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What If I do it?

1st February 2012

Obsessive thoughts part 2

Have you ever stood at the edge of a cliff, bridge or high building and had the alarming thought about jumping off?

In fact some people are so scared of these thoughts that they avoid any situation which could result in them being tempted to jump and end their lives.

Another common one is being in a kitchen with sharp knives or boiling water and the thought emerges which shows themselves being cut or burning themselves.  Of course if they try to suppress those images the thought just gets stronger which is interpreted to mean they must want to do it. The reality is…of course you don’t and you won’t.  If you are still not convinced then please get help so you can deal with that fear directly.

Common scary thoughts include:

Self harm

Harming others through direct or indirect action

Hurting babies or children directly or indirectly

Sex with children

Losing control

Dramatic death thoughts

All of the above thoughts are normal

The mind is very good at showing you what you don’t want to happen and your emotional response will determine if the thought is shown again.  For example people are scared of thoughts of sex or hurting children, if the thought produces fear of doing that then trying to make the thought go away can result in the thought gaining strength.  If the thought produces mainly disgust then the thought tends to not be repeated.  Fear tells your mind that what you were thinking must have been very important and will keep it lingering and repeating until it becomes unimportant.

If you are bored of the thought it also isn’t repeated.  Hence why giving the thought your full attention reduces its power, just like the exercise below which if you have not done, you could give it a try.


Dealing with the thought experiment:


Picture for me a thought which may feel obsessive or you don’t like much when it appears.

Instead of trying to get rid of the thought, give it your full attention for as long as you can until your mind wanders to something else.

As soon as it has wandered to something else go back to the original thought and repeat.

Your mind hates focusing on boring stuff including thoughts which are repetitive.

You should notice that your attention span gets shorter on the obsessive thought as your mind literally starts to get bored of it.  (we only have around 30 seconds of attention span).

Keep repeating until the thought no longer can be sustained or creates weaker or no emotional responses.


Obsessive thinking can be treated by working with the thoughts and working out if there are other issues and anxiety problems which need addressing.  Therapy is great at addressing these problems and relieving the stress surrounding obsessive thinking. 


If you have obsessive thoughts then it may be worth checking out these tips below to reduce the pressure on the limbic system which is responsible for your anxiety levels.  It is also worth seeing a therapist to help you of there are any root issues that need addressing.


1.    Drop the caffeine as it’s the last thing your mind needs, it kicks in the survival mode which you are suffering from already.

2.    Let go of watching the news and reading newspapers, as they are designed to literally piss you off.

3.    Learn to relax thought mindfulness, meditation even if for just a few minutes at a time.  This really works.

4.    Get help learning to vent your anger, frustration in safe and productive ways (future article coming on this)

5.    Get help letting go of guilt from the past which also adds pressure to your limbic system.

6.    No point trying to be calmer if you are watching programs which get your heart racing through fear and tension.

7.    Exercise is a life saver for many with anxiety, I cannot express enough how this really helps the mind become calmer and more relaxed.

8.    Get therapy help for any rituals or OCD behaviour associated with obsessive thoughts.

9.    Connect with friends more socially for support and good times

10. Let go of bad habits and work to change habits which hold you back and affect your mental health.  Smoking, drugs, wrong crowd, over working, drinking too much, mindless television etc.



Next blog will be about how to vent and release pressure from within, I find this a vital tool to use when dealing with irrational emotions.  As you know suppression doesn’t work so confronting the thoughts and feelings by working them out with a