Are my thoughts really true? OCD
Do you own your thoughts, or do your thoughts own you? Every thought you have has validity of who you are and what you wanted to think of...right?
There is a point where you have to look at the behaviors you're doing because of the thoughts and see who has ownership. Here is what I mean! The thoughts that cross you remind predict your actions. We either are going to push a thought away or do an action or a behavior because of the thought.
Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that we don't really want but we have them anyway. They come and go as they please. The thoughts we give attention to are the ones that want to stick around.
But we don't always react to our thoughts. If we did, wouldn't we really be our thoughts? For example...I'm sitting at a restaurant and am looking at someone's food. I'm hungry, my food hasn't gotten here yet. I have the thought, I should go over there and take a piece of bacon. I wonder what would happen. I have feelings, I have thoughts....you know what I don't have....the action.
This tells us that we ACTUALLY have a choice. I can see that thought as random noise. meaningless. Because a thought is a thought.
Here is a literal definition of a thought. It is merely an idea or opinion created by your mind. It is sudden and spontaneous and has no particular origin. Wow. think of that. This thought has no home. It's a random collection of thoughts that can cause real emotions which make us doubt and question something.
So who is owning your thoughts? Well in one way, you do. In another way. No-one does. It has no where to go until we do an action to put it in it's place or just let it fly on by. When it comes to these intrusive thoughts, they can be about anything and cause extreme doubt, which make you believe they are valid. These random thoughts can be toward relationships, getting sick, possible harm, memories, and even responsibilities.
When these thoughts don't match your value system we need to treat them as fluff. Nothing. Garbage. A random signal. Meaningless. Once we attach to it and attempt to figure it out, it's going to happen more and more and more. That is when these thoughts own you. You're doing behaviors to remove the thought or perceived threat.
Let me tell you why it's important to recognize that you aren't your thoughts. If I take every random thought and run with it. I'm going to be convincing myself that I'm a monster pretty darn quick. If I pass by a girl and my brain says, "wow, she's cute" my brain tries to make sense of this. It's going to say, "well, you must not love your spouse" or you "just cheated" OR I could say, "hey, thanks for the thought today brain."
Ultimately, we need to stop taking our brain so seriously. It's screaming out thoughts just to get your attention and says they all mean something, but you're not going to fall for it anymore.
Let's actually own these thoughts by giving these types of responses:
"sup thought" "coolio, thanks for that." "yep, I guess that could happen" "maybe, maybe not." "you're welcome to stay thought" You're also practicing now pushing them away or making since of them.
You're not giving them a good home to burrow into. Once you say, this thought has meaning. It just snuggles right into bed with you. Taking the opposite and not giving it a great answer and just letting it pass on by...it moves over to the neighbors.....no neighbor. It may stick it's head over the fence to try a few more times. But that response of "I do not care" is important so it knows, "man, you can keep trying, and I'm willing to listen to you, but I'm giving you nothing."
But Nate! How will I know when it's a thought I actually need to pay attention to? Well, here's my indication. Anxiety mixed with an urge to know. It's a trap! Anxiety always tell the brain the thought is dangerous, BUT here's the kicker. If you don't actually see the danger right in front of you, and I mean it. RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. It's not super obvious. Then, we're treating a thought as a thought and allowing it to pass.
If you treat a thought as a thought, but try to push it away, you're saying it has value. We don't want to do this. Give yourself more grace for having a thought. No really. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your brain and all the processes it does. the positive thoughts and even the negative ones.
Our brain isn't trying to hurt us. Instead, it's actually attempting to help. It's just not doing a great job at it at times. Our job is to retrain it by the responses we give. That response is the most important thing in all of this. Think about this with the next thought you have that causes some distress. My action right now is going to determine if this is important or not. Choose wisely.
The next time you have intense intrusive thoughts and you're trying to figure out what you're going to do with them....remember that you don't have to do anything. You have a choice if your thoughts are going to own you or if you're going to own your thoughts.
Did you know there are at least 3 types of intrusive thoughts? I made a video about these and how to actually get them to slow down. You're going to need to enhance these skills so you can become even more of a boss!
How to own your own thoughts
How to stop intrusive thoughts
Let’s talk about 3 types of intrusive thoughts, who has them, if they are harmful to you, and what you can do to get them to stop.
Have you ever had an unwanted thought or image get stuck in your head? Usually, you can ignore it and move on. But sometimes, it just keeps popping right back up.
These thoughts can be sticky. Uncomfortable. And likely not something you want to think about. So if you don’t want to think about these thoughts why are they happening. It is intrusive. You didn’t invite it in. You’re also having a hard time getting rid of this thought. It seems like the more times you push the thought away, it comes back even stronger.
You may have heard people say this before. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. But just because everyone has them doesn’t mean that yours do not matter. An intrusive thought can be literally anything. It could be random images, disturbing and violent ideas. It can be completely random in the sense of the brain continuing to say “what if” this were to happen. These can feel more than just thoughts. Some can feel them. They can be constant, relentless, make you cringe, make you even question yourself because you’re having certain thoughts.
I find that these thoughts love to come when you want them the least. They definitely are not easy to ignore. It is like a relentless child meeting your attention. Waiting for you to put value want to what they just said. Repeating something over and over and over again. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad.
So the question is, are these intrusive thoughts harmful to you? The short answer is no. They are actually harmless. But, if you obsess about them, but value to them, and even try to find a way to get the thoughts to stop…. Then it can be a time where your life is now interrupted.
This can be often a sign of a mental health condition, often intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of anxiety, depression, OCD. When we say that everyone has intrusive thoughts. Somebody might have I thought that comes to your mind that causes some concern. This thought comes and it goes. If someone is struggling with a mental health condition, these thoughts come, and they come and they come and they come. That usually is accompanied by anxiety. By fear. By meaning. The brain is trying to interpret what just happened. It says that it must mean something important.
That right there is the trap. Once we start putting meaning on these thoughts, then we just put a value on them. Once they have value, they want to keep coming. Making individuals often feel bad about themselves.
Intrusive thoughts have many forms. Here are 3 types of intrusive thoughts
Sexual thoughts. It’s natural to have a sexual thought. They often come in they go. They’re very automatic end up to find you in anyway. When they are intrusive, they may come in the form of worry. Sexual intrusive thoughts can often include images and questions. It can be about anything and anyone.
Violent thoughts: Some may have harm thoughts. These thoughts may be related to hurting yourself or someone else. It could be an intrusive thought about pushing someone in front of a car. It can be fairly aggressive, he can make you wonder if you would ever act upon those thoughts. These thoughts can feel very real and graphic.
I called the next one just junk thoughts. You have no control over them, they have zero relevance to your life. You can be a thought about an interaction you had with somebody. It can be certain words that just repeat in your brain, certain images that keep coming back, more than them causing distress, they may cause annoyance. Individuals know that these thoughts don’t matter, yet they can’t get them out of their brain.
So here’s what you do with them…..NOTHING. --- Wow Nate, crap video bro. --- Wait, wait wait….hear me out. Nothing means, don’t come up with a list of things you can do to get the thoughts to stop. The second you devise a plan, the more thoughts you are likely to have. This is because we’re putting value on the thoughts. We’re saying they matter enough for us to problem solve how to get rid of them.
So with the NOTHING attitude, we see a thought as a thought. Don’t matter if it’s a harm thought, scary thoughts, or simply a plain on boring thought that just won’t stop. We can’t stop the thoughts, instead we can practice responding to them in a different way. Something like, “I’m loving these thoughts, you’re welcome to stick around” “join the party” “I may or may not have these thoughts all day, I’ve accepted it either way.” A thought is neither good or bad.
INVITE, INVITE, INVITE….It’s more enticing to a thought to want to come when it’s not welcome. When you’ve opened the doors and let whatever happen happen….it’s not as fun. There is a greater chance that this thought won’t come around.
Many may be asking….sooo when do these thoughts go away then? We don’t put a timeline on it. We don’t expect them to. We don’t look for freedom. We accept where we are now and enjoy the ride. The thoughts will slow down, when they slow down. In the meantime, your job is to LIVE life, let the thoughts be, don’t fix them, don’t make sense of them, don’t label them.
It’s doing what you want to do, NO MATTER WHAT thought comes your way. So, are you going to try it….Try Nothing. It’s worth your time to do nothing.
You know what will power you up? Subscribing to this channel. Thanks so much for watching and I will see you next time.
Intrusive OCD Thoughts
Sexual Intrusive Thoughts
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.