How to free yourself from intrusive, obsessive and unwanted thoughts?


Intrusive thoughts (which can also be described as unwanted and even obsessive thoughts) are distressing. When they touch us, they can make us suffer a lot of pain and anguish. They can do a lot of harm in the normal course of our lives and they lead to disturbing questions about us ...
In this article, I'm going to give you some details about this particular type of thought that persecutes us and I'll provide you with some strategies to help you get rid of it.
My first goal is to help you. But the limited space of an article does not allow me to present to you all the most recent strategies that exist in psychology to free you from your intrusive thoughts.
Searching around the Internet, including Amazon.fr, I found no book or guide that explained how to get rid of these thoughts. There are, however, very effective solutions. That's why I wrote a guide specifically designed to help you solve this problem:
To improve the course of our existence, it is not enough to identify the thoughts that make our life hard, but we must understand how it works.
Though they sometimes arise from particular emotions or situations, these obsessive thoughts also come from our values and even from the means we have used before to face difficult situations (and to get rid of those thoughts themselves).
We will first examine their origin. Thus, it will be easier to understand their sources and get out of their dead ends!

The removal of unwanted, obsessive and intrusive thoughts

Invasive negative thoughts can burst into our minds at any time and cause great suffering.
A paradoxical result happens precisely when we try to suppress those intrusive thoughts that bother us.
The psychologist Daniel Wegner and his colleagues were very interested in this topic in their research and they made a surprising discovery.
One day, the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy challenged his brother to stand in the corner of a room until he can not think of a polar bear, which the poor man never managed to accomplish ...
Daniel Wegner was particularly interested in this paradox of thinking in his research.
He found that not only is it difficult to suppress an unwanted thought, but the mere attempt to do so increases the risk that this thought will come back to haunt us. so we should deliver our thoughts to friends, to the public, for example, you can deliver a speech in public about an upcoming event like your birthday, special occasion, 14 August SMS speech and deliver your message
In other words, the more we concentrate on forgetting or suppressing the obsessive thoughts that bother us, the more we imprint on ourselves those thoughts that we want to get rid of!
But the phenomenon Daniel Wegner discusses is not limited to thoughts that lead to obsession, but also to compulsive behaviors and unstable emotional states.
And this happens in relation to the repeated activation of the same networks of neurons in our brain.

Here is a summary of the effect of suppressing intrusive thoughts, which produces the opposite result:

  1. We think of something that we do not like or want to avoid;
  2. We try to get rid of thought, behavior or condition;
  3. The thoughts we want to suppress invariably come back.
This happens, for example, when someone tries to quit. The desire to smoke will punctuate the weaning period on many occasions, sometimes obsessively.
And it will often take a few cigarettes to reset the habit ...
The same phenomenon occurs again when we have to keep a secret.
Because we have to keep it, we try not to think about it, which makes it even more tempting to reveal.
In the same way, people who perceive food negatively and feel easily guilty are also more likely to eat in excessive amounts.
This guilt (the desire for food that they try to suppress) maintains the desire to eat.
Instead of promoting self-control, this process usually ends in excess.
This is one of the reasons why relapses are so common, causing the so-called yo-yo effect in people who want to lose weight.

Let go

Probably the most constructive initiative is first to accept oneself. It's easy to say you'll tell me, I know ...
But when you know that guilt overprints the problem, increases it, and stops you from getting rid of it, you have to admit that you have to do something else to break free from this pernicious process ...

Take control of what's in between your ears

We most often use mental control when we are desperately trying to deal with a situation, though, or emotional state that afflicts us.
Unfortunately, as long as we consciously maintain the desire to suppress an obsessive thought, we entertain that thought.
The desire to depart from a thought still depends on the interpretation we make of it: an innocuous remark becomes disturbing when we consider it as such.
All depends on the intensity of the inconvenience that intrusive thoughts make us feel, which is also associated with the feeling of guilt.
The context also remains very important.
Objects, people, all elements of our environment are all clues that influence the content of our thoughts.
Indeed, each of these indices activates neurons linked to memories, impressions and various emotions.
These same clues give rise to undesirable thoughts, and we may even avoid them voluntarily so as not to stir up intense emotions, as we would do when contemplating the picture of a beloved person after death.
When the desire to avoid certain thoughts has become automatic, it becomes an obsession, a problem worse than the ideas we originally wanted to avoid.
In fact, the less we understand how our thoughts work, the more energy we devote to unsuccessfully trying to get rid of some of them.
Another paradoxical effect of suppressing unwanted thoughts is that of innuendo.
The information that people and the media imply imprints itself in our memory even if we learn later that they are completely false.

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Adolf Charles adds several details.
Let's take an example.
Suppose your friend Sandrine says that Pierre, one of your acquaintances, suffers from a manic-depressive disorder.
Afterward, you quickly understand that seeking revenge for an affront, Sandrine attributed to Pierre a personality disorder completely invented that no particular sign had confirmed.
But just because of this statement, you may maintain any doubt about the mental health of Peter, even if you know that the information was absolutely wrong.
As Wegner mentions, we are aware of our thoughts, but we usually do not know how to influence them.
As is the case with cropping, if you want to change that, the first step is knowing that we can do something.
Even if no trauma has shaken the course of our existence, it may be that obsessions have been slyly printed in us.
This is the case of the obsessive fear of dirt.
By mentally returning the image of horrible deadly bacteria (C. difficile or Staphylococcus aureus, for example), we overestimate their real danger and we imagine ourselves invaded by these creatures.
This is how certain obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) develop.
In other cases, we see one or two of his relatives die, and we continually rehearse the idea of death until we conceive of a fear that is sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.
Unsuccessful attempts to suppress morbid thoughts make them all the more pregnant and disturbing.
Unwanted thoughts force us to interrupt the normal course of our thinking. They focus our attention on a specific subject and do not leave us stranded.
But one does not need to suffer from mental illness for this kind of recurrent thoughts to manifest: "An obsession can be imposed from nothing but the desire to suppress a thought".
The fear of being ashamed or sick is another example of these intrusive thoughts that haunt us and that we try to dismiss.
So we do not have to experience deep trauma for something to obsess us with.
It is sometimes enough for events that are small to be repeated or that we think about often enough to give them disproportionate importance, such as the fear of experiencing a flood or a fire.
In fact, we all think of strange things, such as jumping when we are in front of a precipice or even killing someone who is dear to us. But we are not crazy!
If these frightening thoughts arise, it is precisely because we would not want to commit such acts. We try to remove them from our mind but, again, they come back. Sometimes we find these ideas so vile that they make us doubt ourselves.
Too shameful to talk about it, we conclude that this phenomenon only happens to us, we feel guilty and we end up believing ourselves abnormal. But 90% of people have this kind of thoughts on occasion.
Unwanted thoughts are often related to discomforts such as guilt, fatigue, anxiety, etc.
They also seem to favor psychological problems such as phobias and obsessions.
Attempts to suppress thoughts have several damaging effects. For example, Turner and his collaborators 6 found that obsessions most often precede depression.
Indeed, obsessive thoughts, impossible to control, undermine us to the point of plunging into a state of increasingly painful.
The self-deprecating, worry and anxiety are associated with obsessive.
Chronic anxiety also apprehends a large number of often unlikely "dangers" and fails to focus their attention effectively on topics other than those that frighten them.
Unlike people whose morale is more neutral, those who are depressed seem unable to suppress their negative thoughts.
Similarly, they resort more easily to positive thoughts as they pass through the trials.
Given all these difficulties, we are entitled to ask ourselves if we are condemned to undergo negative automatic thoughts?

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