Intrusive thoughts are these thoughts or images that come on unbidden or suddenly that leave you feeling distressed or disturbed. Sometimes referred to as obsessions, people who have intrusive thoughts often end up with compulsions only to help them cope with it. Normally, our brain is constantly working, with thoughts popping up here and there and then fading away. Some, we analyze, others we don’t pay much attention to. However, in the case of intrusive thoughts, these thoughts seem to be taking over your entire being. This can lead to anxiety disorders which can affect your day-to-day life.
Types of Intrusive Thoughts
If you feel that you are having certain obsessions, and you find yourself bound to do something about them in order to find relief, you will need to talk to a specialist as soon as possible. Truth be told, there are different types of intrusive thoughts that you may encounter, not only in the family, but from other people. Here are a few that you should know of:
As the name suggests, these thoughts make you want to hurt yourself or others. The fear of hurting someone against your will can be high, especially when you haven’t done so before. An example of this is being verbally abusive to others, or physically harming a person or yourself.
Thoughts about death
A constant string of thoughts that are related to death or dying. This may involve images of you dying or someone close to you that is affecting you badly.
There are some who experience intrusive thoughts pertaining to religion. They feel that their thoughts are blasphemous, that their religion will cast them out for having these thoughts in their head. Among the thoughts that may form include disrupting a service, sexually inclined thoughts with the religious members, and even swearing while in worship.
Is This Normal?
If you find yourself thinking any of these thoughts, don’t worry. Everyone can experience having these thoughts from time to time, and although intrusive thoughts are harmless on their own, when there is a desire, or a compulsion, to act on them, then there is where the trouble starts. The difference between having an intrusive thought and just dismissing it, to having one, then considering doing it, is how you handle this train of thought.
Intrusive thoughts are the opposite to what we actually believe in. With that said, when these thoughts appear, they usually latch on to thoughts that you have a strong belief in. A good example here would be me being an animal lover. An intrusive thought may pop up in my head where I want to hurt an animal. This will shake me to the core as this goes against my personal belief. If what I do is simply dismiss the thought, the intrusive thought will disappear. On the other hand, if I stop and analyze the thought, then ask what if I did what I had in mind, then the thought will be lodged there in your mind.
What to do with an Intrusive Thought
Is there any way for you to handle such thoughts running in your mind? Psychologists often guide their patients to think of something else, rather than putting emphasis on these unwanted thoughts. Refraining from feeding the flame of the intrusive thought can help keep it at bay and, eventually, it will disappear. This is easier said than done, true, but with the right guidance, and a conscious effort to do so, you will be able to ignore these thoughts easily and safely.