How to stop intrusive thoughts from ruining your day :Three step action plan!


You wake up with a calm and good mood, you enjoy the first rays of sunshine while sipping your morning tea and have an action-packed to-do list to complete. You are energetic regarding your day but then you hear the news reporter going by the daily news like ”A teenager met with an accident on his way to school” and you go numb. 


This creepy little thought that chants “What if this happens to my child?” creates havoc inside your otherwise calm mind and you can’t think straight for a couple of minutes,


OR


You are on your way to the office, happily going by the day. You stand at the bus stop to take the bus as per your routine when suddenly a disturbing thought of pushing that granny, standing beside you, in front of the bus creeps into your mind. And you are stunned by the thought. 

And in this way, unfortunately, your mood and your thought process is ruined by an “Intrusive thought”

How-to-deal-with-intrusive-thoughts

What are intrusive thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are uninvited, unwanted, bizarre thoughts that slide into our minds without a warning or sign and always leave us distressed, worried, and in a shocked, negative zone.


They can occur as a result of witnessing or viewing some bizarre things like crime stories, hearing some bad news or can even come to our minds RANDOMLY.

Yes! Totally random. 


You may be busy in your daily tasks and chores when the thought of screaming violently in the public or kidnapping someone can pop into your mind and you may be left scratching your head as to what caused the thought.


That’s what they are, there can be triggers that cause them or there can be no triggers at all and the latter is what disturbs most of the people having them.  

Thoughts have powers and so do intrusive thoughts but 

What gives them power?

Your attention to the thought. The more you ponder over it, the more intense and disturbing it becomes. The more desperately you try to shun it away, the more fiercely it sticks to your mind. 


Don’t leave it unattended and don't suppress it but don’t over-attend the thoughts. Confused? 

You won’t be at the end of this article.

Who experiences this kind of thought?

Everybody. 

Ok if that’s an exaggeration. Majority of us do!

But then why does the intensity of one’s thought differs from another?

Because of the degree of their ability to digest the thought.

A mentally healthy person can brush the thought off like every other thought he/she has, albeit the disturbance the thought causes. 


Anxiety-caused-from-intrusive-thoughts

But a person who’s already mentally unhealthy like a person with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and OCD will have a hard time getting over the thought. 


Must read: Overcome anxiety with ease with these 8 super simple yet effective tips.

Take my previous example of the teen for instance, 

If you are a person with no anxiety, then once your rational mind bounces back at the distressing thought and your mind is now a bit cleared up, you just think to yourself “What the heck did I just think?” and you just brush 

off the thought, say a prayer for your child's safety and get back to your routine.


BUT If you are a person with anxiety then you may panic, chances are you may even make your child skip school for the day or two and would ruin your day thinking about just that.

It’s as normal and as severe as you and your mental ability could take.

What causes them?

As I said, they are either caused by triggers or they can just pop out of nowhere. 

Personally, I feel that sufferers from PTSD(post-traumatic stress disorder) and OCD are more prone to the severity of these type of thoughts as they’re always alarmed because of their past trauma and/or their urge to complete their obsession relatively.


Do you need to STOP them?

Or let me just rephrase it like this,

Can you stop them?

The answer is “NO”. 

You cannot stop the thought process, no matter what type of thoughts they are. Good, bad, ugly, worse, traumatic. 


Plus if you are an overthinker, then even getting into the crowd as a distraction might not even help as a rescue. And the fact is that we do not need to stop those thoughts. We need to learn to handle them!

Also, I always believe that the very first help to yourself is YOU. I agree that talk therapy and counselling and friends might help but unless you decide to become your own rescuer, every help might fell a little short. 


Of course, this is my personal opinion and you are free to contradict.

Anyways, let’s get back to our initial topic.

So the big question remains. If you cannot stop the thought, them how to get rid of them?


Intrusive thoughts

What can be done?

Here comes my three-step formula for getting rid of these thoughts

1-Identify

On average, a human brain processes more than 60,000 thoughts per day. Not every thought is an intrusive thought. You may experience a positive thought process, random thoughts, funny thoughts and this devil of a thought. 


To make these thoughts ineffective, distinguish them from your normal thoughts so as to stop reoccurrences of the same kind of thought and to stop them from messing up with your mind.

You need to first distinguish them from your normal thoughts and identify them as intrusive thoughts.


As soon as an alien distressing thought creeps up into your mind, target them(of course in your mind) and repeat “they are intrusive thoughts and they are baseless” in your mind. Recognizing them plays a major role in defeating these thoughts.

2-Accept

To more you try to dissect and analyze the thoughts, the more it gets stronger and repetitive.

Instead, just accept the thought as something irrelevant that popped into your head and tell yourself that it's nothing to worry about.

Once you accept it as any random thought, the effect of the thought automatically nullifies.


Because you just showed the “I don’t care” attitude and thus your brain relaxes and dumps the thought as just any other thought.

3-Engage(not with the thought!)

You are relaxed now but that doesn’t stop the repetition of the thought. To ensure that, you need to engage yourself with something that is reassuring, peaceful and something that can easily take off your mind from the very existence of the thought.

I think the lines “Do what makes you happy” fit perfectly here.

And engage in the task mindfully. Mindfulness is the key here.


These steps are bound to help but if you are suffering from any mental illness, then a therapist can help you better. Of course, you are your first aid and everything comes second. But first-aid can’t totally help and that too in a case that needs an operation.

You get my point?


The phrase “you are what you think” gone wrong

The most disastrous belief people often associate with this kind of thoughts( or any thought in general) is the phrase mentioned above. We think that if the thought has originated from our minds, then for sure we are a bad person at roots and this misconception leads to shame and in case of mental illness, as extreme as isolation too. 


But we need to understand that we give the thoughts power, otherwise they are just thoughts. 


We are not what we think, but the way we act upon what we think. 

It’s the action that matters and we all know that we may never act upon something as absurd as an intrusive thought.


Remember intrusive thought is not equal to the subconscious mind. 

They are meaningless

They are powerless

They are useless

They are not you. They are the opposite of you.



How to get rid of intrusive thoughts

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