The brain is an incredibly complicated machine whose function is to generate feelings and sensations that help us communicate with the world. When it works correctly, it’s easy to assume that “it is me.” But when the brain starts sending false messages that you cannot readily recognize as false, as happens with OCD, havoc can ensue.
This is where mindful awareness, the ability to recognize these messages as false, can help. [We’ve] learned from OCD patients that everyone has the capacity to use the power of observation to make behavioral corrections in the face of the brain’s false and misleading messages. It’s like listening to a radio station that’s jammed with static. If you don’t listen closely, you may hear things that are misleading or make no sense. But if you make an effort to listen closely, you’ll hear things the casual listener misses entirely—especially if you’ve been trained to listen. Properly instructed in what to do in the face of confusing messages, you can find reality in the midst of chaos.
I like to say, “It’s not how you feel, but what you do, that counts.” Because when you do the right things. feelings tend to improve as a matter of course. But spend too much time being overly concerned about uncomfortable feelings, and you may never get around to doing what it takes to actually improve. Focus your attention on the mental and physical actions that will improve your life.