Intrusive thoughts are those that impose their presence despite how much we can do to stop them. In this article, you will find some ideas that can help you.
One characteristic of anxiety disorders is the abundant internal dialogue also called ruminating thoughts or ideas. These thoughts stun the person who suffers them and no matter how hard he tries it is impossible to stop, with the consequence that while he thinks the action is paralyzed, so he goes deeper into his thoughts and sensations with nothing distracting him.
Here are some tips that may help ease your condition until you get psychological treatment.
“I must not think” is the phrase that is repeated repeatedly, without result. This phrase does not work because the brain does not register negative phrases. The “non-existence” is not recognized. Let’s see if this is true: if I tell you “Don’t think of a blue butterfly”. What has happened? The image of a blue butterfly came to your mind.
This is the reason our phrases, desires, or purposes that begin in NO, do not work. “I must not think” becomes “I just think”, just as “I will not smoke” becomes “I will smoke” or “I will not eat” becomes “I will eat”. Remember that whenever you want something, transform it into a positive one, think about what you want, not about what you don’t want! And be consistent.
Instead of “I must not think” say to yourself “I will pay attention to what I am doing now”.
Instead of “I don’t want to smoke,” say, “I want to be healthy.
Instead of “I mustn’t eat” say “I want to be thin”.
If you are walking down the street and the internal dialogue does not stop, it is effective to take the attention away from our internal thoughts in external intentional acts. You could count the men or women passing by, the cars of a certain color that are parked, the number of doors on the sidewalk, softly singing your favorite song… And anything else you can think of that might distract you from your thoughts. Be consistent.
If you’re at home, play upbeat music and sing out loud while doing household chores, watch a soccer game, search the Internet for recipes and cook according to directions, learn a poem or a tongue twister and repeat it each time you talk to yourself. Be consistent.
If you are in the office and your job allows it, recite the chart on 9, 8, or 7 from back to front. It takes little time, but it will distract you for a while. Repeat when the thoughts come back. If you can, talk to a colleague for a while, or take a short walk observing the objects next to you. Look at any object and think of at least three different uses for it. Look for other options to distract yourself, let your imagination run wild… Be consistent, though.
Learn meditation. It is very good for assessing which thoughts to pay attention to and which not to.
If these thoughts appear more noticeably at night, look for a selection of music (I suggest: The Soul of Patagonian Wildflowers by Jose Luis Tubert, you can find it on YouTube) and after turning off the light and getting ready to sleep imagine the place the music suggests, and, if you like it and it transmits peace and tranquility, get into that place, observe the colors and movements, listen to the sounds and immerse yourself deeply in those feelings and let yourself be carried away by drowsiness and placidity. Be constant.
Be constant: The mind has automated the way it responds to anxiety, in fact, thoughts come flooding in and few things stop them. To break this automatism, it is necessary to generate a new habit or automatism. Although the result seems to be short, repetition and constancy will expand them until fixing them. A day will come when you will be surprised because some time ago the internal dialogue… has abandoned it.
These tips are worth as a help, in no way replace the therapy you need if you suffer anxiety in any of its manifestations: panic attacks, phobias, dependence, etc.
For further guidance, the most effective therapy proven by the latest studies is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Ask your psychologist if this is your orientation.
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