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How to manage intrusive thoughts?

#13
This is a great topic and timely and something I have been thinking about lately a lot.

I think you have gotten a lot of great feedback! the only thing I could add (and maybe it is already been said but I missed) is that ...for me it depends what the thoughts are about. The nature and the owner...for example, am I beating up myself with my mother's voice/tone? or am I just wildly daydreaming and imagining and building myself up blahahaha. So it depends. The first one used to be a huge problem for me and when it stops being my mother, it used to become whoever is annoying me (real or perceived) at that time. I used humor to shut it down. I learned rather than fighting literally and figuretively in my head, I would crack jokes and use humor. So I would go...hereeeeeeeeeeeee we go again! let us see who is the winnerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr? I am exaggerating a bit but hope you get the gist. when I change to humor it is a reminder that was a learned behaviour or direct memory got stuck in my mind and my adult part of today can make it bigger or funny.

The latter one about distracting, daydreaming, I voice this one outloud to my husband or a co-worker etc. I am really not feeling so good today and feel like staying in my head. I am crazy enough to know normal stuff so I use proper language as not to quite off the rocker here...so either way, I use soft language to handle it within.

On intellectual level or cognitive level, I am learning now that we carry our "self" part and every other person's self part who ever crossed our path in our head as representations and sometimes truly some of those representations (especially those that abuse us, specifically as children where our memory is not as good as an adult who had abuse) can become a real "self" parts inside of us and be intrusive and can cause real mental horror....so if I am being cognitive or intellectual about it, then I teach myself how to create compassion between my "self" parts (that I was born with) and the others' "self" parts I carry from the past (both good and the bad)...since logically speaking I am alone and stressed by the memory and experience and no one is with me at the time. I sit with the cognitive empathy or compassion between all these selves (mine and others) fighting inside my head...you may call this meditation but I call it cognition sit through and let the selves become on friendly terms. Makes sense? I hope. I find doing this long enough, it becomes part of me and it is automatic or at least the intrusion is gone long periods of time.
Also, this is a side note, try as best as you can minimizing real external stress. It is hard (at least for me) to have peace inside when outside is burning.
 
Thread starter #14
a protector's switch got turned on
That’s a good way to look at it. I forget that the self-criticism is a protector part. Feels like an enemy, but “all parts are welcome here,” is one of the mantras of IFS.

for me it depends what the thoughts are about. The nature and the owner...
Makes sense, and you did a good job of explaining it. That’s interesting how all the people you interacted with become absorbed into your self-understanding.

Your meditation practice sounds very effective. Instead of practicing blank stillness, like how I remember meditating in the past, it sounds like you’re practicing sitting with all your parts. Like everyone is together and Self (Higher Self) is at the helm, reminding all the parts of their important presence and their ability to listen to each other.

Now I am aware of the importance of connecting the voice with a source, but will need to develop my ability to actually do it.

For the past few days the tactic that I tried, and has been helpful so I used it more than once, is asking, “I wonder what my next thought will be?”

Since the thoughts are so brief anyway I don’t have to be afraid that I will be stuck in a shame spiral, so asking that question gives power to the noticer.

It’s kind of like ignoring, but without giving away as much power. I know from having kids that children frequently see ignoring as a challenge worth accepting, and will often amplify their voice or message when they detect it.

So wondering what the next thought will be is acknowledging the voice and it’s source—which might be a protector, but it feels very small... yeah, I don’t know who it is—but not giving it focus or validation. Uh-oh, I’m giving myself away to that part! She’s so clever. Lol. Must be around 13y. ;)

But it’s genuine! I *do* wonder what the next thought will be!

I feel a little bit “fresher,” like I rearranged some furniture in my head. Like I brought home a bunch of groceries and neatly put them all away.
 
#15
I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress in the three years since I started my recovery. I am grateful for what’s present. I can receive love more than before. I can say no or yes and mean it. I can be aware of myself for significant amounts of time every day.

Currently the intrusive negative thoughts are draining though. Every day, but especially in the morning and in intervals throughout the day. They don’t have the weight that they used to, but they are so persistent! I must have laid down a thick rope of neurons dedicated to negative thoughts in my past.

I am writing to ask for ideas and strategies which have brought you some relief, even if temporary.

Strategies I use:
+ Ignoring
+ Countering with a positive message
+ Moving my body

Maybe I just need to keep doing those things but I would like to know of anything else that might help.

Something which I think might help, but haven’t tried yet, is setting aside time to give myself positive messages every day, rather than just using the positive messages when I need to battle the negative thoughts. I can feel the resistance in my chest to doing something like that, but it’s an idea.
I’ve had ocd and I seen a therapist years ago, he told me if I had a thought just laugh at it and accept it, the more you fight a thought the more it bounces back, I used to analyse my thoughts for hours, exercise is brilliant too if you can, and music, I’ve been listening a lot to music, this works for me and I understand not for everyone,
 
#16
I’ve had ocd and I seen a therapist years ago, he told me if I had a thought just laugh at it and accept it, the more you fight a thought the more it bounces back, I used to analyse my thoughts for hours, exercise is brilliant too if you can, and music, I’ve been listening a lot to music, this works for me and I understand not for everyone,
Music is a great distractor and I put on positive, believing, overcoming music which helps me redirect those messages. Singing with the lyrics....all the more helpful.
 
#18
I think acceptance and commitment therapy could be really helpful for this.

In acceptance and commitment therapy the sim is not to fight what is happening or try to stop it. Kind of with the idea that what you resist persists.

But instead to be present for what is happening, which can allow it to pass easier.

The book by Russ Harris- The Happiness Trap was suggested to me by my PTSD treatment team and I love it.

Also there are free audio file downloads on his site for an exercise called dropping anchor which are very effective.
 
I

Ice Queen Cop

#19
I would also add, scent is a great disruptor. Something strong and pleasant. Lots of places carry aromatherapy things. You can wear a bracelet with a bead that’s scented or a necklace with a scent pad- lots of ways to use aromatherapy. It is part of grounding, and it’s a great interruptor.
 
#20
I used to break the intrusive thoughts by just talking-saying something. It can be a bad habit when around others and the first thing that comes to mind is a foul word (what is that really? Its just vibrating air but it can irritate some people more than a stench or an eye sore or a bad taste- I don't get it) but it has been, and, unless I restrain myself, is still a great thought breaker.
EMDR has helped me to categorize some of those thoughts as being from this source or that source and further to define them as being a part of some powerful human internal motivations like survival and such. It has helped to know that some thoughts are just my brain reminding me to never do that again or to let that happen to me again and as such have value but don't need to be constantly coming back up. Think or mouth or say the word "thanks" and move on.
 
#21
I used to break the intrusive thoughts by just talking-saying something. It can be a bad habit when around others and the first thing that comes to mind is a foul word (what is that really? Its just vibrating air but it can irritate some people more than a stench or an eye sore or a bad taste- I don't get it) but it has been, and, unless I restrain myself, is still a great thought breaker.
EMDR has helped me to categorize some of those thoughts as being from this source or that source and further to define them as being a part of some powerful human internal motivations like survival and such. It has helped to know that some thoughts are just my brain reminding me to never do that again or to let that happen to me again and as such have value but don't need to be constantly coming back up. Think or mouth or say the word "thanks" and move on.
I struggled with emdr, then I did brain spotting and it’s really helped me process a lot of shit, I’ve had flashbacks last two weeks of new shit, I struggled badly for days, I’m ok now, a thought does not define who you are, I struggled with this at times, meditation helps me greatly, progress takes time, we’ll get there in time👍🏻
 
#22
@Carpman I am working with a new psych doing brain spotting and having similar struggles. With enough outside approval from the psych and my willingness to see where the thoughts take me I am going down some very dark alleys that I have avoided for a very long time. Thanks for the positive support.
 
#23
@Carpman I am working with a new psych doing brain spotting and having similar struggles. With enough outside approval from the psych and my willingness to see where the thoughts take me I am going down some very dark alleys that I have avoided for a very long time. Thanks for the positive support.
It’s ok I’ve been there pal, we all have, I still go there, don’t push yourself too hard, some days just sit back, and be kind to yourself , ok👍🏻
 
#24
@Carpman that's the homework assignment THIS WEEK. Last week was a different story. Ebbs and flows.

Grateful for the help along the way. Don't know how far this stuff goes but the psych knows the way out- we hope. Thanks and best to you.

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