Obsessive thoughts can really plague your mind. It’s those times when you can’t stop thinking about something. It encompasses your life and can veer into unhealthy territory if left unchecked.
I’m currently dealing with obsessive thinking at the moment. My anxiety makes things harder than the average person because it likes to remind me that I’m having those obsessive thoughts. It makes it so that even when I’m trying to push those obsessive thoughts aside, my anxiety grabs hold of it and won’t let go.
Stopping obsessive thinking is a tough thing to do. It involves a lot of internal thinking and personal development.
How to Stop Obsessive Thoughts
When you have these thoughts that won’t go away, it can really feel like you’re trapped within your own mind. You’re at the mercy of your mind and anxiety that’s either causing or being caused by the obsessive thoughts.
It’s like telling someone not to think about a pink elephant. They’re going to be thinking about a pink elephant.
There are some ways you can help calm these thoughts, relax the anxiety running through your head, and have you armed for the next time this happens.
Recognize the Thoughts
Before you can really do anything, you have to recognize these thoughts are there and identify them. I definitely recognize the obsessive thoughts I’m having right now. I’m anxious about receiving a text back from a friend. We hadn’t had the best communication lately and I’m worried about his health in this current global situation.
I recognize that they’re there, and I recognize that they’re causing me to do things like love bombing and messaging them all the time. When my anxiety takes control of me, it really takes control. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve done some damage to this relationship because of all that’s been going on. I can only hope that’s just the anxiety talking.
Once you have these things recognized, the best thing to do is write them down. There’s something quite grounding about writing everything out. It might just be because I’m a writer, but having it concrete instead of just inside your head can be a powerful image.
Analyze the Thoughts
Once you’ve written out your thoughts, try to back track to see what the causes of the thoughts are.
I’m anxious about my friend texting me back.
Because I’m worried about his physical and emotional health. I’m also anxious that they’re mad at me
Because I keep texting and messaging them when they want to be alone.
Because I want them to know they are loved and I care for them.
Keep doing this until you get to the root of your problems. It might take you a while, and you might even try to lie to yourself about the answers. I can see myself lying to myself about the real reasons for things, it’s something my anxiety has me do a lot. You need to make sure you get to the real root of the problem.
Accept the Thoughts
After you’ve recognized you have these thoughts, you have to accept that they’re there. They’re just thoughts, nothing more.
“The resulting effort to avoid, suppress, or escape these thoughts unwittingly serves to amplify and strengthen them, making them worse and worse,” advise Hyman and Cherry. “Acceptance, rather than control and avoidance, is the key. By ‘acceptance,’ we don’t mean giving up or resigning,” but rather as their client said, “When I let the thoughts be, they let me be.” [x]
When accepting these thoughts, you have to be realistic in what you do and do not have control over. For my experience, I don’t have control over what my friend does. I can’t control when and where they will text me back, but I can control my reaction to it.
I can stop texting them all the time, I can maybe even take a break from social media for a while, so I don’t have to see them if they pop up on my feeds. I can go for a walk to clear my head. There are endless possibilities.
Related: How Self Care Will Save Your Life
Focus on Right Now
If you can’t do anything about the reason for the thoughts, focus on what you can, the right now. I can’t do anything about my friend texting me back and texting them more isn’t going to work, so I should focus on the right now.
What am I doing right now?
Currently I’m researching and writing this blog post. It’s what’s helped me take my mind off things for a while, even though I’m actively writing about it.
What are you supposed to be doing right now that your obsessive thoughts are preventing you from doing?
Are you at work? Should you be studying? Are you trying to fall asleep?
Whatever it is, focus on what you’re supposed to be doing, not the thoughts in your head.
Do Something Else
If all else fails, do something else. Changing up what you’re doing changes what you’re thinking about. It’s something new to do.
You should probably make sure you’re doing something that requires you to think like a puzzle game or having a conversation, not scrolling through social media or watching TV. Those are mindless activities where your mind has room to wander.
It could also be as simple as putting on music in the background so your mind can focus on that instead of the thoughts. There are plenty of soft, lo-fi playlists on the internet that can help you with that.
I prefer a YouTube Let’s Play running in the background instead of music, so just having that something else to listen to helps.
Change the Obsession
I know this is harder said than done. Changing an obsession is a lot more complicated to do when you want to do it and much easier when you’re not bothering about it.
For me, I’m focusing on my blog right now, and I can focus more on it once I get home from work. I tend to obsess a little over the statistics, so getting that obsession going instead of worrying about my friend responding to my texts is my best bet.
Once again, my blog has saved me from bad habits and bad coping mechanisms.
This may be harder for you to do, depending on what’s going on in your life. You can use some of the more mundane things in your life to find other things to hone in on.
It could be anything from beating a workout best, challenging yourself to answer a certain amount of emails in an allotted time, to taking a break by playing a game and trying to beat your high score.
This is only for those of you who have prescribed medication for things like anxiety attacks. When my obsession starts interfere with my life by preventing me from working properly, I know it’s time to calm myself down.
I am currently prescribed a medication for anxiety attacks, which is what usually accompanies my obsessive thoughts. I can choose to either take the medication or use CBD products I have on hand.
I was recommended CBD products by my therapist and it’s been the best thing I’ve added to my mental health routine. I use it nightly to help fall asleep and when I have any issues like this. I try to use CBD instead of my prescribed medication when I can because the prescribed medication I have has the ability to become addictive if you take it too often.
And my anxiety has been on high alert recently and I only have some idea as to why. So I’ve been relying on CBD products instead.
Obsessive thoughts can plague your mind, but if you have the tools to combat them you have chance to keep them at bay. If you use some or all of these tips, hopefully you will be able calm your obsessive thoughts and any added anxiety it brings.
Have you ever had obsessive thoughts before? What did you do to help yourself through it? Let me know in the comments!
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