Two Powerful Phrases For Handling Intrusive Thoughts

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Hello Lovelies!

I’m sure if you read my last post, you will be familiar with the guided meditation I mentioned about a octopus and the bubble. Today I wanted to teach you two very simple but very powerful phrases which can also help you disempower those painful thoughts.

One of the hardest things with intrusive thoughts is being able to ignore them. Once they enter our minds and begin to stress us out, there is no way to detach from them, no way to forget about them. There is no way out until our brains decide to let go.

But what if I told you that there are some simple phrases that you can use to stop your brain before it really starts to take hold with these anxious thoughts? What if I told you that a few simple words can make it that much easier to disengage?

The Lizard Brain

The amygdala, or the “lizard brain”, is responsible for reactions such as anxiety. In the rational brain, the frontal lobe works correctly and the anxious response produced by the amygdala is quickly quelled. However, when the frontal lobe doesn’t respond correctly (such as could be the case with a brain injury or or neurological condition) or the amygdala is overactive (prolonged stress, heriditary or environmental factors), anxiety can ensue. Through retraining our brain, sometimes we are able to manage these symptoms.

Retrain Your Brain: The Power Of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

When I entered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions in 2014, I was sure that they wouldn’t work for me. There was no way, none, that any of this would work for me. In my mind, these guys were trying to cure a would-be killer and soon and sure enough, they would discover it.

But they were right.

When I held a knife, I realised how not-scary I felt. It was just a knife, a cutting thing, for food. All of this fear had all been worked up in my head. The more I saw the knife, the more bored of it I became. That was the plan of therapy, not to make me not think these things, but to make me bored of thinking these things. Ie, I’d no longer react to it.

But sometimes that’s not always possible. Sometimes your brain throws you a curveball and makes you worry when you wouldn’t normally fear. In those situations, there are a couple of phrases that you can use.

Phrase 1: So What?

When you challenge a thought with “so what?”, you are asking it what it means, what importance does it have? For example, if, like me, you’ve been on a busy train platform and you’ve suddenly thought “what if I jump in front of the train right now?”, the natural reaction would be to worry. But what if, instead of worrying, we ask ourselves “so what?” , what does it mean? What logic can we gain from this thought?

The answer is simple: If we jump onto the track in front of a train, we are going to die.

Our thoughts do not reflect our true desires, they are our brains warning us of the potential dangers around us.

Being near the railway line does not necessarily indicate that you want to jump onto the track (unless you are suicidal, in which case please talk to someone), it just indicates that you know the tracks are not a safe place to be.

We can apply it to almost any situation:

What if she/he doesn’t love me?

Do you need another person to live, anyway? That’s codependency, my friend. Discover yourself, be yourself and love you first. Never, ever give anyone else power over you.

That interview was stressful, what if I don’t get the job?

So what? Maybe it wasn’t the best job for you anyway, maybe there is something much better out there waiting for you.

When you apply this logic to these irrational thoughts, sometimes they actually deserve to be laughed at. And believe me, at some point, you probably will laugh at the ridiculousness of it all!

Phase 2: I Don’t Know

One of the hardest things to accept in life is uncertainty. In an uncertain world, the one thing we all want is certainty and guarantee. We cling to the past, afraid of the future. We cling to what we know because we are frightened of what awaits us, but the truth is, we really don’t know, and we never will know until we try.

How did I know I could make clotted cream fudge? I didn’t. How did I know that I would find my strength after losing my Dad? I had to wait and see for myself.

When we accept that we don’t know, we give up the need for certainty and we embrace change. We welcome each day with open arms and a thirst for what’s new. You become curious about life and excited for each day. Instead of putting things into orderly boxes, you accept that sometimes things fit somewhere in between.

The  only way you’ll know, the only way you’ll ever have answers, is if you try.

How do you cope with intrusive thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,

Helen xx

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4 thoughts on “Two Powerful Phrases For Handling Intrusive Thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for this. As a sufferer of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, intrusive thoughts can threaten so many areas of my life – including my relationships (‘what if he leaves me’) and my university life (‘what if I fail’). They come so unexpectedly and make me feel so out of the present moment. The more I challenge them the harder they bounce back, so I now try to accept the thoughts and merely observe them without judgement. I just think ‘oh, I’m having this thought’ and suddenly it doesn’t seem so threatening xx

    1. You are more than welcome and I’m so glad that they help. Yes, fighting with them is definitely the worse thing that we can do but it takes strength also just to let them be, especially when they are often so invasive that the natural reaction is to try and fight them off. I often think of them a bit like weeds, sometimes the more you chop at them and try to fight them, the more they seem to spread xx

  2. They are so debilitating. They have often paralyzed me. I guess I shut down emotionally. The gradually emerge from my cave. Do I need someone? Possibly not. But having lost my wife of over 40 years and lived alone for four years I LOVE having someone (not just anyone though) in my life. Almost inside me. Not smothering, but present even when we are apart. I often have to try to think positive thoughts. I’m going through a negative stage just now.
    Thanks for the wisdom.
    Xxx
    Rex

    1. You’re more than welcome Rex, anything I can do, just shout. My mother lost her husband (my father) of 32 years last year, so I can understand somewhat of what you’re going through. She’s already talking about dating and casual relationships, the little minx!
      Helen xx

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