If at First You Don't Succeed

The Victorian-era rhyme for children written by T. H. Palmer went, “'Tis a lesson you should heed./ Try, try again;/ If at first you don't succeed,/ try, try again;/ Then your courage should appear,/ For, if you will persevere,/ You will conquer, Never fear;/ Try, try again.”


If you're still having a hard time with your OCD symptoms, or are experiencing more depression than you had before, your medication could be at least partly to blame. See your prescribing doctor about a change in dosage or prescription, and don't wait.

'Tis a lesson we all should heed. Subduing a problem, or learning any new skill, takes practice and patience, both with yourself and with the process. You will almost certainly experience your share of false starts and even reverses. Just remember, if and when this happens, to “get up off the mat,” as they say, and try, try again. With enough effort, you will succeed. (And do remember that it's also possible that the method you're using — cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, neurofeedback, or another treatment — isn't right for you; in that case, you may want to look for a different practitioner, or try something else entirely.)

Never Fear?

It's said that we are born with only two fears: falling and loud noises. (However, such a hypothesis would be all but impossible to prove.) Still, virtually everyone harbors some kind of fear. The numbers of “fearless flying” and public speaking classes attests to the fact that you are not the only person in the world who is afraid of things. Indeed, you'd have a hard time finding anyone who wasn't afraid of at least something. Your particular fears may be unusual, but there are few, if any, humans who experience no fears whatsoever.

A Little Trick

When going into a difficult situation, it may help to pretend that you are on a dangerous mission or that you have an audience. Don't forget your “secret weapon”: your sense of humor. Entering into a potentially frightening situation would definitely be the time to deploy it! Read about “Improbable Mission” in Chapter 18, and imagine a commentator describing your actions and progress, step by step, and fans cheering you on.

The Buddy System

If you can find a friend who also has OCD (perhaps through a local support group or OC Foundation affiliate), you might be able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement; for example, you agree to accompany her as she tries out new situations, if she will do the same for you. It could be fun: for instance, your friend goes to see a play with you, and you go on a drive with her. You could alternate (an activity of her choice one month, an activity of your choice the next), and make regular plans together. Practicing CBT doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it will probably be a lot easier if you can make it more of a game. And it will probably be less frightening if you also have a friend along who can help, or at least lend support. Most difficult tasks become easier when they're shared.

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