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Navigating Intrusive Thoughts Through Self-Compassion

An aspect of mental health that is often not talked about is intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are those unwelcome and often very sudden thoughts that can cause us lots of discomfort and distress. These thoughts can be repetitive and are usually quite different from the thoughts you normally have. The more we try to push away or avoid intrusive thoughts the more they can get louder and more frequent. Intrusive thoughts can be so difficult to experience and can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, fear, dread and many others.


I can remember when I first noticed my intrusive thoughts many years ago I felt scared and confused. I didn't want to tell anyone about them as I feared others would see me differently. Often intrusive thoughts can urge us to isolate when connecting with others could provide great support and comfort.


One way to begin approaching intrusive thoughts is through self-compassion. This could include acknowledging how hard it is to live with intrusive thoughts. Or, it could be validating that many people experience intrusive thoughts and you're not alone. Self-compassion could also look like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket if you're feeling overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts.


You don't have to go through intrusive thoughts alone. It can be very helpful to talk with a professional to help you process and navigate your experience of intrusive thoughts. Also, if you're looking for some resources on intrusive thoughts, here are a few:


  • The Anxious Thoughts Workbook: Skills to Overcome the Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts that Drive Anxiety, Obsesisons & Depression

  • The Intrusive Thoughts Toolkit: Quick Relief for Obsessive, Unwanted, or Disturbing Thoughts


Resources:

Bilodeau, K. (2021, October 1). Managing intrusive thoughts. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/managing-intrusive-thoughts#:~:text=If%20a%20thought%20is%20disturbing,%2C%22%20says%20Dr.%20Williams.




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