Intrusive Thoughts: What Are They And How To Overcome Them!

Hannah Clark, Reporter

Everybody has thoughts, it’s a human thing, you know? However, what if someone’s thoughts aren’t “normal”…and what on earth are intrusive thoughts? Well, picture this: It’s a wonderful day, you’re minding your own business, simply enjoying life when a violent and/or disturbing vision of yourself hurting someone or something you love or doing something absolutely barbaric pops into your mind. Your anxiety bubbles up in your gut, churning your insides and making you sweat. You desperately try to drag your mind off the subject and strive to think of something else- but nothing works; the horrible thoughts only grow stronger the more you work to get rid of it, and after a while, you become more overtaken by these thoughts, and your usual, splendid days turn sour and dreary as you’re locked in your own, indecisive mind. That is an intrusive thought. They can be a little bothersome here and there, but others can turn your whole life upside down if you let it.

Four out of five people will suffer from intrusive thoughts, a lot more than some others, and these thoughts will become harder and harder to dismiss. So, they compulsively try to make them stop, with every fiber of their being, because deep down, they know they would never do such things; but they cannot escape the thoughts. These thoughts repeat over and over in their heads, faster and faster, making the fear we might act more real. For us humans, especially in today’s workaholic society, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are a constant struggle. To cope, we might form weird habits; withdraw from friends and family or avoid certain situations. Of course, this only makes the fear stir around when we’re all alone, and they form into obsessions. So, these intrusive thoughts are quite the menace, making matters worse for us when some of us are already struggling, with work, school, drama, etc.

If you are an individual who suffers from this, you may start to believe that since you are experiencing these thoughts. They mean that you are a bad person or that something is wrong with you. This article is here to show you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, you are human just like everybody else, and no matter what form they take, they are just thoughts, and they do not reflect you as a person. If you are beginning to suspect that you have intrusive thoughts or have been recently diagnosed, this helps you stand back from what is happening and give you some understanding.

Intrusive thoughts may be sexual, aggressive, religious, or anything that disturbs you. If it becomes out of control, that may even be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Most of the thoughts that flow through your head each day are not invited in by you, they just happen, but they mean nothing and you do not pay much attention. With intrusive thoughts, it can feel like they have taken over your life. These may involve thoughts that you fear are disturbing to your religious beliefs, or they may involve you causing harm to yourself and/others. Again, these thoughts are very distressing, as they may involve the fear that you may hurt someone, even though you have probably never hurt anyone or anything in your life.

So! Are intrusive thoughts normal? Yes! Everyone gets intrusive thoughts every once in a while, but the problem is not the thought itself, but what you do with said thought. For example, most people, if they get a random thought that they consider bad, they will just mentally yell “Well that was disturbing!”, carry on with their day and pay no attention, they won’t get as bothered with it. Whereas, some others, get frightened that their brain has come up with the very idea of such thoughts, and begin to wonder why they got the thought, what does it say about them, what if they get carried away and actually do it? So on and so forth, but then they are adding “meat” to it, making it a living nightmare. Intrusive thoughts latch onto the things that are the most vital to you; your parents, friends, religion, likes, hobbies, pets, etc. For example, let’s say you have a beloved kitten, and if the thought of you harming this animal in any way, would most certainly grab your attention and shake your values to their cores. If you suddenly suffer from an unwanted thought that goes against your core values you will probably feel something, such as fear, anxiety, dread, worry, disgust, and/or alarm. These strong, uncontrollable negative emotions make the thought appear stronger than it really is. Once an unwanted thought strikes your core values, if you leave it alone, it will wither and die, like a discarded flower, but if you pay attention to it; ponder about it for hours to days, analyze to no end, it will undoubtedly grow stronger.

With that said, you cannot stop these thoughts from coming, however, there are certain ways you can stop these thoughts from affecting your life so much.

Take the thoughts less personally, so that your brain does not automatically go to “this is something we need to pay serious attention to for months” mode.

Learn to accept your thoughts. Use mindfulness and acceptance, maybe even talk to an adult or get therapy if you feel it is a must. Remember that your thoughts are just thoughts. They mean nothing and they do not mean that you are a bad person. Your actions are completely different from your thoughts. It is not your abilities or thoughts that show who you truly are, but it is your choices. Accept the thought, and carry on with your life.

Spot the fear in the thought scare tactic and kill it. Don’t let your thoughts take over your happy life and destroy you.

Get Support. Talk with somebody, talk to a therapist, find new hobbies. Distract yourself!

Connect yourself with something you love, and the present moment! Go for a walk, play with your dog, etc.

Don’t change your behavior. Your thoughts may make you anxious, fearful, so much to the point, you feel mentally exhausted, but don’t let that stop you from doing the things you love. Hang out with friends an family, go see movies, etc.

Remember your values; WHO YOU ARE. Remember that you are human and that you are not perfect, and everything will be okay!!!