Coping with Intrusive Thoughts

Arne Pedersen

Registered and Certified Counselling Hypnotherapist, Victoria, B.C.

Managing Intrusive Thoughts: Strategies for Relief

Intrusive thoughts can significantly impact our lives, robbing us of joy and peace of mind. These unwelcome thoughts seem to emerge out of nowhere, disrupting our mental landscape and affecting how we feel about ourselves. They can trigger stress, self-doubt, and a sense of inadequacy, undermining the progress we’ve made towards positivity and self-growth.

Understanding Intrusive Thoughts:

I perceive intrusive thoughts as akin to negative thought patterns that latch onto our consciousness, almost as if they’re not our own. They can originate from deep-seated limiting beliefs formed through past experiences. These beliefs often revolve around feelings of inadequacy, feeling unworthy, or not being good enough—a narrative we internalize based on external judgments or unrealistic expectations imposed by others. The intrusive thoughts we hear are often the words from the people who made those past judgements that are now stuck within our long term subconscious memory.

Triggers for these intrusive thoughts can vary, but they often stem from moments of stress or worry that activate our subconscious coping mechanisms. These mechanisms, shaped by our past experiences and beliefs, kick in automatically, flooding our minds with critical and undermining thoughts; which are designed by our subconscious survival systems to keep us small, from putting ourselves out there in life where a threat to us feeling good about ourselves is perceived. These negative thoughts are simply supporting the negative self beliefs and judgements that we have become convinced are true about ourselves.

Steps to Overcome Intrusive Thoughts:

To effectively address intrusive thoughts, we must first understand how they operate and what triggers them. 

Here’s a practical approach to reclaiming control over your thoughts and emotions:

  1. Awareness Practice: Begin by becoming self-aware of the triggers that lead to intrusive thoughts. Notice the patterns and situations that precede these thoughts, allowing you to intercept them before they spiral out of control.
  1. Mindfulness and Body Awareness: Cultivate mindfulness by focusing on your body sensations and breath. This practice builds awareness muscles that can help you recognize triggers and their underlying causes.
  1. Identify Limiting Beliefs: Trace intrusive thoughts back to their roots—the deep-seated limiting beliefs you hold about yourself. These beliefs often stem from past experiences and judgments, shaping your perception of self-worth and adequacy.
  1. Self-Compassion: Practice replacing intrusive thoughts with words of kindness and self-compassion. Challenge the negative self-talk by affirming your worthiness and acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments.
  1. Reflect on Achievements: Spend time reflecting on your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledge your successes and celebrate them as evidence of your capability and worthiness.
  1. Meditation and Positive Affirmations: Incorporate meditation into your daily routine to reinforce positive beliefs and affirmations. Visualize success and self-acceptance, imprinting these empowering thoughts into your subconscious mind.

Comprehensive Therapy Approach:

While the tips provided here offer a starting point, individual therapy can provide a more comprehensive approach to overcoming intrusive thoughts. Through personalized sessions, we can delve deeper into your unique experiences and beliefs, uncovering the root causes of your intrusive thoughts and developing tailored strategies for lasting change. To ensure our therapy work together is as productive as possible, I provide you with a comprehensive audio program to maintain momentum and progress between our sessions.

Free Consultation:

If you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts and seeking guidance, I offer a free 1-hour zoom video consultation to discuss how therapy can support you on your journey towards healing. Together, we’ll explore your challenges, goals, and the therapeutic approach that best suits your needs.

Reclaim Your Inner Peace:

Imagine a life free from the burden of intrusive thoughts—a life where you can experience joy, confidence, and self-acceptance, with thoughts of positivity and kindness. With the right support and guidance, you can break free from negative patterns and reclaim control over your thoughts and emotions. Let’s embark on this journey together towards a brighter, more fulfilling future.