How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are unwelcomed traumatic flashbacks, ideas, or memories that frequently enter into a person’s mind. These disturbing or uncomfortable thoughts may include losing control, committing perverted acts, hurting other people, fearing death, etc. It is usually normal for everyone to have the fearful, unpleasant, or disturbing thoughts on one occasion or another. However, intrusive thoughts become a problem when the affected person cannot distinguish between imagination and reality.

How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are always annoying. The following measures can help eliminate them.

1.   Pen Down Your Thoughts

If you want to stop thinking about the intrusive thoughts, you need to first ask yourself several questions, which will guide you on identifying problems that are affecting you. You should write the thoughts and possible causes down, as well as how it affects your development and overall health. Make note of the thoughts that make you fearful or make you happy. Once you have identified all the thoughts, continue the following steps.

2.   Accept Your Thoughts

After you have identified all the thoughts that are disturbing, you should avoid contemplating on the thoughts and how it affects you but rather accept them. Once you have accepted your thoughts, you will be in a position to change your perception on the same thoughts. It is important to note that acceptance comes from understanding what you want and what you stand for. 

3.   Change the Way You React

In reality, the way you react to a particular situation determines the overall outcome. This is applicable to the intrusive thoughts as well. Irrational fears can be controlled if you can move and change how you react to these thoughts. Concentrating on the positive aspect rather than the negative aspect is the first way to change your reaction to different thoughts. By feeding your mind with positive reaction is the way to generate positive conditioning, which is important in how to stop intrusive thoughts.

4.   Become Aware

Whenever you are being affected by intrusive thoughts, it is important that you concentrate on your breathing. Listen to your heartbeat. You can do this by placing one palm on the chest with a shallow breathing exercise. When you are aware of your presence, you can shut the outside world and voices disturbing you in your head. 

5.   Try Revisualization

You can take a few moments throughout the day to visualize all the scary to less threatening thoughts. You can use stupidity or humor to downplay the threatening thoughts. Whenever the thoughts come into your mind, it is important to remember that a new visualization will help picture it differently. 

6.   Have Positive Self-Talk

This is another method if you wonder how to stop intrusive thoughts. You can utilize self-talk to reassure yourself. The power to alleviate negative thoughts comes from yourself and it is important to remind yourself that you are the best and that it is okay for some things to happen. 

7.   Shrink the Chatterbox

If you are obsessive about intrusive thoughts, think of these thoughts as a loud chatterbox. You can shrink it up by selecting what you want to entertain and what to leave. Neglect what it is saying. Once you have started, repeating the process will help you realize that the thoughts begin to fade away.

8.   Engage In Normal Activity

Engage in normal activities when you have accepted the thoughts, which in turn will keep you from the intrusive thoughts. In case of distractions, give a nod to the thoughts and then move on with the activity. 

9.   Live in a Healthy Way

A healthy lifestyle helps you get better; experts say that creative expression, mindfulness practice, exercise, and nutrition have a positive effect on people suffering from intrusive thoughts. It is also recommended that you meditate for ten minutes twice a day.

10.   Seek Professional Treatment

For people who cannot find a way of letting go of the intrusive thoughts and cannot function normally even after all the previous methods about how to stop intrusive thoughts, medical treatment is recommended. The common therapies applied to people who suffer from intrusive thoughts include behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and drug therapy.

  • Exposure therapy helps the patients to face his or her fears in a manageable environment.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches the victims how to face fears by vocalizing them and confiding in a medical professional. The therapy helps the patient to recognize the problems and overcome situations that trigger intrusive thoughts.
  • Some patients are treated with medication – anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are often administered to patients with OCD and PTSD.
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