Obsessive thoughts and states are something that is almost impossible to imagine for a person who has never experienced them, and it is very difficult to crush someone who suffers from them. They can have different shapes and meanings, relate to completely different topics and aspects of life, but they have the same essence: they seize your mind, make you mentally return to the same thing over and over again, do not allow you to focus on other things, get pleasure from the current moment, and sometimes cause a meaningless repetition of the same actions.
There are a lot of examples, one of the most common is the thought that you did not turn off the tap, turn off the gas or close the window. From the outside, this may again seem strange, ridiculous and even ridiculous. But when you have to go around the whole apartment ten times before leaving the house, because the haunting voice continues to squeal that something has not been checked thoroughly enough – it is no time for laughter.
People who are in a relationship often have obsessive thoughts about betraying a partner. And they should not be confused with jealousy as a trait of character or pathological suspicion. Such thoughts revolve in the head without any reason or reason, they are irrational by nature, but due to the fact that they do not disappear, the relationship in a couple can deteriorate significantly.
A scientific view of the issue
If you often encounter such a problem and are used to thinking that “something is wrong” with you, then this is only part of the truth. Yes, indeed, obsessive thoughts of varying degrees of intensity are a problem, but it occurs quite often and even has its own name. In psychiatry, it is called “obsessive-compulsive disorder,” and you probably have heard this term more than once.
It means that in the head of a person the same information starts to scroll, and he comes up with some actions-rituals in order to get rid of it. Rituals do not appear in all cases; some people tolerate obsessive thoughts without developing saving algorithms for action. In the example above, gas not turned off and open windows as a ritual are checking these facts and, for example, trying to fix in memory the correct position of the levers on the gas stove.
In fact, rituals can be very different, and sometimes even logically unrelated to the obsessive thoughts themselves. A person can stack the numbers of all passing cars, shake off invisible dust particles, repeatedly spit over his left shoulder and knock on a tree, imagine some definite action destroying the object of obsessive thoughts, or repeat a code phrase that helps him calm down. Initially, this can happen involuntarily, and then it becomes a habit, and eventually turn into obsessive actions accompanying obsessive thoughts.
Where does all this come from?
So, having a little understood what obsessive thoughts are, let’s try to find out why they appear in principle. If this problem is familiar to you firsthand, then you can certainly conclude that there is no logic or common sense in such thoughts at all. If you drop your need for constant scrolling for a moment and try to look at the situation from the outside, then they are absolutely irrational.
The fact is that such thoughts are not based on real facts or objective reflections, but on emotions. And we are talking about deeply experienced emotions that play a big role in your life. It can be a feeling of guilt, doubt, self-doubt, long-term resentment, hidden fear – everything that can have a serious impact on your emotional state. Obsessive thoughts may also have a positive connotation, when, for example, a person who is striving for financial well-being is looking for all possible ways to achieve it. But this is not entirely obsessive-compulsive disorder, and you would hardly want to get rid of this state of affairs, therefore we will not talk about this in more detail.
So, constant unpleasant thoughts are a shell of your anxiety caused by some kind of strong emotion. All this, again, is not always worth taking literally. For example, obsessive thoughts about where your child is and what does when he is not with you can speak not about your fear for him (which is unconditional and natural and without obsessive states), but about fear of being a bad mother in the eyes of others.
The desire to check several times whether the window is closed may be caused not so much by the fear of robbery as by the horror that some stranger can encroach on your personal space. In other words, the same obsessive thoughts can have a lot of reasons, and the same emotion can cause completely different recurring states in different people.
Why do you need to get rid of obsessive thoughts?
As already noted, obsessive thoughts bother a lot more people than it might seem at first glance. And many simply resign themselves to the fact that in this respect their head is “not quite in order,” and continue to live with such a burden. However, intrusive thoughts must be fought for a number of undeniable reasons:
- If you don’t take on getting rid of them, then you yourself will not notice how they will become stronger and more powerful, and their number will increase. Unfortunately, really obsessive, stable states in most cases do not disappear themselves if you continue to feed them with your experiences and repetitive rituals. Moreover, having learned to throw out one emotion in this way, you may well begin to sort it out later with other emotional impulses.
- They torture you; take away your time and energy. How many really sensible thoughts could you think about while you are repeating the same meaningless information? How many cases could you do while you perform your meaningless and unnecessary rituals? Surely this time and these forces would not be superfluous in your life.
- Obsessive thoughts can influence self-esteem, relationships, self-realization and other important aspects of life. For example, with obsessive thoughts about the imperfections of your body, you will never learn to appreciate your beauty, with obsessive thoughts about your partner’s infidelity, you will not be able to build strong relationships, and so on. They are destructive and inevitably reduce the quality of life.
How to deal with this problem?
Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder depends on its severity. It is necessary to understand that it is common for all of us, to one degree or another, to conduct not too rational dialogues in our head. The only question is how often we do it, and how much it affects us. If this problem, in the literal sense of the word, already prevents you from living fully, then you need to treat it with serious methods by contacting a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. If you have disturbing obsessive thoughts have not yet reached such a degree of “arrogance”, then you can use the following tips:
- Learn to switch attention. Concentration on the subject of obsessive thoughts will not allow you to overcome them. To succeed, you must, on the contrary, stop thinking about what makes you feel like a “broken record”. Including, stop thinking about why these thoughts are irrational, and why you definitely need to get rid of them. At first, it can be quite difficult, but over time you will get better and better. When unwanted ideas again begin to emerge in your mind, try to perceive them as a background, and put something else to the fore. Do something useful, have interesting conversations, watch your favorite movies, and so on.
- Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Being closed from fears and offenses by obsessive thoughts, you are not engaged in a constructive solution to problems but are fenced off from them by a wall of meaningless phrases and rituals. Understand that in your life there will be exactly what you will bring to it, and nothing will change from spinning around ideas. You are afraid – fight your fear, take offense – find out relationships, do not believe in yourself – learn to see your positive aspects and use them.
- Do not engage in self-suggestion and abandon the idea of the firmness of your beliefs. Quite often, fears and the obsessive states they cause are associated with some kind of inner dogma that you are afraid to break. For example, be ashamed that occasionally feel hatred for a beloved person (which, by the way, is quite natural). You think that you can only say something clever, and you are afraid to open your mouth. To remove such annoying ideas, you must recognize that the world is not perfect; you are not perfect, other people are not perfect, and to make mistakes and experience negative emotions is more than normal.
- Provide your body with physical relaxation. During the repetition of obsessive thoughts, people most often are tense, their body is stiff, even small tremors in the limbs are possible. To get rid of such manifestations will help the famous Shavasana, or “death posture” – an element of yoga, involving the maximum relaxation of all muscles of the body.
- Do not go for tricks. To defeat repetitive states, you must abandon the search for hidden benefits in the words you repeat or the rituals performed. People quite often subconsciously hide obsessive thoughts and reluctance to figure out where the feeling of anxiety came from and what real actions need to be taken to cope with it. Instead, they “coax” their minds with senseless gibberish, they say, “I did everything I could.” You understand that the alarm will not get anywhere from this – so do not try to cure it with a plantain.
If you take seriously the implementation of all these rules, then with time obsessive thoughts will torment you less, their intensity will decrease, and one fine day you will notice that they have ceased to be your eternal companion. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that it will not be possible to solve the problem instantly – it is just necessary to gradually reduce the force of repeated states to a minimum so that as a result they can be defeated.