Obsessive thoughts limit life

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Robert Maurer


Obsessive thoughts limit life

Last update: June 28, 2017

Thoughts are an important element of our life, because they allow us to realize the way we feel and act. They help us reflect and make sense of our daily experiences. The problem arises when these thoughts become obsessive and limit our actions. Not everything we think helps us, in fact, thoughts often become toxic.

There are some thoughts that, instead of helping us, block us and produce feelings such as anxiety and exhaustion. For example, imagine a person who keeps thinking about whether or not he has closed the car door: he keeps thinking about it insistently, even though the door is closed. Learning to manage repetitive thoughts can be important in recovering emotional well-being.

Thinking too much is exhausting

We usually reflect on our concerns trying to find a solution to our problems. In this way, we discover new points of view that help us manage what happens to us more calmly. However, this natural process of internal reflection does not always go as we hope and, instead of making us see things more clearly, it clouds our judgment, causing us to enter a spiral of negative thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again.

Thoughts become intruders in our mind and, if we think about them too much, they end up becoming obsessions that limit our actions. This need to mull over what worries us can arise in any situation. For example, when we are working, when we shop or when we brush our teeth. Without realizing it, they can occupy our whole mind, also affecting our mood.

 What are obsessive thoughts?

Obsessive thoughts are repetitive, recurring and involuntary ideas usually focused on worries, fears or anxieties that prevent us from focusing all our attention on the present moment. Anxiety and stress are the main cause of these thoughts, which also affect our behaviors.

Imagine a person who cannot get it out of his head that he has an infection. He will do nothing but wash constantly and avoid certain places that he considers dirty. Negative thoughts they can also present themselves as mental images that are repeated several times without control. A sort of repetitive circle is created from which it is difficult to get out.

It is like being hit by a hurricane of thoughts that continually revolves around itself, with overwhelming force. This process can be so intense that it is addictive: the more we try to stop thinking, the more obsessive thoughts arise.

Is it normal to have these kinds of thoughts?

An intense anxiety disorder or a prolonged period of stress can cause invasive thoughts that temporarily interfere with our daily activities. Having negative thoughts that cause fear or doubt is common to all people and at certain times in their lives. Depending on how we relate to these thoughts, they will become obsessive.

A thought becomes pathological when we begin to believe what we think, without questioning it. For example, imagine a mother who thinks her child may be kidnapped. If the idea is discarded, it is an intrusive thought, because it is not given importance. While we can all have such thoughts, they are usually typical in people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Types of obsessive thoughts

People suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or simply those who are going through a period of intense anxiety can experience various types of obsessive thoughts. Here are examples of common obsessive thoughts in people with this type of disorder.

  • Worries of getting sickness, infections, or not feeling clean enough.
  • Need to organize everything in a specific way, obsession with order and symmetry.
  • Thoughts related to the fear of leaving the door open, the gas on, that thieves might break into the house and steal.
  • Sexual thoughts that have to do with aggression, violence, etc.
  • Fears and feelings that endanger the physical integrity of oneself or of others, related to being able to do or receive harm to others.

The consequences of obsessive thoughts

These thoughts feed each other and create negative consequences in people's lives. For example, if a man is obsessed with having to constantly check his work, it is likely that he will never be satisfied and, therefore, will always come home late because of his obsession with him.

Some solutions that are tried to be adopted or consequences caused by obsessive thoughts are:

  • Avoid doing something out of fear: when a situation causes us fear, we can avoid leaving the house, taking the car, touching objects that we consider dirty, etc. This limits our daily life and prevents us from living normally.
  • Repeatedly checking something to feel confident: this is a typical compulsion of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When we close the door of the house or car and verify 10 times that it is closed, we are putting into practice a compulsion that makes us calm in the moment, but which, in reality, does nothing but fuel anxiety and obsession.
  • Procrastinate the activities to be carried out: the thought “I'll do it in another time” can end up making it impossible for us to carry out our activities. For example, imagine you want to fix plants but are terrified of meeting a spider there. You are so obsessed that, in the end, you don't do this activity that you liked so much.
  • The need for everything to be perfect: perfection is the enemy of good and, for this reason, you could lose the sense of things in the attempt to obtain something impossible. For example, a person who becomes obsessed with work will miss important moments to live with his family, as he will only focus on his work obligations.

5 steps to free yourself from obsessive thoughts

Accept the obsessive thought instead of wanting to drive it away

Whenever you try to drive away the obsessive thoughts, you will only give them more strength, repeating themselves incessantly. Imagine being able to observe them in a detached way, as if they were cars crossing a road. That way, you won't cling to them through acceptance.

Put off thoughts

By putting your thoughts aside for a later time, you will fool the brain so that, in reality, the thought will lose intensity and vanish. A sentence you can say to yourself is the following: “I'll think about it later”.

Put limits on your obsessions

Don't let your obsessions control you, but get hold of them. To do this, every time you feel obsessed, say to yourself "Enough!". Out loud, so as to block the thought.

Plan your obsessions

Schedule your obsessive thoughts, for example, think about fear from four to five in the afternoon. In this way, you will keep the situation under control, instead of letting yourself be overwhelmed by negative thoughts.

Practice a relaxation technique

Practicing some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or Jakobson's progressive relaxation, when anxiety invades you, will help you neutralize obsessions.

Obsessive thoughts can interfere with your life, causing you to lose control of it. If you start accepting and questioning them, it will be easier to handle them. Remember that we are much more than our problems: if we learn to distance ourselves from them, we will be free from the chains and excessive worries that embitter our lives.

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