Stop Intrusive Thoughts? Can I stop them?
Intrusive thoughts are something which many people struggle with, so it’s best to have a technique up your sleeve to get rid of them.
In this post I share what I personally did to overcome debilitating intrusive thoughts with my first baby.
Whenever unwanted thoughts popped into my head (welcome to the new mothers club), I practised a simple technique which I call ‘the flip’.
As soon as I experienced the horrific thought, I flipped it. I thought of the happiest, best possible outcome I could imagine. It sounds mechanical I know, but bare with me.
Something which had caused great distress for many weeks quickly became easier to manage by practising this technique.
The flip got repeated. Day in, day out. I never stopped. And this still works for me in my daily life if those horrid thoughts ever come back.
This is the technique I’m talking about. You recognise the thought. And flip it as soon as it comes in.
In doing so, violent thoughts can instantly, manually be switched off. You give yourself a lil’ pep talk and say “I see you there, but I’m not going to listen.”
“Instead, I’m going to think this (insert positive thought).”
Have affirmations posted everywhere around the house, reminding you to do this with any anxious or obsessive thoughts. Tell yourself to FLIP IT to something good.
Ideally, the best outcome you can possibly imagine.
Most mums experience some form of intrusive thoughts. It’s just not many women talk about them.
I experienced them big time when I suffered from postnatal anxiety. Incessant, none stop intrusive thoughts.
At the time I’m sure it was a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or compulsive behaviors, as they had such an impact on my quality of life. I didn’t hesitate to get the help I needed from my GP I’ll be honest.
The thing is, as a woman with a new baby, naturally we want to do what’s best. So when a vivid intrusive thought comes in, it deeply affects us and questions our abilities and judgements.
We won’t want to say anything to anyone, for concern of what they’ll think of us. Am I wierd for having these thoughts was something that went through my mind constantly.
I say this from personal experience because it’s what happened to me. I’ve always wanted to be the best mum to my kids. So these thoughts are the last thing I wanted at what was meant to be a really happy time.
The important thing to know, is up to 90% of new parents experience unwanted intrusive thoughts, according to researchers.Filterfreeparents.com
Did you know that up to 90% of new mums experience intrusive thoughts?
Some women are able to mind hack their way out of them, ignoring them and getting on with stuff.
Yet other mums take these thoughts seriously.
This was me. I was obsessed with the health of my baby, and my own health too.
Intrusive thoughts that affect daily life can be a sign of an anxiety disorder (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder) or postnatal depression.
And, a key point to know! If you’re getting upset by these horrid thoughts, that’s good news, because it means you recognise them as a threat.
You realise they’re not you.
This is where, by recognising the thought, the ‘Flip’ works extremely well.
And the more you practise the easier it becomes and the quicker you get at doing it and finding relief from common intrusive thoughts.
Eventually those thoughts will stop being so harrowing, through practising this technique.
The truth is, we can’t control what thoughts pop into our heads. Especially in the postnatal, early motherhood period our hormones play havoc with how we feel.
New mums are in hyper protection mode of their babies and these thoughts represent a worst case, imagined scenario.
What we need to start doing is learning and practising not listening to them. Not believing in them.
Learn to flip them (or tell them to f*ck off the F off if the flip doesn’t work).
Learn not to let them have so much power over you.
And most importantly, don’t be afraid to open up and talk about them. You’re certainly not alone. No anxiety sufferer is ever alone.
Seek help from a mental health professional or your GP as effective treatments are out there.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is very highly regarded for treating common intrusive thoughts. I’m not certain, but the ‘Flip’ may be a CBT technique although I’m not a trained CBT therapist, so can’t confirm this.
Do seek help if you’re struggling from your GP or medical professional.
When you open up and talk about disturbing thoughts, you’ll find understanding, empathy & support. So don’t delay in seeking help.
As a last note, if you’re experiencing intrusive thoughts please remind yourself that these thoughts do not represent anything real. They’re only thoughts and you do have the ability to choose a different thought.
You can flip that thought right round as soon as it enters your mind.
I’m here if you need support or have further questions. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is my disclaimer for further information.