How to manage intrusive thoughts?


In line with what @MelanieWi1l shared, I've had two days of intrusive thoughts. Not all day but enough to last for a while and I just let them run their course. I don't interact with the thoughts, I don't try to change them, I don't argue or deny. I just let them run their course. And without attention given they eventually just stop.

They are not me or who I was, who I am now. I own my thoughts. They don't own me.


New Here
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.


New Here
Ice-cold/ warm showers.. alternately. Reaching a certain heart rate when fitness training.
I am so sorry that you are having to go through all of this. These are some of the things that I do that work for me. It will take some practice. First of all, your mind is sometimes your worst enemy; therefore, you shouldn't believe everything that it says.
We experience our life in one of two ways - through our mind or through our being. Most everyone lives in their mind. Unfortunately the mind likes to solve all problems and make up problems. This is where we get into trouble. The mind can be your worst enemy. The mind is wonderful at solving external problems. (flat tire, overslept, pay bills, etc.) The mind is not designed to resolve internal problems. (negative thoughts, obsessions, jealously, anger, etc.)

When negative/repetitive/unhealthy thoughts come to your mind just observe them. The secret is not to engage as this will energize them and cause the thoughts to worsen. Being aware of them but not engaging will give you some distance from these thoughts. Re-center yourself by taking 3 deep breaths. Be aware of your surroundings by just observing. Utilize all of your senses. What sounds are you aware of? What do you smell? Can you feel your feet touching the floor? Can you taste anything? What things out of the ordinary do you see? This will slow the thinking down and provide you with some peace. Instead of thinking you are experiencing life!

You may need to do this many times during the day or else you will find yourself engaging with the thoughts. Engaging keeps them alive so don't do that. Thoughts will go away on their own if you let them be. I re-center my self as soon as I wake up in the morning, during showers, meals, driving to work, walking in the front door, before I greet people, before attending an event, just before giving a speech and especially if someone is rude to me. I believe that it can really make a difference for you.


What @rdd said.

I used to have severely disabling intrusive thinking. They were mostly about death and dying - mine, my cats, my family members. Sometimes I couldn't manage day-to-day stuff because of them.

The only thing that helped me was mindfulness. And by that I mean simply being aware of them. I'd have a thought, "watch" it, then just let it pass. It's hard, not grabbing onto thoughts and making them bigger than what they are. But just watching them, like they are not connected to you but are somewhere out *there* helps you allow them to pass, to let go of them.

Honestly, I don't have them much at all anymore. I went through training to learn how to do this, and I had a supportive therapist help me, which I think is important.


Love reading all the responses! In the year and a half since I posted I have organized my thoughts better, so I can challenge the thoughts that have whole words in them. My intrusive thoughts (with actual words) are down to maybe a few times a day on a bad day.

Now I’m approaching non-verbal emotional flashbacks and they seem to be dripping down me every day. A steady drip of nervous fear without any trigger. The good news is there is no trembling associated with it.

One of the things I found myself thinking about was the brain spotting and the idea of a trauma therapist versus a talk therapist. My primary traumas happened before I could speak. My talk T says I need to focus on non-verbal activities. When I am in session and we approach those feelings I shut down, sometimes I leave.

I want my T to just force it out of me, but I think she doesn’t want to destabilize me, which makes sense.

So now I have intrusive emotional flashbacks and intrusive inner children—lol. These are my coping and grounding strategies : carry special rocks in pocket to touch, essential oils, eat every 2-3 hours, positive self talk every hour, creative art every day, play piano and make up songs, walk outside intentionally every day, listen to music, watery activities.


I want my T to just force it out of me, but I think she doesn’t want to destabilize me, which makes sense.
Never a good plan. You tap on it with a finger and it kicks back like a mule....

The whole thing with intrusive thoughts are, they all seem to come with panic and negativity. I just have to tell myself they are just that, panic, and ask 1. Is it real? 2. Is it actually happening? 3. Where am I, am I safe?

Getting busy doing stuff or finding something to focus on really help. Laughter helps a lot too - there's a change in mood where that dark panicky stuff doesn't work.