Do you sometimes feel like your thoughts are beyond your control, and some of them make you uncomfortable? If so, you can relax. Intrusive thoughts are very common and usually just a distraction.
One study reported by Psychology Today asked volunteers to talk about what goes through their minds. They found that the average participant had about 500 unintentional thoughts each day, and about 30% were socially unacceptable or downright shocking.
You can learn to feel more at ease even when your mind takes a little dark turn. Discover how meditation and other self-help techniques can tame intrusive thoughts.
Meditating to Tame Intrusive Thoughts:
Recent focus on mindfulness and meditation has inspired the development of many meditation tools such as meditation apps, guides, recordings, seminars and objects. All of them make meditation and mindfulness more accessible and practical to integrate into everyday living.
Studies show that reducing stress and anxiety is greatly enhanced by fully engaging with one of our five senses. What if we increase that effect and make one of our senses become our guide and support in achieving mindfulness and meditation?
Using our sense of touch with a tactile object can not only release those intrusive thoughts, but it can release stress and anxiety on a very deep level.
1. Let go of judgments
Most of your discomfort probably comes from resisting what is on your mind rather than from the thought itself. With regular practice, using your sense of touch with mindfulness meditation can train you to observe and accept your thoughts.
2. Focus on your breath.
Paying attention to your breath keeps you in the present moment. You learn to distinguish between you and your passing thoughts.
3. Slow down.
Most intrusive thoughts last 14 seconds or less. Patiently waiting them out may make them pass even quicker.
Other Methods for Taming Intrusive Thoughts:
1. Avoid suppression.
Trying to avoid intrusive thoughts usually backfires. It’s like the famous Harvard experiment that asked subjects to stop thinking about polar bears and wound up making it difficult to think about anything else.
2. Change your expectations.
Dreading unwelcome thoughts also reinforces them. Try to view them as a routine part of daily life.
3. Change the script
If you tend to replay unpleasant events, give yourself something more pleasant and productive to think about. Forget about office politics and focus on what to eat for dinner.
4. Stay on task
Do you avoid certain activities because they trigger thoughts you find it difficult to manage? You may be able to free yourself from such limitations by planning more constructive approaches. Develop more compassion for someone you disagree with instead of shutting them out.
5. Try to disengage
Depending on your personality and preferences, you may want to minimize your involvement with involuntary thoughts. Consider them irrelevant and carry on with what you’re doing.
6. Think it through
On the other hand, you may feel more relief when you face things head on. Write your thoughts down or talk them over with someone you trust if you find that helpful and not distressing.
7. Rest and relax
It’s natural for your mind to wander, but you may feel like it’s getting too much exercise. In addition to meditation, use relaxation methods like engaging fully in your sense of touch, listening to soft music and taking a long walk.
Professional Treatment for Intrusive Thoughts:
1. See your health practitioner
While involuntary thoughts usually have no significant effects, they may be more troubling for you. That is especially true if you have certain conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, or depression. Let your health practitioner know about any symptoms that are disrupting your life.
2. Talk with a therapist
Cognitive behavior and other talk therapies can be highly effective for dealing with intrusive thoughts. Ask your doctor for a referral or consult a local or an on-line directory of practitioners and healers.
Intrusive thoughts will probably continue to pop into your head, but you can live more comfortably with them through meditation and other simple techniques. If you need more help, talk with your health practitioner, therapist or coach to find the treatment and relief you need.
Are you ready to make personal and spiritual changes in your life? Consider a one on one private session with Moira or a reading to free yourself from limitations and open yourself up to greater possibilities? Click here to open the door.
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