Do you ever realize that in a state of boredom, fatigue or anxious overwhelm your mind feels more penetrable to intrusive thoughts? Often, we only realize this when the thought has enough time to embed and trigger intense negative emotions, such as fear, powerlessness, sadness, regret, shame, anger.
Here’s a not so secret, secret. We do not have control of, nor are we defined by, the initial presence of these intrusive thoughts. We DO, however, have the ability to disempower them and redirect to something more positive or grounding. We are defined by what we do in response to these intrusions and how we express their piggy-backed emotions. For many, the emotional consequence of allowing intrusive thoughts to fester grows more intensely and can lead to mood disorders, physical health decline, displacement of negative emotion onto our relationship partners and unnecessary energy drain.
The 3 H’s
- Is it Healthy?
- Is it Helpful to me?
- Is it conducive to my Happiness?
If you respond No to all 3 questions, I encourage you to rid yourself of its negative energy. You do not have to adopt it as your own just because it is in your mind. To disempower an intrusive thought:
- Acknowledge what the thought is. Avoiding its presence only empowers it. If I tell NOT to think of purple elephants, what will you likely think of for the entire rest of the day?
- Shake it off. No, really. Engaging in a visceral shake of the body or head while imagining the thought spilling out of your ears makes the task a bit more concrete and increases efficacy of the attempted expulsion.
- Intentionally redirect to something that DOES have a constructive quality to it. If you have nothing in mind, look around at the environment around you and get creative. Curiosity about the world has infinite possibilities of thought.
Dr. Stephanie P. Bathurst, Ph.D., LCMFT, CKCT, CPLC
Board Certified Clinical Sexologist & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist