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How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts - Q&A with Annie!

When you’re working to heal from anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, there are often lots of unknowns. You might constantly have thoughts that sound like…what if I never get better? What if I get worse? What if things always look how they do right now? And so on. 

And these thoughts can often become very intrusive. When we hear the term ‘intrusive thought’, we often immediately jump to OCD. But many of these thoughts are simply caused by the fears that come along with recovering from panic disorder and agoraphobia. In this podcast episode, we’ll talk about the difference between the two, and what we can do about intrusive or uncomfortable thoughts.

Before we get started, let’s talk about what an intrusive thought is! Simply put, intrusive thoughts are thoughts that are often out of character, distressing, or disturbing. And often, they might make you think… I shouldn't be having this thought! Am I going crazy? But it’s important to remember that intrusive thoughts are just thoughts, and they aren’t special unless we make them special! 

How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts - Q&A with Annie!

Why Do We Get Intrusive Thoughts?

I often get asked why we get intrusive thoughts, and the answer is pretty simple… because we’re human! Everyone gets intrusive thoughts from time to time, and most often they aren’t associated with a mental health disorder. The issue with intrusive thoughts arises when we give them power and try to solve them. You might notice intrusive thoughts popping up much more often when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. 

How Do We Navigate Intrusive Thoughts?

If you’ve struggled with intrusive thoughts for any amount of time, you’ve likely wondered how you can stop intrusive thoughts! The truth is that we can’t get rid of intrusive thoughts, but we can take healthy action and change our response to them so that they pop up a heck of a lot less! If you’re struggling with an intrusive thought, do your best to slow things down and let yourself have the thought without attaching a story to it.

These are 3 ways that people often go wrong with intrusive thoughts:

  1. Trying to think their way out of having the thought

  2. Responding to the thought with criticism, or beating yourself up for having the thought

  3. Looking for all of the ways to make the thoughts go away but overlooking some of the most basic ways you can relieve the thoughts, stress, and overwhelm

Bonus tips for navigating intrusive thoughts 

If you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t say anything about you or who you are as a person! One of my favorite tips for navigating intrusive thoughts is to practice self-compassion. When we start responding to our thoughts and feelings with more compassion, it becomes much easier to work through our thoughts and emotions. 

Here are a few bonus tips for navigating intrusive thoughts…

  • Don’t try to force or convince yourself they’re not reflective of reality

  • Don’t try to replace the intrusive thought with a ‘good’ thought

  • Don’t try to get rid of the intrusive thought

And if you’re looking for more insight and wisdom on this topic, make sure to listen to the full Q&A episode with Annie! 

Shannon Jackson, Anxiety Coach and host of A Healthy Push Podcast





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