Posted by fxckfeelings on November 27, 2015Share This Post
Even for sane people, brains aren’t always totally cooperative, reliable things; most of us deal with unwanted thoughts and urges on a daily basis, like doubts about our looks or abilities or nagging impulses to do, say, or touch things that should remain left alone, at least in public. When those yearnings are extra persistent and painful, however, like our reader from earlier this week who couldn’t shake the urge to get pregnant, there are still ways to keep your brain in control. Here are five ways to keep unwanted thoughts from overstaying their welcome.
1. Snap Out of It (Literally)
As silly as it sounds, it does help to put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you have the unwanted thought. It turns out that the distraction helps to stop a thought from turning into a rumination. If it helps to follow up this proverbial smack on the nose with a newspaper with a treat, all the better.
2. Acknowledge and Answer
Instead of taking the thought at face value and letting it get you down, respond to it by reminding yourself that you’ve made the best compromise possible, tough decisions are often painful, and you’re proud of your ability to put up with pain. If the voice isn’t going to shut up, it’s going to be told that it’s wrong.
3. Utilize Unassuming Obsessions
Since it’s fairly difficult to pull up distracting positive thoughts when you’re in the throws of heavy, nagging obsessions, try instead to distract yourself with unimportant, public ruminations, like how it’s unclear whether people watch Empire because they think it’s really good or delightfully idiotic, or why the Red Sox fired the one announcer who could make a horrible season watchable.
4. Stand up to Shame
Negative thoughts flourish with shame and secrecy—if you’re too ashamed of them to get talk about them or get help, they’ll get the run of your head—so tell those close to you that you suffer from ruminations and appreciate distraction. If you don’t want to wear the rubberband, you can ask them to step on your toe or pinch your tush if you ever, ever start to share the subject of your ruminations.
5. Seek Support
Spend time with other people who suffer from ruminations (an OCD clinic should know where you can find a support group). You’ll find many nice, otherwise sane people who experience painful, intrusive thoughts and still find ways to go on with their lives. They may also have more good hints about how to ignore the thoughts and prevent their painfulness from driving you to feel like a failure. Either way, they can help you to feel less alone, more in control, and thinking more positively about the problem in general, even if you can’t stop thinking about other things.
More advice from Dr. Lastname