The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind. ~ Caroline Myss
Picture this: You are having a fabulous day, feeling all high. You decide to go home early and have a calm evening and get into bed for a good nights sleep. Just as you lay your head on the pillow, out of nowhere, your mind is suddenly full of disturbing and unwanted thoughts. You then spend the whole night following those disturbing thoughts into a dark abyss, till you can’t sleep at all. All that high from the whole day just went down, hard!
Does this scenario sound familiar to you, where an unwelcome thought justs pops in your head and refuses to leave? It just sticks there.
Don’t worry. You are not the only one. According to a psychological study most of the subjects (99.4%) reported experiencing intrusive thoughts occasionally.
Intrusive thoughts may be disturbing or violent too. They may be thoughts of very weird fantasies. They can also be about behaviors you personally find unacceptable and repugnant. This is why they shock and disturb.
These thoughts are just thoughts. They seemingly appear out of nowhere and cause anxiety, but they have no meaning in your life. They’re not warning messages or red flags.
In my 20+ years as a counseling psychologist and spiritual counselor, I have seen so many beautiful souls suffer from this problem and have also helped them to heal from it. It is not something to be ashamed of. Infact, these thoughts are normal and thankfully have an expiration date.
5 Things you NEED to understand about Intrusive Thoughts(And How to Stop them):
1} Intrusive thoughts are normal and common
Anyone can experience them at anytime. Infact, in the past 20 years of being a psychologist, I have taken part in many studies and done many surveys that indicate that almost 95% of us experience them at some point in our life. Like I mentioned earlier, there are studies to prove this fact. So, it is fairly common. You are not alone.
2} Intrusive thoughts are not your intentions at all
Intrusive thoughts are not really your thoughts at all. They do not reflect your charachter as a human being. And, they are not a sign of mental illness. They are not thoughts you would ever act on.
3} Intrusive thoughts activate the “fight or flight” or Threat Response
A major reason intrusive thoughts get stuck in your head is because they shock you and hence activate the threat response. They make you think like you are in danger, thereby taking up urgent space in your head. They can be warning signs that your brain creates to keep you safe.
4} Resistance Makes Intrusive thoughts worse
Intrusive thought are like quick sand. They keep popping up in your head, because you keep shoving them aside or resisting them. Like quick sand, the more you resist the faster you sink. This action only makes you more worried, because then these thoughts become stronger. They make you feel like they must mean something because your mind has made such a big deal about them. In reality, they don’t mean a thing.
5} Accept, Acknowledge and Move on
When intrusive thoughts start coming to mind:
– Accept that this is simply a passing thought. Not something important.
– Acknowledge the thought for what it is. A meaningless thought that is full of junk.
– Take a deep breath and focus on the present moment by activating your senses. Feel your skin, your breath. Pinch yourself to instantly bring you back to your present moment.
-Let the thought simply be there. Don’t add to it. I know that is easier said than done, but allow it to simply be. Making the conscious intention to let that thought be, is you taking control of your thoughts rather than your thoughts taking control of you.
-Breathe and go about your normal day. Move away from the thought consciously.
-Occupying your mind with an activity you love, usually works wonderfully.
3 Ways to Heal the Mind of Intrusive thoughts
Intrusive thoughts feel powerful because they “stick” in your mind. Their weird energy and nature can cause unease and anxiety. They’re upsetting because they often feel so foreign to your core nature.
These intrusive thoughts are like many of the thoughts we have on a daily basis, just passing thoughts. Having intrusive thoughts doesn’t always mean you have an underlying issue or behavior.
However, if your intrusive thoughts are hindering your regular life, then the following ways will help immensely:
1} Understanding Yourself: Talk with a counselor/therapist about your experiences. Getting the right help at the right time can help you understand these thoughts better and can also help you to react and deal with them in a positive manner. Letting these thoughts fester can lead to deeper issues. So the sooner you address them the better.
2} Self-care: Another positive way toward treating intrusive thoughts is recognizing what they are: just thoughts. These thoughts are not the same as intent or behavior. Learning to manage stress through self-care and the development of active coping strategies can help reduce the intensity and frequency of unwanted thoughts. Deep breathing, journaling, walks in nature etc. all help to calm the mind and bring it back to centre.
3} Create Healing Routines: The mind thrives on routine. When you know exactly what to do and how to do it, that order keeps the mind on track. This is why developing healing morning routines or night routines, which are seeped in self love can keep these intrusive thoughts at bay. Infact when the mind is so full of self love, intrusive thoughts pass through like the wind. You will hardly feel their presence.
Healing from these “sticky” thoughts can be an uphill climb, especially for those who have grown to live with them for years. But, the need to heal the mind from them is an essential investment in your peace of mind.
Have you ever experienced intrusive thoughts? How did you handle them? Share your wisdom in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
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8 thoughts on “How to Understand and Heal the Mind from Intrusive Thoughts”
Wow, I am so glad somebody has touched on this issue. What’s interesting is that intrusive thoughts activate flight or fight response, that makes a lot of sense 😊✅
I’m happy this article has helped you understand intrusive thoughts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here 🙏💗
It happens to me too. Often I try to relax with breathing excercises or do a bodyscan to take my mind of it. Great post Zeenat!
It’s fascinating that we believe the thoughts we have to be some sort of truth…and yes…that used to be me. But once I understood that thoughts are just thoughts which are only given power by us I found it a lot easier to manage them. Great article and great reminder Zeenat.
Good advice! Learning to distance myself from, accept, and reframe my thoughts was a game-changer for me. When you learn to control your mind, instead of it controlling you, makes life so much better!
Yes, I’ve definitely had my share of intrusive thoughts. I think you are right on target in suggesting that we remember they are just thoughts! All thoughts pass. The less attention we give to them, the more they weaken. Wonderful advice, Zeenat.
A morning journaling routine that combines writing and meditation helped me get rid of them. You’re so right – resistance to them just made it worse. Focusing on not having them was torturous and pointless. I put my journal template up on my blog. Anyone can use it. ❤️
Melissa, thank you for sharing your journal template! Its such a needed resource. I love your morning routine by the way. So happy you stopped by💗😊
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