It is estimated that roughly 50,000 thoughts pass through our brain every day, and most of them are negative. Many women throughout their lives experience intrusive thoughts and urges of various types. They appear suddenly and unconsciously, frequently leaving them disturbed, scared, and worried. But it is our reaction and the way we handle them that allow them to cause us distress, not their mere occurrence. Here are five ways to stop the intrusive thoughts.
Control Your Mind
Various techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, as well as the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help you with intrusive thoughts. They can teach you to control your mind more effectively and prevent the random thoughts from galloping through your brain.
Disregard Your Thoughts
The more attention and analysis you give an intrusive thought, the more likely it is to get stuck in your mind. It is much more effective to let this thought be without focusing on it and without rejecting it. Neutralize it by not putting your attention on it. Just leave it alone, let it pass through your brain like 50,000 other thoughts today.
To disarm a negative thought, you have to reduce your emotional reaction to it, such fear, anger, or guilt. You can desensitize yourself from intrusive thoughts by treating them with positive affirmations. Even something as simple as “I am in control of my thoughts,” repeated whenever your mind is flooded by unwanted thoughts, can bring a relief.
The go-to method in psychology to treat intrusive thoughts is called exposure and response prevention, which teaches women how to remain in the presence of a trigger, such as a bad thought, and not react to it. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, on the other hand, is very helpful in identifying the unwanted thoughts and learning to transform them into positive and more conscious ones.
Antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs are used to treat severe cases of intrusive thoughts, which are caused by mental health illnesses, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs).
When Should I Be Concerned?
Most intrusive thoughts do not present any danger. As long as they happen occasionally, they can be ignored. But if they become obsessive and interfere with your life, you should learn to control them.
Sometimes, however, a thought about dying, hurting or killing oneself or others might become more frequent and persistent, in which case an immediate medical attention is recommended.
The common strategy of avoiding the intrusive thoughts or avoiding the situations that trigger them is not really effective. It is because avoidance puts a lot of attention and focus on the thoughts, and often when we avoid something, it becomes stronger. Learning how to stop clinging to them can forever free your mind from intrusive thoughts. For a good start, take a look at several relaxing activities that can keep your mood swings away.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). How to Take the Power Back from Intrusive Thought. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://adaa.org/blogs/how-to-take-power-back-intrusive-thoughts-ocd
- Anxiety Relief Solutions. (2017). How to Eliminate Intrusive Thoughts. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from http://anxietyreliefsolutions.com/how-to-eliminate-intrusive-thoughts/
- Intrusive thoughts. (n.d.). Symptoms. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.intrusivethoughts.org
- OCD UK. (n.d.). To help you understand Pure-O. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.ocduk.org/sites/default/files/understand-pure-o.pdf.pdf