Imagine walking home late at night with a sexy new date after a fancy meal. Things go so well that you believe this guy can be “the one.” And then it happens—obtrusive thinking. You recall a time when an ex-lover caused you pain, and you begin to wonder. You’ll be replaying the whole night in your mind before you know it, down to the last word and expression. You were lost in the depths of your mind on the way home in the taxi. Does this ring a bell? Intrusive thoughts are a fascinating can of worms that can deprive you of joy.
What Is an Intrusive thought, exactly?
On every given day, you have a constant stream of thoughts spinning about in your head. Most of these thoughts happen without your knowledge. They do occur. The vast majority of these ideas pass you by unnoticed. They come and go, and they barely affect your conscious state. You are already familiar with the act of noticing your emotions if you have ever attempted a form of meditation. Meditation makes you aware of your feelings, so you don’t deal with them. You take a seat and keep an eye on what’s going on around you. Intrusive emotions are not the same as other types of thoughts. Intrusive Thoughts race to the forefront of your attention, where they remain for a long time. They rely on your undivided attention, and that you obsess over them. Anyone who has ever had recurring thoughts may feel as though they have taken over their life. If intrusive feelings were of unicorns, rainbows, or the joyful feeling you get when listening to your favourite tune, this would be great. Intrusive feelings, on the other hand, are almost invariably unwelcome. They can be linked to profound suffering you’ve suffered in the past. In other moments, they can be linked to deep despair you’ve suffered in the past. On most occasions, they’re completely out of the blue and very upsetting.
What Causes Them?
Although it’s perfectly natural to have Intrusive Thoughts now and again, the real issue arises when we begin to obsess and stress over them. As a result, it’s no wonder that repetitive feelings are linked to depressive problems and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although unwanted thoughts may arise at any time, they are usually influenced by a person’s own life experiences or responses to a case. Someone might, for example, see a burglary storey on their local news channel. This article may trigger paranoid thoughts that a burglar is breaking into their own house.
Types of intrusive thoughts
Sexually intrusive thoughts
Most people, regardless of gender, give sex a lot of thought. It’s entirely normal. However, if you’re embarrassed by these feelings or believe that possessing them makes you a bad guy, you might get fixated on them. Remember that your thoughts are just that: thoughts. They don’t determine who you are as individuals, no matter how surprising or frequent they are. People also have repetitive feelings about their sexual or gender identity. It can be a lengthy and difficult journey to figure out who you are. It’s overwhelming, so, understandably, you’d be worrying about it a tone. People with OCD are often prone to obsessing about feelings that don’t appear to suit their identity.
Self-critical feelings are a typical symptom of depression. It’s quick to get caught on negative feelings like (I’m such a loser) or “I’ll never amount to something” while you’re down. These feelings can be so emotionally charged that they feel more like reality than distracting thoughts.
Thoughts on deception
You could be suffering from paranoia if the feelings are strange or paranoid. You might believe, for example, that the FBI is following your every move or that someone is attempting to poison you. You might also be able to see or hear something that no one else is aware of. Psychosis is a symptom of psychiatric illnesses such as dementia and bipolar disorder. Drugs can also lead to psychosis.
Other intrusive thoughts
These are only a few examples of typical intrusive thoughts. There are numerous others. The most important thing to remember is that unwanted feelings happen to you, not something that determines you. If you suspect you may be suffering from one of the mental illnesses mentioned above, take one of our mental health tests to see if you’re at risk.
How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts
1. Don’t stifle your thoughts
When confronted with an unwelcome thought, many people’s first instinct is to dismiss it. Unfortunately, this approach has the reverse effect: it causes you to worry about the distracting thought much further. This was illustrated in an experiment by Daniel Wegner, a Harvard University psychology professor. Guess what happened when he asked participants in the study not to worry about white bears for 5 minutes? On average, the participants thought of white bears more than once a minute. Rather than actively ignoring your thoughts, strive to divert your mind away from them by engaging in an enjoyable task. Try solving a crossword puzzle or reading a novel, for example. Check to see if you’re going between several roles. Immerse yourself completely in a single task to make sure it has nothing to do with the distracting feeling. If you’re having disturbing feelings of suicide, for example, it’s not a good idea to distract your mind by reading a murder mystery.
2. You should become aware when you experience an intrusive thought
Recognizing that you have unwanted feelings is the first step in resolving them. Mindfulness is one approach that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in this regard. For some years, I’ve been doing meditation. It started as a way to relieve anxiety and tension. Still, as I’ve continued to practice it, I’ve noticed that meditation and the mindfulness it promotes has had a significant impact on many facets of my life. One of them is dealing with repetitive feelings. Before acting on your thoughts, mindfulness gives you an extra moment or two of insight. When you have a distracting idea, you should pause, remember that it’s just a silly thought, and then ignore it.
3. Recognize the contrast between what one thinks and what one sees
Many individuals with intrusive thoughts are concerned about acting on a dark intrusive idea, such as hurting someone they care about. They want to know what these feelings mean, and they want confirmation that they won’t act on them. Intrusive thoughts, on the other hand, are just that – emotions. No matter what your OCD or anxiety leads you to think, these feelings are not an indication of what’s to come, and there’s no intention to act on them. Allow these ideas as mere thoughts as they emerge with this in mind. Please enable them to flow freely into the consciousness, accepting them but refusing to be consumed by them. You’ll be less likely to think about distracting feelings if you treat them like any other thought.
4. Talk it out and don’t rule out therapy
Many people are embarrassed to admit they have obsessive thoughts, and they may even feel guilty about it. They try to deal with their feelings alone, keeping them away from others. Going over your emotions with someone you know, on the other hand, can be extremely helpful. You can gain a new perspective on your situation by being honest and transparent about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. For certain people, conversing with a stranger is better than talking with someone they trust. Therapy may be a viable option in this situation. There are several forms of counselling available, both individually and in groups. Be sure you do your homework and consider all of your choices. We all have intrusive feelings from time to time. You will conquer the distracting emotions with a little concentration and determination. Your willingness to resist the temptation to think and fret over them will determine your success.