Befriending your intrusive thoughts

In this podcast (episode #550) and blog, I talk about how you can save yourself from the intrusive thoughts that are affecting you. 

It is important to realize that you are your mind, and your mind runs your brain and body. This means that you have a lot of control over your life. So, even though you are the one who has to sit with the thoughts that make you feel so much pain or frustration that you will do anything to avoid them… you are the one who has to deal with those “would have, should have, could have, if only” thoughts that affect your wellbeing… you are the one who has to hear the endless round of shame and hatred in your head that makes you think less of yourself… and you are the one being crippled by all those intrusive thoughts… you also have the power to change ALL of this.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is the “I can help myself deal with my mind” mindset, which will free yourself to rely on your intuition and strengths when no one or nothing else is there to support you. Of course, we all need community, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help (in fact, it is necessary in life!). However, no matter how many great, loving, wise and supportive conversations you have with loved ones, friends, therapists and so on, no one except you can get in your mind and manage the messiness.

You are with yourself 24/7, not your therapist, friend or family member, and you need to know how to handle yourself in those alone moments. This will take time to learn how to do, but it is possible—your mind is incredibly powerful and capable, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. 

Learning how to “be” with yourself is key, and it does not mean that you will never be sad, unhappy, angry, upset, anxious or so on. These are normal human emotions that we all experience. And, in many cases, things do feel worse before they feel better—we even see this in the research! Just think of having a surgery to fix a problem; you must be cut up to be healed up. The mind is similar; it will take some pain, some digging, some fixing to heal. 

Indeed, it's necessary to grieve what you have lost, and feel sad and depressed for what was taken from you if you have suffered in the past. It is normal to feel anxious about something that was a scary experience. You have to feel to heal. You have to learn how to sit with your pain, deconstruct it, and, most importantly, reconstruct it and decide how it plays out into your future. 

When you develop an “I can help myself deal with my mind” mindset, it actually turbo boosts the brain’s ability to change, grow and heal (called neuroplasticity). You move into a very powerful, deep learning state when you embrace this way of thinking! You will realize that, at the end of the day, “I have the power to save myself.”. 

But what does the “I can help myself deal with my mind” mindset look like? It looks like you being honest and vulnerable and authentic with yourself. It looks like you facing your pain. It looks like you being able to sit with the fear, terror, frustration and whatever other emotions your past drudges up. It looks like you seeing the behaviors associated with these emotions and how they have impacted your life. It looks like you seeing how this has messed with or shifted your perspectives. It looks like you seeing how this has affected your body and health.

Most importantly, it looks like you deeply reflecting on why this is, and finding the source. It looks like you deconstructing - and most importantly, reconstructing - the reasons behind why this issue is in your life and how you will find healing. It looks like you accepting what has happened and making a decision to reconceptualize and move forward. It looks like you deciding how you want your life to play out into your future despite what has happened to you in the past.         

So, how do you save yourself? You need to see your thoughts as your new best friends (even the scary or uncomfortable ones!). You need to embrace, process and reconceptualize what has happened to you. To do this, I recommend using the Neurocycle mind management method I have developed and studied over the past three decades, which I discuss in detail in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle.    

The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power that I have developed and researched over the past three decades. It has 5 steps. The first step is to 1. gather awareness of how you feel mentally and physically and your perspective when you are dealing with your intrusive thoughts. The second step is to 2. reflect on how you feel. Why do you think you feel this way?  Then you 3. write down your reflections to help organize your thinking. The fourth step is to 4. recheck: think about what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you. What does it say about what happened to you? What is your “antidote”— how will you work through how your thoughts are affecting you? Look for clues in your writing, then start to reframe/reconceptualize the way you are thinking about what happened and how you can improve the situation. Lastly, do your 5. active reach. This is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you thought about in the previous step - that is, what you are going to do each day to give yourself the time and mental space needed to deal with what is bothering you and turn destructive thoughts into a constructive future. 

For more tips on managing intrusive thoughts and developing a “I can help myself deal with my mind” mindset, listen to my podcast (episode #550). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).         

This podcast is sponsored by: 

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Podcast Highlights

0:18 What your intrusive thoughts are trying to tell you 

2:30 Why you need to develop an“I can help myself deal with my mind” mindset 

4:08, 7:38, 21:20 How to make intrusive thoughts your best friends

8:30 Intrusive thoughts give you information about yourself 

12:00 Deconstructing & reconstructing intrusive thoughts 

16:57 You can save yourself!

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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