Ways to deal with intrusive thoughts

What are intrusive thoughts?

A lot of people experience intrusive thoughts such as unwanted and frequently unpleasant thoughts and images. You might suddenly think about a mistake or a worry, or the content could be violent or sexual at times. Although having an intrusive thought every now and then is a normal part of life, you might feel upset when it does.

Thoughts that are intrusive frequently have no clear purpose. It’s okay to have intrusive thoughts as long as you understand that they are just that—thoughts—and you don’t feel any urge to act on them. The best course of action is to consult a psychologist if they occur frequently, raise serious concerns, or interfere with your normal activities.

Types of intrusive thoughts

There are numerous types of intrusive thoughts. Some individuals may have disturbing ideas about:

  • Infections, contamination, or other types of harmful bacteria
  • Aggression, violence, or causing harm to others
  • Doubts about being a bad person for practicing religion or leaving tasks unfinished
  • Acting inappropriately or saying the wrong thing in public or engaging in sexual activity

Symptoms of intrusive thoughts include:

  • Fear of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • OCD

What is the cause of harmful intrusive thoughts?

Because your mind is the strongest component of you, it will always influence your life. Your beliefs and ideas are the basis of all of your actions, decisions, and behaviours. The result is that every aspect of your life will be impacted if you tend to believe your intrusive thoughts. Everyone has unwanted thoughts that are the thing. 

Changing or controlling our thoughts can be particularly difficult. You should, however, react appropriately in order to deal with your unwanted thoughts. You can determine which of your thoughts are rational and which are irrational, so you are not required to believe in every thought you have.

How to stop Intrusive thoughts?

While preventing intrusive thoughts may not always be possible, doing so isn’t always the intended goal. Instead, you might think about concentrating on techniques for reducing their intensity and establishing some mental distance from the thought. To feel in control of your thoughts rather than having them controls you is the objective.

  1. Deal with your issues

Your bothersome thoughts keep coming back because you won’t deal with the current problem. Perhaps a past trauma or a difficult childhood is to blame for your symptoms. Both of these situations are challenging to remain in, and even though they happened in the past, it’s simple to feel traumatized by them even now. You must address the source of your issues if you want to stop having repetitive, over thinking thoughts. 

Face your trauma or whatever issue you haven’t dealt with yet; even if it’s unsettling and frightening, it’s necessary. Otherwise, you’ll continue to suppress your thoughts, which will result in intrusive thoughts that are challenging to manage.

2. Practicing mindfulness

Learning to observe your thoughts calmly and without judgment or emotional involvement is one of the fundamental concepts of mindfulness. As a matter of fact, you’re not denying the presence of the intrusive thoughts; instead, you’re just altering your relationship with them.

3. Visualization strategies

If you visualize your thoughts, you might feel more in control of them. You could visualize your mind as a clear sky and your thoughts as moving clouds, for instance. There are both dark and light clouds, but none of them lasts very long. 

Thought clouds are a mindfulness technique that can be applied in non-meditation situations.

4. Make a journal for your worries

In the sense that you have a place to put all of your thoughts and can use it to stop intrusive thoughts, keeping an anxiety journal can be beneficial. Without determining which of your thoughts are true, both rational and irrational, can be written down. Honestly, doing this is the most effective way to stop thinking, especially repetitive thoughts. You’ll remember having had this thought before if you write them down right away in case that thought reappears. 

The chance to consider the pattern underlying your irrational thoughts is also a great one at this time. You will be aware of what to anticipate with each thought if you recognize that they are based on your trauma, for example.

5. Speak with a counsellor

Always feel free to speak with a counsellor. When it comes to controlling your thoughts, there is nothing wrong with getting professional assistance. Receiving the assistance, you require could end these thoughts once and for all because learning how to stop intrusive thoughts can be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. The most important thing is that a counsellor will give you suggested coping skills for handling your challenging thoughts.

When to get counselling

Consult a mental health professional if unwanted thoughts start to interfere with your daily activities, especially if they make it difficult for you to work or enjoy your favourite activities. However, you can still see someone to get help even if intrusive thoughts aren’t significantly impacting your life.

One method that is frequently effective in assisting people in managing intrusive thoughts is cognitive behavioural therapy. Your general thought patterns may be altered as a result of the process, allowing you to better control these thoughts when they do arise and possibly reducing their frequency. By addressing the underlying issue, such as anxiety, stress, or a personal history of trauma, intrusive thoughts can also be controlled.

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