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What can I do to stop intrusive thoughts in my head?

This is a great question and one I get asked quite frequently. The reality is that we all have thoughts going around our head almost constantly.

The average person has around 60,000 thoughts per day. About 80% of those thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday and they are also mostly negative thoughts (towards ourselves or other people or situations).

Some of these thoughts may not be wanted. You may not have consciously brought them up. You may try to push them aside and think of other thoughts but still they appear: they may be intrusive thoughts.

The key is to recognise that you are not your thoughts, you are the observer of those thoughts.

You cannot be tarnished by the thoughts in your mind.

This metaphor may help: imagine you are sitting on the side of the road, watching the cars (or thoughts) go by. The cars will appear and then disappear. There is no need to get into any of the cars. Just as there is no need to engage with any of the thoughts. Thoughts naturally arise in the mind and that isn’t going to stop. The brain, after all is just doing its job, which is to think. The brain thinks just as the lungs breathe.

When a thought starts to arise in the mind that you don’t want to engage with, it can be helpful to focus on a physical sensation, such as your breath. Be curious about that sensation, ask yourself how the air feels as it enters your nose, where you feel the breath in your body, whether each breath is the same as the one before or different, how is it different. And so on.

It’s a question of training your brain to focus on what you want it to focus on. This can be tricky to begin with and you will naturally find your mind wandering to other things, (the mind loves to go over and over problems) but with time and practice you will find that you can distance yourself from those thoughts.

Try a little meditation. 10 minutes a day is all you need to begin with to see more clarity in the mind. Good luck!

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