Intrusive thoughts can be very distressing and a source of great mental pain. Such thoughts may sometimes just arrive in the mind spontaneously, or they might materialize as a result of a trigger that has reminded us if past traumatic experiences.
However, the good news is that how we interpret these thoughts and our attitude to them can greatly reduce the degree to which we are disturbed by them and the associated mental pain.
The key to achieving this is to ACCEPT these thoughts rather than to fight them. This is because fighting them simply adds to the degree of anguish we feel and does not work. It is rather like trying to hold a balloon underwater; despite our strenuous efforts, it constitutes an exercise in futility because it will keep pushing back up to the surface, leaving us frustrated and exhausted.
So, fighting intrusive thoughts both compounds and prolongs the problem. It can result in becoming entangled and enmeshed with the thoughts, increases our anxiety about them, or obsessively trying to reason them away. Instead of engaging with the unwanted thoughts and treating them as important, a much better method that capitalizes on the idea that ACCEPTANCE is the key is represented by the acronym: RJAFTP. This stands for:
Accept and allow
Float and free
Let time pass
The following cognitive hypnotherapy self-hypnosis audio, in the REDUCING MENTAL PAIN series, incorporates these six elements as its primary foundation
When automatic, intrusive thoughts impinge on your conscious awareness…as they are prone to do…you will be able to remind yourself that they are just that, automatic, intrusive thoughts…and that they are entirely harmless…they may feel dangerous…but they are not…they are just thoughts…and they can be safely left alone…they can be regarded as junk thoughts….unworthy of serious attention…and are meaningless…as you become more and more aware of this…and find it easier and easier to adopt this new attitude…you will increasingly be able to remain unreactive to them…and just let them be…staying unentangled by unentangled…and staying calm…you will become better and better at accepting the intrusive thoughts and allowing them to remain as long as they like…because they are not dangerous…equally, they can fade away as soon as they like…because these thoughts automatically and harmlessly come and go…but whether they are present…or not present…you will be increasingly capable of remaining calm and safe…in fact…having these automatic thoughts allows you to practice your new, non-judgmental attitude to them…and reminds you that you can view them for what they are…meaningless…unimportant.
..and innocuous…so…you will be able to gently withdraw your attention from them and not participate with them…and…if other intrusive thoughts follow…it does not matter… again, you can take them or leave them with equal equanimity…and…as you continue to apply this laissez-faire attitude to these automatic, intrusive thoughts…they will seem more and more impotent and trivial. More and more, you will be able to rise above these thoughts and let them float by…whilst keeping your mind on the present…in order to keep your mind on the present…you can ask yourself questions like… what can I presently see, hear, feel, taste or smell…or simply focus on your breathing…any discomfort you may feel is OK…it is harmless and tolerable…you will be able to rise above it…observe it nonjudgmentally… and simply carry on with your life…focusing on the present…unhindered…discomfort is not the same as danger…and…whilst there is no rush…as time continues feelings of discomfort will diminish and be replaced by other sensations…no feelings are permanent…
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).