How to tackle intrusive thoughts

Okay, so I want to talk about a subject that many people live with but are too ashamed to talk about. I want to talk about intrusive thoughts.

Intrusive thoughts are nasty. They are categorised as an extreme form of anxious thinking that leads the person to become very worried about.

They are repetitive, unwanted and often very scary due to the fact that these kind of thoughts usually involve something socially unacceptable, violent sexual or totally unacceptable.

They often come about as an off shoot of anxiety. When you’re anxious, you tend to have extra adrenalin pumping around your body which makes negative or scary thoughts more likely.

The anxiety builds up until one day a thought comes into your mind that completely side swipes you.

You might suddenly think about shouting in a church, jumping out a car, pushing someone out a window, flushing the fish down the toilet.

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Some of us can brush these thoughts off as weird and move on but others will become shocked by the idea that they had the thought.

And in a world full of safeguarding, over sensitivity and being ‘PC’. You may be worried about even mentioning what is going on in your mind.

What are the different types of intrusive thoughts.

Thoughts of being aggressive.

These usually involve fearing that you may harm yourself/others. They happen mostly to people who have never harmed anyone and would even dream of it.

Intrusive thoughts about family members.

Thoughts about family members usually involve wondering what your sibling looks like naked, wondering what might happen if you become attracted to a family member etc. They usually happen around about the time when you are beginning to explore yourself as a sexual person. It is a sign of development but unfortunately some people think that there is something wrong when them when these thoughts appear in their minds.

Thoughts about completely inappropriate things

These thoughts are usually about things that are seen as completely unacceptable like being attracted to someone under the legal age of consent. You might fear that what you are thinking will become real for you and you might actually want to do those things one day if the thoughts don’t stop.

Thoughts about children

Some parents, especially those who may be experiencing post natal depression can become really disturbed by thoughts about their children. These usually involve fears about not liking the child or fears about losing control and harming them. Some parents also have intense fears about the child not liking them.

Intrusive thoughts about children can be particularly nasty because we live in a world where we are surrounded by images of happy families. Some parents may be too scared to talk about their thoughts because they fear that they might be seen as bad parents if they do.

Why do we get intrusive thoughts and how to deal with them.

First of all, its helpful to see intrusive thoughts as a symptom of a wider anxiety that you might be experiencing.

You can take the sting out of your thoughts by understanding that thinking is what minds do. They are designed to run content through your brain and most of the thoughts that appear in your mind are not invited by you. They just turn up.

You don’t actually have to pay any attention to them. There is no difference between a good thought and a bad thought, the only difference is the content. Because our thoughts come from our own minds, often people make the mistake of thinking that they have to believe those thoughts.

I suppose its logical, if those thoughts came from you then they must be real, right? Wrong. Your thoughts are not you. They are just mental processes. You have on average, 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day.

You cant possibly remember all of our thoughts which mean that the ones that you do remember are the ones that we have chosen to focus on.

Secondly, remember that the very fact that these thoughts are bothering you is a good thing.

Whilst doing or wanting to carry out your intrusive thoughts is not okay, the thoughts themselves are completely normal.

More importantly, if you’ve had a bad thought about hurting someone and this has really upset you then that suggests that although a bad thought entered your mind, you have responded to it appropriately on a moral, social and emotional level. It would be far more worrying if you liked the idea and didn’t feel empathy towards the person that you might hurt.

The third thing that you can do is talk about it.

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This is really hard because, of course, you might be worried about peoples reactions. But you’ll be surprised to learn that pretty much everyone on the planet has had an intrusive thought at some point in their lives.

The final way to tackle intrusive thoughts is to STOP PUSHING THEM AWAY.

Of course, this is hard because you don’t want these thoughts, but by trying to push them away, you are engaging with them and by engaging with them, you’re giving them power. Imagine a child having a tantrum, if you argue with the child the battle goes on but if you ignore them, they might shout louder to start with but eventually they run out of steam, get bored and stop.

All of these tactics can slowly get you to a point where you actually don’t notice the thoughts as much. Yes they are there but you can experience them and then continue to live your life.

If you feel that you can tackle your thoughts on your own, then great. However, if you feel that you need some help and guidance. Then give me a call on 07525051263, i’d be happy to help.