I write this blog with a loved one in mind, who I see really struggling with persistent, nagging thoughts…which is happening for them at a great personal loss.
Having had anxiety and intrusive thoughts for many years myself, I write this from a more personal angle.
When I think about my life and when I have noticed having the worst times of intrusive thoughts, I remember the thoughts being very focused on my old phobia – fear of vomiting. Life was literally happening all around me and I was missing out on all of it because I was so focused on this… and ALL of my thoughts revolved around trying to control it.
I believe a series of events happened in order for me to heal from this phobia and having those constant, nagging thoughts quietened.
I vividly remember sitting in my doctor’s office last year, holding the hand of his secretary, begging him to stop my nagging thoughts. I couldn’t see how I could possibly do this myself. (I had that fear for a total of 24 years). 😢
At that point, I was not living any sort of a life that was resulting in happiness; for myself, or anyone around me. Although I had a beautiful family of my own that I knew was the most important thing in the world to me, these nagging thoughts were occupying more of my time.
I was desperate for change.
But I had to be patient.
Patience is not a trait I’m very good at! When I want something, I want it NOW!
I believe all of these following things happened in order for me to ACCEPT and LET GO of unwanted thoughts leading to disappointing behaviour;
– overcoming addiction and realising life is something to be grateful for,
– trialling and finally finding the correct medication for my body,
– facing my phobia head on,
– accepting that some things in life are unpleasant, uncomfortable and stressful, but they will never break me.
Intrusive thoughts feed off themselves and become habitual. The meer fact that we ruminate about things we don’t want to think about (or do) only makes us be more aware of it and think more about it! It’s like telling someone how a movie is going to end before the movie starts…. they will always have it in their mind the whole way through the movie. 🎥
The trick is to break the cycle! You can read many studies on this very topic if you Google it, but I want to share what I have found to work for me!
When I find myself going around and around in circles, ‘stuck in a loop’ of negative, intrusive thoughts, I literally think to myself, “Nope! I don’t have time for this, I’ve got things to do!”. And I get busy with other things! (My children ALWAYS provide great distractions….. without fail!).
Distraction is a great tool to use to break the cycle of thinking about a particular thing that won’t go away! But the distraction you engage yourself in, must require your full attention! If it’s something you can do while thinking about other things, it won’t work… your mind will wander back to what’s bothering you. Taking up a hobby that requires thinking and creativity is a great option! Or getting stuck into planning an event or holiday is also exciting and will engage your mind in a positive way! 👍🏻
2. Talk it out.
Anyone can allow themselves to sit and dwell on something. The second you realise that you do actually have the choice to remain seated inside your little world, or get up and remove yourself and even talk about what’s going on in your mind – you will find that there is sooooo much else going on that you could be enjoying. You might even be surprised to find that other people share similar thoughts and you can help each other! (Helping someone else can be a great distraction and also shift your focus from yourself to others!)
Look for ways to make someone else’s day, better! Ask yourself, “I wonder how that person is feeling. 🤔 How would I feel if I was them? What can I do to help them feel better?”. You will feel more accomplished with yourself because you will know in your heart that you are a good person. ❤️
Life is not all flowers, picnics and long walks on the beach…. we all get caught up in our thoughts from time to time and don’t want to stop something until the job is done!
For a very long time, I could not (or probably more accurately – ‘I did not want to’) accept any negative feelings, such as; anxiety, grief, or stress. But since my body and mind have returned to a normal, healthy and balanced state, I can truly accept that there are things in life we all want done now, but it just might not be the right time… I lacked the courage of being able to put something out of my mind until a better time arrived.
I’ve since learned that courage.
If there is something on your mind that you really feel the need to get done, and you choose to ignore it and do something else, expect a little bit of anxiety! But reassure yourself, that’s all it is. It can’t harm you, and you will be fine!
4. Stay active.
Walk yourself out of your own unhelpful thoughts. Run if you must. 🏃🏻♀️
Whilst outside and on your journey, try and notice the world around you; are there many clouds in the sky today?, I wonder what that plant is called?, or, is that a truck I can hear in the distance?
Getting your body moving, also helps to move your mind.
5. Self talk
You have got to tell yourself (and truly believe it!!!) that there is absolutely no real need to always be getting things done. What will it achieve at the end of the day? Sure, you may have organised or cleaned a room but is that how you really want to be spending all of your time?
Pure joy is felt when you notice how you and your loved ones are feeling! If you allow yourself time to be there for the ones you care about; watching them, nurturing them, having fun with them… your heart will fill with happiness! 😁
You will feel so much more fulfilled and proud of yourself for having a good day, and for making those around you feel loved. ❤️
6. Lastly – Do the job.
You’re probably thinking, ” Why did I bother reading this, now I’m being told to do the thing that is really bothering me?”
Well, sometimes to get something out of your mind completely, you may need to just get the job done… my point of this blog though, is to practise learning when to prioritise appropriate time to do your job.
When the time is right, and you plan ahead, you can work towards overcoming anything.
Ask for help. If you have set a goal for yourself that is proving to be too hard to achieve, chances are if you ask someone close to you to help you, they will most likely be glad to! (Keep in mind though that you will probably have to practise patience because you may need to wait until the other person can make the time to actually help you!)
“Two hands are better than one!”.
Be patient; and trust the journey 🙏🏻
You will get there!
“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day! JUST RELAX. Master the day, then just keep doing that everyday.” – Sharon Souls