How to Make Intrusive Thoughts Work for You, Not Against You
In this podcast (episode #424) and blog, I talk about managing intrusive thoughts. This podcast is part 6 of my series on the different parts of the mind and brain.
As mentioned in my previous podcasts on this topic, The Difference Between the Nonconscious, Subconscious & Conscious Mind (part 1), How to Tap Into the Nonconscious Mind to Unwire Trauma & Toxic Thinking Habits (part 2), How to Listen to & Learn from Your Mental & Physical Warning Signals (part 3), The Difference Between Thoughts & Memories (part 4), and What is the Mind? (part 5), when you consciously engage the nonconscious mind through deliberate, intentional, strategic, and proactive deep thinking, you draw your thoughts, with their embedded memories, through the subconscious mind and into the conscious mind. When these thoughts arrive in the conscious mind, they’re in a malleable state, which means you can change them and reconceptualize them—you can change the way they impact your life.
But what about intrusive thoughts? Can they be reconceptualized?
Intrusive thinking is can be defined as uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts that we feel unable to resist. This kind of thinking is often a way of coping with an underlying, unresolved issue. It’s not always the most effective or sustainable way to deal with pain or trauma, but it’s a coping mechanism—a type of distraction you use to try to keep the source of your pain bearable, at least in the short term.
This may come as a surprise, but intrusive thoughts are not necessarily bad. Yes, they tend to contain information that is upsetting, but they also contain information that you can use to learn more about what is going on in your nonconscious mind to improve your mental health.
The truth is most people battle with intrusive thoughts, and, yes, they can be scary and stressful. But what if you looked at these thoughts in a different light? Intrusive thoughts are windows that can help you find areas in your life that are problematic so you can change them and increase your sense of peace. They are warning signals that point to things that need addressing so they do not become bigger issues that disrupt your life and affect your mental wellbeing.
Of course, if you are constantly trapped in a web of intrusive thinking, it can become a toxic mindset. As I have said before on this podcast, whatever you think about the most grows because you give it energy, which, in turn, can impact your ability to think and your overall health.
But, if you become aware of what you are thinking and learn how to manage your intrusive thoughts, you can change the way you see your life! These thoughts can become a vital source of information that helps you transform your mental health for the better, because it is only when you are aware of something that you can change it through mind management.
To do this, I recommend doing a Neurocycle, the scientific mind-management process I have developed and researched over the past three decades and discuss in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, my app Neurocycle, and in my latest clinical trials. These steps can help you learn how to reconceptualize your thinking, i.e. changing the way your thought tree and its memories look in the brain:
GATHER awareness of your thoughts for a few moments. What is coming into your head? What do you feel physically and mentally? What are the warning signals you are experiencing?
Then, REFLECT on why you are having these feelings. Ask, answer and discuss with yourself. How are these thoughts impacting you? Why do you think they are affecting you?
After this step, WRITE down what you reflected on. This will help you organize your thinking.
Then, RECHECK. Look for triggers, thought patterns and “antidotes” (for example, how you would like to respond in the future and how you would like the intrusive thinking to end).
Lastly, practice your ACTIVE REACH. Practice using the thought “antidote” you came up with in the recheck step to deal with the trigger that led to your intrusive thoughts.
For more on intrusive thoughts, listen to my podcast (episode #424), and check out my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and app Neurocycle. 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!).
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2:40 We all battle with intrusive thoughts
3:10, 5:48 How to change the way you look at intrusive thoughts
6:00 What intrusive thoughts are
7:10 When you are aware of something, you can change it!
8:00, 11:47 How to use mind management to deal with intrusive thoughts
16:35 How intrusive thoughts can become your best friend!
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.