The Refocus step is where the real work is done. In the beginning, you may think of it as the "no pain, no gain" step. Mental exercise is like a physical workout. In Refocusing, you have work to do: You must shift the gears yourself. With effort and focused mindfulness, you are going to do what the caudate nucleus normally does easily and automatically, which is to let you know when to switch to another behavior. Think of a surgeon scrubbing his hands before surgery: The surgeon doesn't need to wait for a timer to go off to know when it's time to stop scrubbing. After a while, the behavior is simply automatic. After a while he gets a "feel" for when he's scrubbed enough. But people with OCD can't get the feeling that something is done once it's done. The automatic pilot is broken. Fortunately, doing the Four Steps can usually fix it.
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With compulsive behaviors, simply observing the fifteen-minute rule with consistency and Refocusing on another behavior will usually cause the Revalue step to kick in, which means realizing that the feeling is not worth paying attention to and not taking it at face value, remembering that it's OCD and that it is caused by a medical problem. The result is that you place a much lower value on--devalue--the OCD feeling. For obsessive thoughts, you must try to enhance this process by Revaluing in an even more active way. Two substeps--the two A's--aid you in Step 2: Reattribute: Anticipate and Accept. When you use these two A's, you are doing Active Revaluing. Anticipate means "be prepared," know the feeling is coming, so be ready for it; don't be taken by surprise. Accept means don't waste energy beating yourself up because you have these bad feelings. You know what's causing them and that you have to work around them. Whatever the content of your obsession--whether it is violent or sexual or is manifested in one of dozens of other ways--you know that it can occur hundreds of times a day. You want to stop reacting each time as though it were a new thought, something unexpected. Refuse to let it shock you; refuse to let it get you down on yourself. By anticipating your particular obsessive thought, you can recognize it the instant it occurs and Relabel it immediately. You will simultaneously, and actively, Revalue it. When the obsession occurs, you will be prepared. You will know, "That's just my stupid obsession. It has no meaning. That's just my brain. There's no need to pay attention to it." Remember: You can't make the thought go away, but neither do you need to pay attention to it. You can learn to go on to the next behavior. There is no need to dwell on the thought. Move ahead. This is where the second A--Accept--comes in. Think of the screaming car alarm that disturbs and distracts you. Don't dwell on it. Don't say, "I can't do another thing until that blankety-blank car alarm shuts off." Simply try to ignore it and get on with things.
Four Steps to Success - Tina B. Tessina
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The goal of the first three steps is to use your knowledge of OCD as a medical condition caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain to help you clarify that this feeling is not what it appears to be and to refuse to take the thoughts and urges at face value, to avoid performing compulsive rituals, and to Refocus on constructive behaviors. You can think of the Relabel and Reattribute steps as a team effort, working together with the Refocusing step. The combined effect of these three steps is much greater than the sum of their individual parts. The process of Relabeling and Reattributing intensifies the learning that takes place during the hard work of Refocusing. As a result, you begin to Revalue those thoughts and urges that, before behavior therapy, would invariably lead you to perform compulsive behaviors. After adequate training in the first three steps, you are able in time to place a much lower value on the OCD thoughts and urges.
Four Steps to Successful Delegation
We have used the concept of the "Impartial Spectator," developed by 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith, to help you understand more clearly what you are actually achieving while performing the Four Steps of cognitive biobehavioral therapy. Smith described the Impartial Spectator as being like a person inside us who we carry around at all times, a person aware of all our feelings, states, and circumstances. Once we make the effort to strengthen the Impartial Spectator's perspective, we can call up our own Impartial Spectator at any time and literally watch ourselves in action. In otherwords, we can witness our own actions and feelings as someone not involved would, as a disinterested observer. As Smith described it, "We suppose ourselves the spectators of our own behavior." He understood that keeping the perspective of the Impartial Spectator clearly in mind, which is essentially the same as using mindful awareness, is hard work, especially under painful circumstances, and requires the "utmost and most fatiguing exertions.". The hard work of which he wrote seems closely related to the intense efforts you must make in performing the Four Steps.
Four Steps To Success - Cornell Turfgrass
Sometimes the urge will be too strong, and you will perform the compulsion. This is not an invitation to beat yourself up. Keep in mind: As you do the Four Steps and your behavior changes, your thoughts and feelings will also change. If you give in and perform a compulsion after a time delay and an attempt to Refocus, make a special effort to continue to Relabel the behavior and to acknowledge that this time the OCD overwhelmed you. Remind yourself "I'm not washing my hands because they are dirty, but because of my OCD. The OCD won this round, but next time I'll wait longer." In this way, even performing a compulsive behavior can contain an element of behavior therapy. This is very important to realize: Relabeling a compulsive behavior as a compulsive behavior is a form of behavior therapy and is much better than doing a compulsion without making a clear mental note about what it is.