common reasons people don’t live fulfilled lives. The first is that current circumstances are genuinely too challenging and simply surviving each day is everything that’s possible. But the second, for those who don’t live in those extreme situations and do have capacity to make change, is that people don’t know the steps to take to get started.

The Fulfilment Five is my formula that you can use to help you get started on your track to more fulfilled living.

Step 1: accept responsibility

Only you know which of the above two circumstances is true for you. The vast majority of us live in the second camp and either don’t know how or haven’t taken the time to really invest in ourselves. Most of us could create the time we need to develop ourselves if we were to prioritise our own wellbeing over other things. The first step to living a fulfilled life is knowing and believing that you are the only person who can create fulfilment for yourself. Anything that anyone else does on your behalf will only have a surface level impact on your life and the little glow it gave you will fade away in time. Only when you accept that the key to your happiness is in your hands and is based on the decisions you make and the way you respond to and create your world, will you be on track to genuine and sustainable fulfilment.

Step 2: know what you want

Once you’ve decided to take control of your destiny, the next step is to understand what you want, and you need to be specific. Vague ideas and loose goals will not get you where you want to be – and that, I am assuming, is living a fulfilled and happy life. So, ask yourself, if you were truly fulfilled and living your life as your best self, what would your life look like? What would you be spending your time and energy on? How would you be engaging with others? What would you be achieving? If this is hard to envisage, it can help to look at it the other way. If you were in your rocking chair, old and happy at the end of your rich and satisfying life, what would you be looking back on and be proud to have done? Again, be specific. You’re looking to build a picture of a ‘future you’ that will act like a beacon to guide you forward.

Step 3: identify barriers

Now, assuming you’ve always wanted to be happy and fulfilled, there are reasons (beyond not knowing the first steps to take) why you haven’t achieved what you truly want so far. It’s now time to identify the perceived barriers to your fulfilment. The first things many of us think about here are financial or time limitations, which are important ones to consider. But if time and money were not limited, is there anything else that could be holding you back? As an example, are you surrounded by a supportive network of cheerleaders or are there doubters that you need to face/ignore? Identify all the possible barriers to you achieving what will make you feel fulfilled and then decide what action you can take to eradicate or minimise each barrier. It may be that you hold limiting beliefs about yourself as the result of a past experience that holds you back at a more unconscious level. If you think that might be the case then consider having an exploratory chat with a Cognitive Hypnotherapist who can help.

Step 4: feed your strengths

I have found both personally and through working with my clients that one of the most effective ways to live a more fulfilling life is to identify your character strengths and then fuel them on a regular basis. There is a great, free 15-minute scientific survey of character strengths. It is a central tool of positive psychology and identifies the core qualities that come most naturally to you and make up the unique individual that you are. There are 24 strengths and through this survey you can gain a unique character profile that will rank the strengths in order of their significance to you. Character strengths fall into six categories which are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Once you know your top strengths you have the key to what makes your heart sing. Do things that feed those strengths regularly and you’ll notice your wellbeing improve considerably. I was amazed at how many of my top character strengths I’d been abandoning before I trained as a therapist and learned about this stuff – it was no wonder I felt so flat!

Step 5: create new habits

The key to sustainable change is to create new positive habits that nudge you forwards to becoming the person you want to be, in small steps, every day. These don’t have to be huge life changes, in fact they need to be small enough to be possible but big enough to make a difference. Simple habits, built through repeated and consistent actions add up to incredible changes. Ultimately, results (and what we’re looking for here is a fulfilled and happy you) are defined by the choices you make each day. And consistency is key to shifting an act from a conscious one to an unconscious one. Once a habit becomes something you do unconsciously it’s so much easier to keep it up. Identify the positive habits that will help you achieve your goals and feed your strengths and enjoy the changes they bring.

If you’ve got to this point in the article then you’ve already acknowledged that the responsibility for your fulfilment lies with you and you’ve invested time in reading this and working out the formula to get you there. Follow these steps wholeheartedly and create the life you deserve.

If you’d like to discuss how my 1:1 online coaching programme could help you accelerate your way to fulfilled living, send me a message and we’ll arrange a time to chat.