We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a work meeting or trying to get some writing done, and suddenly you have a thought that takes you by surprise. It could be anything from an embarrassing memory to a dark thought about someone else.
These are called intrusive thoughts, and they can be incredibly disruptive. But don’t worry—there are ways you can manage these thoughts and take back control of your mind. Let’s explore how!
Taking Back Control: How to Manage Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are very common and usually harmless. They can come from any part of your life, from childhood memories to worries about the future or the present moment. While it may seem like intrusive thoughts are out of your control, research suggests that this isn’t necessarily true.
Our brains are actually wired for self-regulation, meaning we can learn to manage our own thoughts to become less overwhelmed and more at ease with ourselves and our environment.
One study reported by Psychology Today asked volunteers to talk about what goes through their minds. They found that the average participant had about 500 unintentional thoughts each day, and about 30% were socially unacceptable or downright shocking.
This just goes to show that intrusive thoughts aren’t uncommon—so don’t feel embarrassed if you find yourself struggling with them now and then!
Do you wonder how you can control or stop your intrusive thoughts?
So how do you take back control? Meditation is one way to start managing intrusive thoughts without judgment or shame.
When working with meditation, try taking a few moments each day to close your eyes and focus on your breath as a way of quieting your mind and gaining insight into what is really going on inside it. Or practice letting go of judgments by observing the thought without judging it as good or bad; simply observe it without engaging in any kind of mental struggle with it.
Other practices such as slowing down throughout the day, being mindful of your actions, setting boundaries for yourself, getting enough rest each night, eating balanced meals throughout the day, and avoiding substances such as caffeine can also help you gain more control over intrusive thoughts when practiced regularly over time.
10 ways people can control or stop their intrusive thoughts
Do intrusive thoughts keep you up at night? Here are 10 ways to help control or stop your intrusive thoughts:
- Acknowledge the thought, but don’t dwell on it.
- Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
- Listen to calming music.
- Talk to someone you trust about the thought.
- Challenge the thought with rational responses.
- Engage in activities that allow your mind to focus on something else.
- Get out of the house and do something positive for yourself.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and emotions.
- Write down a list of positive affirmations you can use as reminders throughout the day. Seek professional help if needed, and remember that you are not alone!
Can intrusive thoughts be cured?
Intrusive thoughts can be managed and controlled, but unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for intrusive thoughts. However, seeking professional help and using methods such as practicing mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, or even medication can help people find relief from their intrusive thoughts.
Learning healthy coping skills and having positive outlets can also reduce the intensity of intrusive thoughts. It’s important to remember that intrusive thoughts are a common experience and they do not define who you are.
Why won’t my intrusive thoughts go away?
Intrusive thoughts can be persistent and hard to ignore, but it is important to remember that they are a normal part of being human. In order to reduce or eliminate intrusive thoughts, it’s important to practice healthy coping skills and focus on activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
Why does my brain think things I don’t want it to?
When intrusive thoughts become so overwhelming, and out of control that they impede your daily life, it may be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Unnecessary worrying about such things can lead to emotional exhaustion and diminish the quality of life. So if you’re experiencing these recurrent thoughts constantly throughout the day, then OCD might be what’s causing them.
Additionally, seeking professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist may be beneficial in setting up helpful strategies for managing intrusive thoughts and reducing their intensity. Remember that although intrusive thoughts can be difficult and distressing, with the right help, there is hope for long-term relief.
How do I stop obsessing over something?
The best way to stop obsessing over something is to practice mindful awareness and focus on the present moment. Recognize the thoughts that you are having, but do not give them too much power or importance.
Rather than getting stuck in ruminating thoughts, it may be helpful to turn your attention towards activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. It can also be beneficial to seek professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist in order to develop strategies for managing obsessive thoughts and reducing their intensity.
Stop the monkey mind.
Intrusive thoughts can be difficult, but they don’t have to be scary or overwhelming—you don’t need anyone else’s help in order to manage them! With some consistent training through meditation techniques, such as focusing on your breath or letting go of judgments around those ideas that come up in unexpected moments, you can learn to feel more at ease even when your mind takes an uncomfortable turn towards darker subjects.
Start incorporating these techniques into your daily routine today for greater peace of mind tomorrow!