Obsessive thoughts are more frequent than we think. Lucia has a somewhat strange relationship with Mateo. He tells her that he needs to be alone for a while to disconnect and Lucia doesn't know how to act. She is looking for a serious commitment, but Mateo seems to want something less stable. All of Lucia's friends advise her to move away from the relationship because it is hurting her, but she has only been with Mateo for a year and cannot take it from her head. Her friends begin to tire of all the topics of conversation revolving around the same.
Alejandro is a medical student. He loves his career. Since the beginning of the course, he began studying for the February exams. Despite knowing that he has plenty of time ahead, he sets aside a lot of leisure activities to focus on the study. Even so, comes out once in a while, however, his thoughts only revolve around exams. He is unable to enjoy a walk, a movie or any social activity because his mind wanders between what he has learned and what he has left to know.
- 1 Obsessive thoughts, what do they consist of?
- 2 How to control obsessive thoughts
- 3 Mindfulness, attention and patience
Obsessive thoughts, what do they consist of?
As defined by DMS-5 (2014), obsessions "they are recurring and persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted". Another characteristic of obsessions is that the person "tries to ignore or suppress these thoughts, impulses or images, or neutralize us with some other thought or act."
Thoughts are necessary to be able to solve problems of any kind and be creative. In this way, we can know how to act in each situation. On the other hand, apart from thoughts, we are also equipped to react to a danger, real or perceived, immediately and automatically. Our alarm system allows us to react quickly to a threat and get safe. Nevertheless, This alarm system is activated many times without the existence of a real danger, as can happen with any phobia.
When our thoughts and our alarm system react at the same time in an exaggerated way, the result is obsessive thoughts. Our emotional brain perceives unpleasant thinking as a real threat. So the reason that certain thoughts cause us discomfort is not the content itself, but how we interpret them. Depending on our beliefs, the more importance we give to something, the more likely we are to react with anxiety and discomfort when a negative thought invades us.
How to control obsessive thoughts
Obsessive thoughts can generate great discomfort in those who suffer, so it is important to learn to control them. There are various techniques to manage them, however, the best way to "cope" is through a healthy psychological lifestyle. For this, it will be important to introduce some changes in our way of relating to ourselves, that is, with our thoughts and emotions. Some points to consider are:
- The Sincerity about the impact of discomfort Of obsessive thinking is important. When we try to repress a thought because it causes us too much discomfort with the intention that it stops affecting us, we get the opposite effect. That is why it is important to be honest about ourselves and recognize what thinking causes us the most discomfort.
- Learn to manage stress and emotional self-knowledge, represent fundamental factors to establish a new relationship with ourselves. In this way, we will learn to manage our emotions and acquire new skills in emotional and thought control.
- Accept the uncertainty It is something that many people do not carry very well, however, uncertainty is part of life. Learning to live without knowing what will really happen is crucial so that when what we do not want happens does not cause us an emotional car too intense.
- Observe the thoughts as they are, that is, learn to give fair importance to each thought by avoiding adding more importance than it may have.
Mindfulness, attention and patience
Mindfulness represents a very powerful technique in our self-knowledge. If we take the path of mindfulness, it is important to know that we must be constant. Obsessive thoughts are due to a lack of control over our mind throughout our lives, so we must be patient. Patience, in this case, is knowing that the changes will come slowly. As the saying goes, to walk a thousand steps, you have to take the first one. The same goes for obsessive thoughts.
If we intend to address an annoying aspect of our life, patience and day-to-day changes will be of paramount importance. Only with effort and dedication will we begin to collect the results. It would be too illusory to think that if we sow an apple seed, the next day we can eat apples. The same goes for personal work.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2016). Live the crisis fully. Barcelona: Kairos.
Robles, H. and Peralta, I. (2015). Stress Control Program. Madrid: Pyramid.