How often do you dump your spam? If I asked you how often you get spam, I bet there would be a different answer. I could go to my spam folder daily and see dozens of useless offers, from site SEO “experts” to weirdo names like “instrut” or “esiff”, and many foreign language offers to do who knows what. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I never look at the content.
Not looking at the content is a normal behavior for those who receive a lot of spam emails. But what about those of you who receive lots of unwanted spammy thoughts, intrusive thoughts that make you cringe, or ones where you genuinely fear that you might carry out some heinous deed? Frequent, frightening, obsessive, or disturbing thoughts are the hallmark of obsessive compulsive disorder of the thought variety, aka OCD. I’m going to name some frequent fliers that occur for people with OCD, and give examples, because so much shame permeates this disorder. It needs to be said out loud to remove the stigma. You are not alone. Good, kind people have these tormenting thoughts, and I want to help them, possibly you.
Kinds Of OCD Thoughts
Morally repugnant, self or other harming, blasphemous, disgust producing, questioning reality, big existential thoughts that are unsolvable, meaning of life thoughts, losing-your-mind kinds of thoughts, doubts about relationships (with no evidence for them), sexual orientation/sexual identity thoughts, illness and dying scenes played over and over, that you will do something completely humiliating or weird, traumatic memory thoughts, even different types of worry: single topic, multi topic, or meta worry–worrying about worry. Wow, we are a creative species! But our brains can definitely get us in trouble, especially if you have the type that gets stuck in these types of patterns.
Here are just a few actual examples of some of the above:
- Fear you might hurt or kill your baby (may occur along with postpartum depression)
- Jumping or driving off a bridge or running your car off the road (I’m not talking about suicidal thoughts here)
- Thinking you’ll have sex with a relative, a brother or a parent, or the guy at the bus top you spoke with once
- Scrupulosity–thinking you will surely go to hell for blasphemous, impure thoughts
- Imagining the cook or staff spitting in your food before serving it to you
- Believing you would strip off your clothes and walk into a public space
- Cleaning up broken glass but believing shards remain everywhere and will harm you or someone else
- Feeling absolutely certain you will yell out something totally inappropriate
While I’m offering just a few examples here, you get the idea of the range that people experience. It is unnerving to say the least, but it is how these thoughts behave that defines them. These thoughts get stuck, repeat, ramp up, and preoccupy. They trigger your alarm response, making it easy for them to overtake your brain.
So How Do You Dump Your Spam?
It isn’t that obvious, I’ll tell you. But here it is. You have to stop battling the problem, and instead go willingly and purposefully toward the thoughts. When you do not avoid, recoil with disgust, or try to push these thoughts away, you rob them of their power. Avoidance simply does not work.
Stopping your internal commentary with stuck thoughts is more of an attitude shift than a specific technique.
And the worst part? It is not the thought itself, but how involved with the content you become that is the culprit. Remember when I said “I don’t know, and I don’t care. I never look at the content”? Your goal is to allow these thoughts to take place, accept that the thought is there and allow it, but to stop having an internal commentary with it. The second you begin that descent down the rabbit hole, you have engaged with the thought and given it importance and power that it does not deserve. It is more of an attitude shift than a specific technique.
I realize it can be hard to accept this if you struggle with OCD of the thought variety. If you need help with retraining your brain to manage this disorder more successfully, contact me here. You don’t have to suffer relentlessly with these stuck thoughts.
Artist Credit for image: Kevin Ward, 2022