What To Do With Your Intrusive Thoughts

What To Do With Your Intrusive Thoughts


Intrusive thoughts can be a troubling experience for many individuals, especially if they are repetitive, intense, or distressing in nature. These thoughts can be about anything, including violence, sex, or harm, and can cause persistent anxiety, shame, or guilt. If you find yourself struggling with intrusive thoughts, you are not alone. Many people experience them, and there are effective ways to manage them. In this blog post, we will discuss what intrusive thoughts are, why they happen, and what you can do to cope with them.


1. Understanding Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are intrusive because they pop up in your mind without your control. They can be unwelcome or unpleasant, but that doesn't mean they are a reflection of your true self. Intrusive thoughts are common in individuals with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health disorders. They may also occur in people who are going through a life transition, stress, or trauma. Knowing that intrusive thoughts are a normal response to certain situations can help reduce your anxiety about them.

2. Recognizing Your Triggers

The next step in managing intrusive thoughts is to identify your triggers. A trigger is a situation, thought, or feeling that sets off your intrusive thoughts. For example, if you have a fear of germs, seeing a person sneeze can trigger your intrusive thoughts about contamination. Keep a journal to record your thoughts and your triggers. It will help you identify patterns, understand your triggers, and prepare a coping plan.

3. Coping Strategies

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to cope with intrusive thoughts. Everyone has their own triggers, patterns, and coping mechanisms. However, there are some strategies that can help you manage your thoughts, such as mindfulness, exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or medication. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Exposure therapy is about confronting your fears to reduce anxiety. CBT helps you challenge and reframe negative thoughts. Medication may be prescribed if your intrusive thoughts are severe or causing significant distress.

4. Building Support

Coping with intrusive thoughts can be a lonely journey, but you don't have to do it alone. Building a support system of family, friends, therapists, or support groups can help you feel connected, validated, and heard. Sharing your thoughts with someone you trust, who will not judge you or minimize your experience, can be a relief. In therapy, you can learn tools and skills to manage your thoughts, reduce anxiety, and improve your quality of life.

5. Remembering You Are Not Alone

The most important message to remember when coping with intrusive thoughts is that you are not alone. Millions of people struggle with unwanted, intrusive thoughts, and many have learned to manage them successfully. It takes time, patience, and practice, but with the right support, tools, and mindset, you too can overcome your intrusive thoughts.



Intrusive thoughts can be a challenging experience, but they don't have to control your life. By understanding what they are, recognizing your triggers, developing coping strategies, building support, and remembering that you are not alone, you can learn to manage your thoughts, reduce anxiety, and improve your well-being. If you are ready to seek support, there are counselors in Richmond, VA, who can help. Contact Nadia Dhillon Counseling today to schedule an appointment.

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