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Do Your Thoughts Scare You? You May Have Intrusive Thoughts

July 4, 2024 Mahevash Shaikh

Do your thoughts scare you? Have you ever been busy doing something when a disturbing thought suddenly occurred to you and left you shocked? Does this happen frequently? Don't worry, you are not losing your mind. Instead, the thoughts that scare you are probably intrusive thoughts. 

What Are Thoughts that Scare You -- Intrusive Thoughts?

According to Healthline, thoughts that scare you, or intrusive thoughts, are defined as.

"Intrusive thoughts are unexpected images or thoughts that seem to pop into your head. They're often strange or distressing. But these thoughts happen to almost everyone from time to time."1

If Your Thoughts Scare You, Here Are the Signs They May Be Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts that scare you are common; almost everyone I know experiences them from time to time. Harvard Health lists three signs to help you identify intrusive thoughts. 

"An intrusive thought is usually very different from your typical thoughts. If a thought is disturbing and it's something you want to push out of your mind, it might be an intrusive thought. Intrusive thoughts are often repetitive and won't go away."2

One of my most frequent intrusive thoughts is that I am going to physically hurt a loved one in a cold, calculating manner. This thought always scares me because I am not someone who believes in hurting anybody on purpose.  

Tips for Managing Thoughts that Scare You

In my experience, intrusive thoughts cannot be eliminated. The more you try to get rid of them, the more frequently they will occur. That said, they can be managed. Here are my tips for managing thoughts that scare you. 

  1. Accept them -- Instead of judging yourself or trying to make an intrusive thought disappear, simply accept its existence. Doing this will make it easier to overcome the shock factor of intrusive thoughts. 
  2. Practice mindfulness -- Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and grounding techniques can help you stay in the present moment and reduce the impact of intrusive thoughts. 
  3. Challenge your thoughts -- If your intrusive thoughts are still causing you distress, challenge them with logic. When one comes into your mind, ask yourself if it is rooted in reality. You will usually find that it is purely irrational. 
  4. Distract yourself -- If you cannot challenge a thought that scares you, divert your attention by engaging in healthy distractions like exercising and spending time with loved ones.
  5. Reduce your stress and anxiety levels -- I have found that a stressed and anxious mind attracts intrusive thoughts like moths to a flame. Therefore, to decrease their frequency, work on limiting your stress and anxiety levels

Intrusive thoughts can scare you and be hard to deal with, so I hope it will comfort you to know that you are not the only one experiencing them. However, if they are overwhelming you and affecting the quality of your life, it's best to seek professional help. 

Sources

  1. Holland, K. (2022, May 20). Intrusive thoughts: why we have them and how to stop them. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/intrusive-thoughts

  2. Bilodeau, K. (2024, March 26). Managing intrusive thoughts. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/managing-intrusive-thoughts

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2024, July 4). Do Your Thoughts Scare You? You May Have Intrusive Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2024/7/do-your-thoughts-scare-you-you-may-have-intrusive-thoughts



Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

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