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Intrusive Thoughts - Why Do We Have Them?

Why do we have intrusive thoughts, you ask?


Is it surprising that some of us deal with intrusive thoughts that can interfere with our daily lives if we have so many ideas per day, the majority of which are negative? Most likely not. Due to the human instinct of fight or flight and the need for survival, the brain is unfortunately hardwired to think negatively. The brain frequently gets left behind as settings and people change. Any mental health disorder, including intrusive thoughts, requires a fundamental understanding of how and why our brain processes thoughts.

Thoughts that are intrusive might be in any shape, but they typically arise from worries for oneself or a loved one.


What causes intrusive thoughts in us?


Since our brains are more naturally wired to think negatively, intrusive thoughts are unavoidable. But why do they remain close to select individuals while allowing others to come and go? There is no definitive answer to this, but a decent interpretation would be that it depends on how you react to the first idea, which can determine whether the concept continues or fades. How some can let them to come and go while others cling to them.


Examples of unwanted intrusive thoughts that can cause distress:

  • Pushing someone in front of a train or jumping in front of a train yourself

  • Questioning your relationship

  • Shouting out unpleasant comments in public

  • Thoughts about suicide

Intrusive thoughts can be broken into five different categories:

  • Violent thoughts: hurting oneself or others or causing harm.

  • Sexual thoughts: engaging in sexual activities that are unwanted or inappropriate.

  • Blasphemous thoughts: going against religious or moral beliefs.

  • Harm-related thoughts: getting sick or being in a dangerous situation.

  • Self-doubt thoughts: thoughts that you are not good enough or have made a mistake.

How can you stop unwanted thoughts?


There are a range of ways to free your mind of intrusive thoughts ranging from not supressing the thought, recognising the difference between thought and reality, identifying the triggers, implementing a positive change into your daily routine and CBT.


CBT is a well-known and effective method for regulating and detecting unfavourable thought patterns and creating new, more constructive ones, It is offered at Ambimind and more details can be obtained by using our contact page.

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