Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts

For many people who experience panic attacks and anxiety on a regular basis, intrusive thoughts become a part of day-to-day life.

What if I get a panic attack in the middle of the grocery store?

Why am I worrying about such strange things?

What if I lose control of mind?

Intrusive thoughts can come and go all day long at the most random moments of the day and take their toll on your stress levels. You might have difficulty concentrating, and react with a jolt every time you think a worrying intrusive thought. Just remember that you are not losing your mind and the thoughts will stop when your anxiety level reduces.

I’ve identified several strategies for overcoming intrusive thoughts in my book Panic Away.

To help remove intrusive thoughts you need to learn how to disarm them by not reacting.

Look at it this way.

When you think some of these thoughts you might feel a bodily reaction like a jolt of fear. What you need to learn is to short circuit the emotional reaction to the thoughts.

Begin by accepting that the thoughts are not the real you, they are the product of an over active imagination mixed with anxiety.

When they arrive, imagine them like clouds passing overhead. Watch them float by but do not react to them emotionally.  Remain detached from the thought. These thoughts are not you and do not represent the real you.

Say to yourself, “I am observing this thought, I’m not going to get upset, anxious or even worry about it. It will pass…”

The more often you do this, the less reactive you will become to the thoughts. These thoughts are powered by your reaction to them, the more you react the more they reappear. If you learn to not react, the intrusive thoughts will simply fade away because you are no longer reacting emotionally to them.

Give it a go!

Barry Joe McDonagh

3 replies on “Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts

  • Danielle

    It was so helpful to read the part about the thoughts not being who you are. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Mike

    When i have these anxious/intrusive thoughts i always using the “so what”, “so be it” and always reminding myself that these thoughts are not true. sometimes i laughed about because i know its not true

    Am i doing the right approach?
    Sorry for my bad english…

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