This post is the second in a two-part series on intrusive thoughts. The first post in which we broken down intrusive thoughts and talked about what they look like can be found here.
Having intrusive thoughts feels like an everyday struggle. These types of thoughts can naturally work their way into our subconscious and deceive us into putting these thoughts there ourselves. But even if we deal with it on a daily basis, there are ways to deal with intrusive thoughts by recognizing and dealing with them internally. Here are some of the most effective ways to deal with intrusive thoughts.
Ways to deal with intrusive thoughts
It might sound boring or extremely simple, but a big part of dealing with intrusive thoughts is confrontation. You do not question the truth of the thought itself, but its existence. If that sounds a little hokey, here are some examples of what I’m talking about (with the help of my friends at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America):
- Label these thoughts as “intrusive thoughts.” Do not give this thought power as legitimate. Call them as they are.
- Remind yourself that these thoughts are automatic and not yours. This is one that I practice regularly because it takes conditioning to learn that these thoughts are automatic and become so instinctive that you think you might put them there.
- Accept and allow the thoughts into your mind. This is an example that I really have problems with, but I know it has helped people so I want to mention it. The idea is that by taking the thought into your mind you are not giving it more power by suppressing it.
- Float and practice passing time. One of the ways intrusive thoughts can trip us up is to make us believe that the world is moving very quickly. Most of the time this is not the case. Let time go by and give space to these thoughts to float through.
- Expect the thoughts to come back again. A major mistake in dealing with intrusive thoughts is the thought that once you have that specific thought, you have removed it from your system and it will never return. In fact, the opposite is usually the case – they will come back and swing back. But knowing they will return can help you better manage those thoughts and deal with them when they come.
I am looking for help with intrusive thoughts
If your intrusive thoughts ever get too much to deal with, or seem to be driving you towards reality in any way, I would urge you (or ask you to urge others) to seek help specifically for this. Intrusive thoughts can be a manifestation of a mental disorder, and while someone knows they are dealing with intrusive thoughts, they may not be able to define other mental health issues that they are dealing with. There are several forms of therapy that can help you deal with intrusive thoughts, including:
- Group talk therapy
- Individual advice
- Specialized behavior therapy (e.g. cognitive behavior therapy, etc.)
- Experiential therapy
Additionally, there are medications that can help people dealing with OCD levels of intrusive thoughts (SRIs) that may also offer help. While none of these strategies are a complete solution to intrusive thoughts, these strategies can go a long way in combing those intrusive thoughts and giving them less power over us.
Whether or not you have successfully handled intrusive thoughts, I wish you the best as we continue to learn about our own intrusive thoughts and help others who experience them!