Our breathing changes as our thoughts, feelings and behaviour change. As we become worried, excited, elated, depressed or aroused, our breathing becomes shorter, jerkier, longer, deeper, shallower or smoother. What if the reverse were true? What if our breathing could change our thoughts, feelings and behaviour? What if breathing the right way meant more personal excellence and less anxiety and anger?
OCD refers to obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviour. These can include obsessive thoughts around four types of vulnerabilities which are: 1) health and illness, 2) danger, 3) poverty and 4) losing control. Specifically, we can think obsessively about sex, death, relationships and contamination, amongst others. We may behave compulsively by cleaning, checking and double-checking, repeatedly asking our partner the same question, for example. We also tend to avoid certain situations which makes us feel particularly anxious. On a physical level, it is common to experience a tightness in our chests, shallow breathing, sweaty palms, palpitations, dizziness or brain fog when in the grips of obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviours. We may also generally feel low in mood, lonely, empty and tired because of our condition.
A common thread that runs through a lot of the issues my clients bring is validation. By validation I mean the process of being confirmed as ‘ok’, ‘acceptable’ or ‘good enough’. For many individuals this sense of being ‘ok’ is derived from others or how we imagine others think of us. We need others to consider us interesting in order for us to feel interesting. We need others to think that we are beautiful in order to feel beautiful. We need others to think that we are intelligent in order to feel intelligent. We need others to give us permission to feel ok before we give ourselves permission to feel ok.
I mentioned in my previous article on social anxiety that it was important to get as grounded as possible. When we feel anxious we tend to breathe more quickly and less fully. As a result we can become heady and have physical symptoms such as feeling dizzy, spaced out or numb. Consequently we no longer feel balanced and find it difficult to get in touch with other more supportive states that counter the anxious thoughts for example excitement, curiosity or confidence. Grounding involves being more in our bodies and less in our heads.