Intrusive damn thoughts. What I would do to live without them. Intrusive thoughts are automatic, anxiety provoking thoughts that often take the front line of many mental health disorders. They can sometimes occur out of the blue or from a triggering situation. They initially come as just a thought, like how any other thought would enter our mind, but it’s how we end up perceiving it that changes it to an intrusive thought. We immediately allow this thought to have importance and that’s what gives it the true power to cause turmoil. For example, if I was to have the intrusive thought ‘my family are going to die’ I would immediately start to freak out and try everything in my power to stop this from coming true. That could be ritualising, checking, asking. Anything that I thought would combat this thought. The crucial thing here is that I allowed the thought to gain importance in my mind, I immediately took it as fact. When, in reality, it’s just a thought. Nothing more than a thought that has entered my mind. It was how I perceived and acted upon it that gave it the ability to control me. Every single person in this world has intrusive thoughts every single day. It’s a natural thing! It’s very common for out of the ordinary thoughts to just spring into our minds unexpectedly. However there are two ways that you can deal with them.
- Letting the thought go. Brushing it off, maybe having a bit of a laugh at how strange and unlike you the thought was and move on.
- Immediately analysing the thought and accepting it as truth. Attaching it to your personality, ‘I must be a bad person if I have thoughts like this’ and then ruminating on the thought consequently making certain behaviors increase.
I myself and I’m sure quite a few others end up struggling with the latter. We allow our thoughts to have too much significance. Now I’m not saying that all thoughts should become insignificant to us, because that probably wouldn’t be too good! However, there are automatic thoughts that we can learn to perceive differently and consequently benefiting us. Your thoughts do not define you. The nature of your intrusive thoughts does not define you. When you notice yourself having an intrusive thought and allowing it importance, take a minute to step back and evaluate the thought.
- Is this thought logical? Is this really going to happen? Do I have control over this thought’s situation?
- Stop the thought in it’s tracks. Question it. Thoughts are not facts.
- Imagine the thought as something physical (e.g a piece of paper) and pick it up as if you’ve just removed this thought from your mind. It ain’t needed! Scrunch it up and throw it the hell away.
- Alternatively, just sit with the thought. Try to ignore it, blast music, dance, run, do anything to distract you. This will result in the thought naturally fading away (as it most definitely will if you don’t allow it the importance!)
- Guided mediation can also be very helpful if you have the appropriate time and space to do it.
The nature of intrusive thoughts is that they strive off attention. If we give them attention then they gain authority. I know I’m repeating myself a lot here, but it’s the crucial bit! We’re not just immediately going to go from struggling with intrusive thoughts, to being able to ignore and let them all go, over night. It’s a process. Even if you’re just able to talk back to the thought a small bit, that’s still progress. Over time it will get easier, until we notice an intrusive thought creeping in and we can just be like “Nope! Don’t need you, bye bye. You’re just a thought, moving swiftly on!” and then just carrying on with our day, and even if at times we do allow an intrusive thought importance. We know how to get ourselves out of that cycle and get that intrusive thought moving on its way out of our lives!
What we give importance to, gains power. Be careful with what that is.
My little quote above!