The list of things that give you happiness can be as long as you want. However, one thing that surpasses all of them is your mental health. If you are not satisfied with your current stream of thoughts and how it is affecting your life, nothing else will make up for it. Sometimes you might realize that a thought simply “gets stuck” in your head without any rational logic or reasoning. No matter what you do, you find yourself unable to shake that thought out of your head. These are called “obsessive thoughts”.
In psychology, we define obsessive thoughts as the inability to gain control over recurrent thoughts and images, that are distressing. And once this cycle starts, it feels impossible to get yourself out of the loop.
Throughout my life, I have been prone to obsessive thoughts more than I care to admit. I either find myself ruminating, feeling anxious about my future, or trying to shake off a statement that has simply resided itself in my mind for no apparent reason.
There are a few action plans I keep handy, in case I fall into the trap again.
- Take Action. Instead of stewing in your thoughts, get your mind and body active. Engaging yourself in a stimulating activity will help you break the loop temporarily.
- Exposure and response prevention technique (ERP). Sit with your obsessive thought and the feeling it tags along without the need to do anything about it. You will see that after a point of time the thought will lose its power. This technique, although, requires a therapist or a counselor.
- Engage in Mindfulness and Meditation. Be aware you are of your anxious thoughts and emotions, without feeling the urge to act upon them. The more detachment you can allow, the easier it will be for you to let go of the obsessive thought. Don’t analyze the thoughts or try getting into the root cause of it.
- Have a strong support system. This goes without saying, but having loved ones around who with whom you can share your distressing thoughts will be cathartic for you.
Experiencing obsessive thoughts can significantly hamper the quality of your life. But do not be hard on yourself. All you can do is apply a healthy approach to make your mind and emotions more resilient. Acceptance is the key. Accept you can relapse even after recovering from an obsessive thought. And that is perfectly okay.
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