Welcome to Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. Today we are talking about a concept that I get asked about so often. Today we are talking all about how to manage intrusive thoughts. So often I am asked by clients and the CBT School community questions like, “What is an intrusive thought?” and, “How do I manage intrusive thoughts from becoming mental compulsions?” and, “Why is it so hard to manage intrusive thoughts?”
These are all such good questions and I can totally resonate with why it is such a difficult and confusing topic. In today's episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit, I talk about why thought suppression doesn’t work and why distraction is a tool that only works for a short period of time. In this episode, we review the practice of mindfulness in an attempt to manage intrusive thoughts and create an environment in your brain where fear and uncertainty doesn’t run the show.
A wonderful follower sent me the below question:
“I have heard you talk about distraction and thought suppression. Does that mean I need to just focus on my thoughts and stay in my own head? While keeping myself busy with my job and other activities keeps me engaged and gets me out of my own head, does this count as a distraction? Also when you say distraction is bad, is it in the context of OCD or in general? I'm a bit confused, can you please provide some clarity on this.”
This is such a common question that I get asked and I wanted to take this time to address a concept called “Occupation,” which is the practice of allowing thoughts WHILE you go about your day. Occupation is a practice of taking intrusive thoughts with you while you do the things you value in life. This is a very important concept and can help us to define how we manage intrusive thoughts and how we can reduce engaging in compulsive behaviors and mental compulsions.
I hope this episode helps give you additional tools to help manage intrusive thoughts and mental compulsions.