Own your intrusive thoughts
Do you own your thoughts, or do your thoughts own you? Every thought you have has validity of who you are and what you wanted to think of...right?
There is a point where you have to look at the behaviors you're doing because of the thoughts and see who has ownership. Here is what I mean! The thoughts that cross you remind predict your actions. We either are going to push a thought away or do an action or a behavior because of the thought.
Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that we don't really want but we have them anyway. They come and go as they please. The thoughts we give attention to are the ones that want to stick around.
But we don't always react to our thoughts. If we did, wouldn't we really be our thoughts? For example...I'm sitting at a restaurant and am looking at someone's food. I'm hungry, my food hasn't gotten here yet. I have the thought, I should go over there and take a piece of bacon. I wonder what would happen. I have feelings, I have thoughts....you know what I don't have....the action.
This tells us that we ACTUALLY have a choice. I can see that thought as random noise. meaningless. Because a thought is a thought.
Here is a literal definition of a thought. It is merely an idea or opinion created by your mind. It is sudden and spontaneous and has no particular origin. Wow. think of that. This thought has no home. It's a random collection of thoughts that can cause real emotions which make us doubt and question something.
So who is owning your thoughts? Well in one way, you do. In another way. No-one does. It has no where to go until we do an action to put it in it's place or just let it fly on by. When it comes to these intrusive thoughts, they can be about anything and cause extreme doubt, which make you believe they are valid. These random thoughts can be toward relationships, getting sick, possible harm, memories, and even responsibilities.
When these thoughts don't match your value system we need to treat them as fluff. Nothing. Garbage. A random signal. Meaningless. Once we attach to it and attempt to figure it out, it's going to happen more and more and more. That is when these thoughts own you. You're doing behaviors to remove the thought or perceived threat.
Let me tell you why it's important to recognize that you aren't your thoughts. If I take every random thought and run with it. I'm going to be convincing myself that I'm a monster pretty darn quick. If I pass by a girl and my brain says, "wow, she's cute" my brain tries to make sense of this. It's going to say, "well, you must not love your spouse" or you "just cheated" OR I could say, "hey, thanks for the thought today brain."
Ultimately, we need to stop taking our brain so seriously. It's screaming out thoughts just to get your attention and says they all mean something, but you're not going to fall for it anymore.
Let's actually own these thoughts by giving these types of responses:
"sup thought" "coolio, thanks for that." "yep, I guess that could happen" "maybe, maybe not." "you're welcome to stay thought" You're also practicing now pushing them away or making since of them.
You're not giving them a good home to burrow into. Once you say, this thought has meaning. It just snuggles right into bed with you. Taking the opposite and not giving it a great answer and just letting it pass on by...it moves over to the neighbors.....no neighbor. It may stick it's head over the fence to try a few more times. But that response of "I do not care" is important so it knows, "man, you can keep trying, and I'm willing to listen to you, but I'm giving you nothing."
But Nate! How will I know when it's a thought I actually need to pay attention to? Well, here's my indication. Anxiety mixed with an urge to know. It's a trap! Anxiety always tell the brain the thought is dangerous, BUT here's the kicker. If you don't actually see the danger right in front of you, and I mean it. RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. It's not super obvious. Then, we're treating a thought as a thought and allowing it to pass.
If you treat a thought as a thought, but try to push it away, you're saying it has value. We don't want to do this. Give yourself more grace for having a thought. No really. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your brain and all the processes it does. the positive thoughts and even the negative ones.
Our brain isn't trying to hurt us. Instead, it's actually attempting to help. It's just not doing a great job at it at times. Our job is to retrain it by the responses we give. That response is the most important thing in all of this. Think about this with the next thought you have that causes some distress. My action right now is going to determine if this is important or not. Choose wisely.
The next time you have intense intrusive thoughts and you're trying to figure out what you're going to do with them....remember that you don't have to do anything. You have a choice if your thoughts are going to own you or if you're going to own your thoughts.
Did you know there are at least 3 types of intrusive thoughts? I made a video about these and how to actually get them to slow down. You're going to need to enhance these skills so you can become even more of a boss!
Owning your intrusive thoughts
Intrusive thoughts - don't click on the ad
Don't click on the ad!
Have you ever just been scrolling the internet or social media and you see those ads pop up. they can be flashy, they can have some great one liner hooks I just capture your attention. But whatever you do, do not click on the ad. these ads are like your random thoughts. Those random intrusive thoughts that you don't really want but they just keep coming back anyway. What's worse is that they start joining your everyday life and activities. These ads can be intrusive.
If you allow those ads to be there. Actually will slow down and sometimes be non-existent. You just told your computer or your thoughts that these ads have no value in your life and you're simply not interested. When one topic disappears, another may take its place. This new flashy ad seems important. It's new, you're not used to it and it seems highly important for you to pay attention to it.
Do not click on the ad!
When you're scrolling through social media and moving from page to page, you notice this ad following you. The ads say, you don't really love your partner to you? What if you pushed somebody harmful? What if you're going to get sick now? have you ever thought about this past experience how awful it was? today's the day you need to figure out you were identity? how do you even know there is a God? Your monster and I'll show you why.
How tempting would it be to just click on this and once and take a peek. They don't know me! seriously, I'm not that kind of person. I'm starting my faith. I would never harm anyone. I love my partner. Let me just click on this ad so I can see what the fuss is all about. It is so intriguing that this thought goes completely against who I am and I want to figure out why. this is completely natural. I would want to know why my thoughts seem to be against me. I mean I'm just scrolling through social media, I'm just doing my homework, just watching a TV show. These ads are relentless and follow the person anywhere.
Do not click on the ad!
You have clicked on the ad. here is what is going to happen. This ad that makes you question your partner is now going to show up everywhere. You just taught your brain that this thought or ad has value. It gave it permission to say, "here I am" "here I am" "remember me" "I'm still here" -- thanks for giving me some attention. I'm here to tell you that it has meaning.
In the digital world, when someone clicks on an ad, it teaches it that you care and thus they spend more to put that ad more in front of your face. They often call it retargeting. This intrusive thought is retargeting you. The cool thing about these retargets is that if you stop clicking on the ad, they eventually go away. Depending on the budget, it may last a few days. It may last a few weeks. But the thing to always count on is that they will slow down. Who wants to spend "money" or "energy" on someone who simply isn't showing any interest?
So if you're not getting what I'm saying. Do not click on the ad and here are some tips to give you better chance.
Notice the ads, allow them to be there. Don't use an adblocker. We don't push the thoughts away. We don't try to control them. We let them be. When you're scrolling, you may notice the thought or ad, but your job is to continue scrolling. If you must give the thought a response they can look like this.
"hey thought" "welcome" "great to see you" "sure" "maybe" "maybe not" "thanks for the thought today." "You're welcome to stay as long as you want."
When we give these responses and you may have to do them a lot. It shows the brain that you've recognized the thought, but aren't giving them much value. It's the "I don't care" attitude.
This attitude is the antidote to intrusive thoughts. Allow them to be there, respond differently than you normally would and move forward. Continue living life and do exactly what you want to do. These thoughts may infiltrate various aspects of your day and life but don't stop living. You not stop moving forward. Just like these ads, it got nothing to retarget when you simply give them no value. And as these flashy ads keep switching we treat each one the same way. Not one thought is more important then another. Thoughts are thoughts. Let them be thoughts.
We can't ignore the anxiety and distress that come from these thoughts. Just know that these feels tend to be false. it's that extra push for you to click on those ads. Instead, we treat these feelings the same. To me, it's a false signal. Anxiety without immediate danger is false anxiety. It's based on a guess and on a meaning that you've put upon this thought.
We can treat this anxiety the same. "hey anxiety" "welcome" "you're welcome to stay" "I love love love these feelings" When our response to anxiety changes. You're putting your arm around it. It learns that as it's freaking out, you're cool as a cucumber. Teaching it to no longer freak out about an intrusive thought. It often doesn't know until you teach it.
These ads have nothing on you. You're too powerful. Tell yourself this! Don't click on the ad the next time your intrusive thought demands attention. Act as if you don't care. Welcome it. Acknowledge and move forward.
Speaking of intrusive thoughts. You need to enhance your skills even more. I've come up with even more responses to these pesky thoughts. Go watch that video here. It's worth your time!
How to stop Intrusive Thoughts
Perfectionism OCD and how to be imperfect
This is Nathan Peterson, licensed clinician and OCD specialist.
Did you know that not all protectionism is bad? I'm going to get right into what healthy perfectionism an unhealthy perfectionism look like.
Healthy is goal oriented behavior. Great organizational skills. Persistence and a high standard for yourself.
Unhealthy perfectionism May consist doubts whether you're doing something correctly or not. Creating unrealistic expectations for yourself. Maybe having a preoccupation with past mistakes. A high level I thought when it comes to making decisions and the fear that you might make a new mistake. Correcting or fixing something over and over and over again until it's just right.
Let's go over what perfectionism OCD looks like and what we're going to do with this pesky need to be perfect.
This is one of the key phrases to remember. Just right. Individuals may feel this intense emotion (often anxiety) if something is wrong, even if it's not. They may spend hours trying to correct something or do a behavior until this feeling feels okay or until it's just right. This could be reading something over and over and over again because the brain says all right and if you don't do it again you probably won't get a hundred percent on that assignment. The trick is it doesn't seem to be a point or the brain says, that's it! You are perfect and you got it.
Do your best. That is something we've been taught our entire life. Our whole society is based off of succeeding and competing with each other. What is this advice actually starts controlling your life. You don't feel like anything is good enough. You even gotten 100% on an assignment but you know there's an extra credit point I could have given you a 101% --- a lot of this has to do with self-worth and really anxiety. When your self-worth is defined by your achievements yet you are not happy with any of them thus creating the need to correct and perfect all over again.
Somebody has an unrealistic a goal of themself that really is unattainable, they try endlessly to to succeed and they will continue to ruminate on this goal that is simply not ever going to be met. and when this goal is not met, it only drives them to continue working on it in feeling anxious and worthless by the same time.
Some may say, who cares if somebody has a high goal of themself. Well, the difference between someone setting goals vs. Perfectionism is that with perfectionism they're feeling a lot of anxiety, they're doing a lot of repetitive behaviors that are often unnecessary and doesn't take them closer to a goal.
In short, perfectionist make no room for mistakes. They may be preoccupied with past mistakes in fear future failures. They may see others around them and have a high expectation and standard for them as well.
In short, we're going to mess this it all up. We are going to use what is called exposure and response prevention. actually we'll practice making mistakes on purpose. We will do something wrong. We're not going to do anything that breaks your morals or values. Instead we are going to find the thing it matters to you the most and mess it up. Maybe I send a text message to my friend with a lot of misspelling. I might actually not read a page in my textbook. I'm going to do the things that make me feel nervous and anxious and respond completely different to them. I'm going to risk that people might judge me. My response is important. If I send a text with a lot of misspelling I don't sit there and say, I hope they're not judging me. instead, I might be saying I sure hope they judge me today. Man I love making mistakes. They may or may not be judging me. I'm possibly never getting into that College. I sure hope I miss a question on my assignment. Because I feel the need to re-read this phrase I'm actually going to read it backwards. I'm going to purposely not know this thing right now.
What happens is that my brain learns actually I'm okay. That when there is an actual problem we will solve it. If someone judges me someday, I say, bummer. That's too bad. eventually we are living a life we want to live. We can have those moments of satisfaction but know that it doesn't mean everything. We grow with this feeling of not being satisfied and not feeling like we did well enough. We don't always have to take action just because we had that feeling.
So with the treatment name, exposure and response prevention, you are exposing the fear that you were making a mistake can you are responding as if you simply don't care. You're choosing to feel anxiety on purpose. These feelings can't last forever which is why we keep practicing it over and over and over again.
What mistakes are you going to make today? How can you be imperfect? can you know what's related a lot this perfectionism, this feeling of being just right which is talked about in this video right here on the screen. Go to it right now if you experience this as well.
Perfectionism OCD treatment
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.