Have you ever found yourself so wound up you simply cannot untangle what it is that is bothering you the most? Entangled thoughts make you feel like you can’t think clearly because you have an inner dialogue going on that you have created about some aggressive, relationship-ruining, sexual, logic-defying, bewildering, even violent content running through your mind. You may experience a healthy dose of guilt and shame alongside that content, because you wonder how on earth you can be a good or sane person and think this way.
Or maybe you have gotten involved with the intrusive nature of certain sounds, physical sensations (often wondering if you are now harboring some new dreaded disease or chronic physical ailment), or simply some other unidentified through intrusion. You are now focused on it, and deeply entangled with how to rid yourself of the thoughts and feelings, maybe arguing back with them.
That approach just keeps these types of thoughts fueled and roaring, like a good campfire onto which you just tossed some lovely dry kindling.
That is how OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) thoughts operate.
Entangled Thoughts Add Fuel to the Fire
What you have done is to privilege your thoughts, or give them more importance than they deserve, by answering them back or debating them or your determination to stop them. Maybe you ask others repeatedly for reassurance about those thoughts. Each time you do this, you deepen your anxiety habit. Check out some of the most frequent things we tell ourselves here. Getting involved with your OCD thoughts only makes them stronger. If you were Popeye, you just swallowed a can of spinach.
Getting entangled adds fuel to the fire, because neither thoughts nor feelings are facts.
Here’s an example. You were in a staff meeting at work and someone makes a fleeting comment about how your team blew it last month. It so happens the comment was about an area you are involved in. So you begin to wonder if the comment was directed at you, or was an indirect reference to work you produced, or perhaps was really a veiled barb of criticism aimed at you specifically. You chew on that for two days, until you finally you either blow up (likely inappropriately at the wrong person) or worse, you internalize the remark and let it damage your self esteem. That often results in poor future performance, or continues to distort how you view colleagues.
Would you like to learn a better way to manage these unwanted intrusive thoughts? There really is one. If you want to learn how to tame your anxiety, how to manage it on a lasting basis, shoot me an email, or go to my contact page. I am here in your neighborhood and ready to help.
P.S. This cool picture was taken by my talented friend Lori Harris, who gave me permission to use it ages ago. I knew the right post was waiting for it!