How to deal with intrusive thoughts

There are few people who I believe can say that at some point, they've never held on to thoughts that don't leave them feeling good.  Thoughts are like phone calls, they can just pop up and interrupt your day, but unlike your phone, you can't just turn your mind off as a way of avoiding them.  

So here are two techniques that I find to be very effective in moving those thoughts on.

Who is knocking at your door?

Thoughts are a bit like strangers knocking at your door - you can't stop them knocking, but you don't have to invite them in, make them a brew or give them a bed for the night.  But you do that with your thoughts!  Any old thought, including the hostile ones are invited on in, made welcome and entertained, over and over again - and often they get really comfy!

So when you notice that stranger knocking (ie become aware of your thought) you can politely say, "not today thank you" and close the door.  They may knock again - just don't answer.  Or if they are really persistent, you can afford to get a bit more assertive!

What happens is that thought stops knocking. 

You can however, actively invite good thoughts in and entertain them for as long as you want.  They may be memories, they may be dreams - your mind is not fussy what it dwells on so why not make the choice of what thought you entertain?

Car Park Attendant

Your mind only has one parking space for each thought and so for a new one to come in, the old one has to reverse out.  And ladies, this is one where we really can't claim to be able to multi task and have many thoughts at once.  That parking space may be very active with thoughts driving in and out but only one can have your attention at any one time.

So with this metaphor it is all about managing the park space and if you aware that an unsavoury car has parked up, reverse it out and allow another smarter car to take it's place.

And just like the other technique above, you get to choose which car you want to have parked - whether that be your favourite battered old mini or a Lotus Esprit!  It's your park space, you choose who uses it

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You may be thinking that these techniques are simplistic, and you would be right!  Why make it difficult, they are only thoughts?  Do you want them to be in control of you or do you now want to use one of these to control them?

So which one do you think is going to work for you best?  Please share with me in the comments box below.

Published by Caroline Cavanagh, Anxiety Specialist and author of Anxiety Alchemy on |


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