The idea of manifesting thoughts can sound exciting. If I think hard enough and have the right mindset, I’ll get all the things I want in my life. Sounds great right? In this video, let's talk about why manifesting and the law of attraction can be harmful to your mental health. Especially if you have OCD or anxiety.
The word ‘manifestation' means to create something or turn something from an idea into a reality. In psychology, manifestation generally means using our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to bring something to our physical reality. Now, there is a difference between wanting something and having a great mindset to achieve it... vs. using the idea of manifesting to get what you want. Some believe that you must do certain behaviors to get what you want. If I want to attract someone else and move them closer to me, I can start by thinking really hard, putting all my energy into this thought. Using meditation, to really visualize that person coming into your life. I picture it all, I’m feeling like I want it to happen. I may be using mantras and using words like, “I’m going to get together with that person” or “when we date, we’re going to watch a lot of movies.” Some use scripting, where they will write out what they desire and be confident they are going to get that thing. Seems pretty harmless right? Maybe it's just confidence. I want something sooo incredibly bad that I simply have a commanding, positive attitude about it and expect it to happen.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s manifesting? It’s like saying, someone else has control over you. For some reason you’re all of a sudden drawn to them. My body is moving toward the door, I know think this person is attractive.... It’s saying their thoughts made something happen.
Me having a positive attitude about getting a job, being confident, using mantras doesn’t guarantee me a job. I have to WORK for it. Positive thoughts are wonderful and great, they can bring motivation to move toward things we want and achieve our dreams, but NOTHING is guaranteed. Having this mindset that our thoughts made something happen trains our brain to make connections that are complete guesses. Maybe, I got the job because I was qualified and they liked my personality. This video isn’t about not having positive thoughts. It’s about understanding the dangers of thinking your thoughts are going to make something happen.
There is something called the law of attraction, of which I agree with. It says that you "will attract into your life whatever you focus on." Agreed..... But Here is danger. What happens when you start having intrusive thoughts? The thoughts that just won’t stop. You don’t have control over how many times you have them. You have thoughts about something bad happening. You have negative thoughts about someone else. You have negative thoughts about yourself. These thoughts can be sexual in nature, harm related, religious and just plain random. A thought like, "you're going to throw your baby down the stairs" --- Will my brain now believe that I am manifesting something. It's likely, if I believe and follow the manifesting mindset. The brain lives in fear and prevents something bad from happening when in reality, a thought is a thought. Then it applies to the negative intrusive thoughts. My intrusive thought says, something bad is going to happen as school and tells you this 100 times. With manifesting and the "law of attraction", you must now believe that something bad will now happen.
Individuals who struggle with OCD and anxiety often think that their thoughts mean something great. Anxiety warns them of this danger, so they must follow it right? This is called thought action fusion. Because I have a certain thought, it will now manifest into something real. This affects our mental health because we will now see all thoughts with a lot of meaning. It may stop us from living the life we want because of the fears associated with having a thought that you did not choose to have.
What’s even scarer is the tips those teaching how to manifest. For instance, advice given is to use the 5x55 technique. Write down what you want to happen 55 times for 5 days strait. Hello, does this not sound like a compulsion. Something you are choosing to do to get a desired outcome that you have zero control over. In fact, it plays with magical thinking OCD. People do behaviors to avoid negative situations from happening. Things that actually wouldn't have happened, but just in case, I'll do tap this thing a few times.
Ultimately, here’s the deal. If you want something positive in your life. Be confident, move towards your goals. If it happens it happens. Live and enjoy life. Not get stuck in thinking our thoughts alone will make something happen. I would love love love a million dollars, maybe, if I put all my energy into thinking about having it, I write it down a thousand times, I am confident I will have it....dude, it may show up in my mailbox. Does that sound silly? It does to me.
Thoughts are not facts. Thoughts are thought. It’s an electrical signal that spreads like a wave of a thousand neurons. The only power we have after a thought is formed is what we’re going to do with it. So if I want a million dollars, I'm going to work for it. I'm going to have a positive mindset. I'm not going to magically "manifest" it into my life or my mailbox. Maybe we change the word manifesting to to plain old planning. My goals are get a promotion at work. I'm going to write this down and create steps for me to achieve it. I will evaluate my goals and change things as needed.
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What are intrusive thoughts
Let’s talk about 3 types of intrusive thoughts, who has them, if they are harmful to you, and what you can do to get them to stop.
Have you ever had an unwanted thought or image get stuck in your head? Usually, you can ignore it and move on. But sometimes, it just keeps popping right back up.
These thoughts can be sticky. Uncomfortable. And likely not something you want to think about. So if you don’t want to think about these thoughts why are they happening. It is intrusive. You didn’t invite it in. You’re also having a hard time getting rid of this thought. It seems like the more times you push the thought away, it comes back even stronger.
You may have heard people say this before. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. But just because everyone has them doesn’t mean that yours do not matter. An intrusive thought can be literally anything. It could be random images, disturbing and violent ideas. It can be completely random in the sense of the brain continuing to say “what if” this were to happen. These can feel more than just thoughts. Some can feel them. They can be constant, relentless, make you cringe, make you even question yourself because you’re having certain thoughts.
I find that these thoughts love to come when you want them the least. They definitely are not easy to ignore. It is like a relentless child meeting your attention. Waiting for you to put value want to what they just said. Repeating something over and over and over again. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad.
So the question is, are these intrusive thoughts harmful to you? The short answer is no. They are actually harmless. But, if you obsess about them, but value to them, and even try to find a way to get the thoughts to stop…. Then it can be a time where your life is now interrupted.
This can be often a sign of a mental health condition, often intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of anxiety, depression, OCD. When we say that everyone has intrusive thoughts. Somebody might have I thought that comes to your mind that causes some concern. This thought comes and it goes. If someone is struggling with a mental health condition, these thoughts come, and they come and they come and they come. That usually is accompanied by anxiety. By fear. By meaning. The brain is trying to interpret what just happened. It says that it must mean something important.
That right there is the trap. Once we start putting meaning on these thoughts, then we just put a value on them. Once they have value, they want to keep coming. Making individuals often feel bad about themselves.
Intrusive thoughts have many forms. Here are 3 types of intrusive thoughts
Sexual thoughts. It’s natural to have a sexual thought. They often come in they go. They’re very automatic end up to find you in anyway. When they are intrusive, they may come in the form of worry. Sexual intrusive thoughts can often include images and questions. It can be about anything and anyone.
Violent thoughts: Some may have harm thoughts. These thoughts may be related to hurting yourself or someone else. It could be an intrusive thought about pushing someone in front of a car. It can be fairly aggressive, he can make you wonder if you would ever act upon those thoughts. These thoughts can feel very real and graphic.
I called the next one just junk thoughts. You have no control over them, they have zero relevance to your life. You can be a thought about an interaction you had with somebody. It can be certain words that just repeat in your brain, certain images that keep coming back, more than them causing distress, they may cause annoyance. Individuals know that these thoughts don’t matter, yet they can’t get them out of their brain.
So here’s what you do with them…..NOTHING. --- Wow Nate, crap video bro. --- Wait, wait wait….hear me out. Nothing means, don’t come up with a list of things you can do to get the thoughts to stop. The second you devise a plan, the more thoughts you are likely to have. This is because we’re putting value on the thoughts. We’re saying they matter enough for us to problem solve how to get rid of them.
So with the NOTHING attitude, we see a thought as a thought. Don’t matter if it’s a harm thought, scary thoughts, or simply a plain on boring thought that just won’t stop. We can’t stop the thoughts, instead we can practice responding to them in a different way. Something like, “I’m loving these thoughts, you’re welcome to stick around” “join the party” “I may or may not have these thoughts all day, I’ve accepted it either way.” A thought is neither good or bad.
INVITE, INVITE, INVITE….It’s more enticing to a thought to want to come when it’s not welcome. When you’ve opened the doors and let whatever happen happen….it’s not as fun. There is a greater chance that this thought won’t come around.
Many may be asking….sooo when do these thoughts go away then? We don’t put a timeline on it. We don’t expect them to. We don’t look for freedom. We accept where we are now and enjoy the ride. The thoughts will slow down, when they slow down. In the meantime, your job is to LIVE life, let the thoughts be, don’t fix them, don’t make sense of them, don’t label them.
It’s doing what you want to do, NO MATTER WHAT thought comes your way. So, are you going to try it….Try Nothing. It’s worth your time to do nothing.
You know what will power you up? Subscribing to this channel. Thanks so much for watching and I will see you next time.
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Imagine yourself facing a monster. Maybe it’s your anxiety or OCD. It can take on any form. It can look like anything. It can be tall, small, short, big. It can have claws, horns, sharp teeth. It can be furry, bald, or however you’d describe your monster. Between you and the monster is a giant pit that represents your symptoms. The never-ending feelings of anxiety or OCD. The nagging questioning and doubting that anxiety loves to bring. This canyon or pit is BIG. Real big. You can hardly even see the bottom. It almost feels hopeless that this big pit will be there to stay forever. Now imagine yourself near the edge of this pit holding a rope. The rope spans across the pit. Guess who’s holding on to the other end. You guessed it, your monster. That pesty thing.
You are stuck in a perpetual tug of war. To not fall into the pit, you’re holding tighter. I mean, the rope has been your security and safety this long. (the rope are your compulsions….the things that your anxiety says will keep you safe) They are the….”just check the stove one more time” “are you sure you’re a good person, go ask mom again.” “better research again to make sure you didn’t really do that thing.” As you’re pulling this rope, you’re in constant battle with your symptoms. The monster. It really doesn’t budge, it won’t go over this pit.
You think that the more you pull this rope (do the compulsions) the closer you’ll get to finding freedom and allowing that monster drop right into the pit. The sad part is….the monster gets right to that edge and does one bit TUG, pulling you right back into those compulsions and making you doubt all over again. It can feel never ending. The only thing the brain says is to keep trying….you almost had it. This cycle repeats over and over again. There is one thing the monster doesn’t expect……..you drop the rope. That’s right. You have all the power in the world. You’ve been feeding it this whole time. You stop doing the compulsions. You stop trying to figure it out. You stop all of it. You allow the anxiety to just be there. You even act like you don’t care. The monster is ANGRY man.
It screams across the pit telling you to pick the rope back up…it’s the only way…it throws out these threats… You answer each threat by agreeing with it or saying, “yep, maybe.” “cool, thanks for that thought.” You learn that the chatter of the monster slows down. It finally takes a seat….It’s no fun for this monster. You’ll realize that the threats it’s ever given you have been false this whole time. The urge to pick this rope back up becomes less and less. It takes commitment, but you do it. You’re dedicated to NEVER figure out your “what if” or to react to any “perceived threat” that comes your way. You’ve gained control again.
You’re the boss. You may feel like you didn’t “win” the battle, but you’ve accepted it for what it is. Acceptance is key. You’ve learned to live with this monster regardless of the threats. Some days it’s tougher, some days it’s no big deal. Regardless… you live the life you want to live. Ultimately, what I want you to do is to figure out what you’re still holding on to and allow yourself to “drop the rope”. Your time is NOW. Make sure you check out my online self-directed OCD course to help you drop the rope and learn the correct treatment for your own OCD. What things do you need to drop the rope with? Thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time.
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Nathan Peterson, LCSW
OCD can be tricky! I want to provide useful information for your OCD, anxiety, tics, tourette's, BFRBs, and many other anxiety related disorders.