Obsessive thinking affects 1 in every 50 people. It’s one of the psychological problems that people who suffer from it tend to hide. Obsessive thinking is when you stay hooked onto a single idea and you can’t get it out of your mind. Generally, obsessive thoughts come with worrying at an irrational or absurd level. All of this causes unnecessary suffering.
We have all experienced bad days, arguments, or situations that ruin our entire day. These situations make us spend the whole day thinking about them and how we could have acted or reacted in some other way. Even so, no matter how much we would like to, we can’t stop thinking obsessively. Even though we can’t change anything, our mind doesn’t stop going over the situation time and time again and it turns into a “I want to stop, but I can’t” situation. These thoughts are obsessive.
Obsessive thinking as a psychological problem
We all have obsessive thoughts sometimes. That means that having some of these thoughts doesn’t necessarily signify a problem, much less a disease. Even so, it’s a psychological problem for some people, since these thoughts alter their lives considerably. Additionally, they tend to hide these thoughts. It’s embarrassing to admit that you have something strange and ugly.
For these people, obsessive thoughts are recurrent. The obsessive thoughts they have gravitate around absurd worries and, although they know they’re absurd, they can’t avoid these thoughts. A classic example of an obsessive thought is “Would I be capable of doing something dishonest, illegal, or severely criminal?”
Causes of obsessive thoughts
Obsessive thoughts arise for various reasons or, better stated, from the combination of several factors. One of the most common is related to the future, specifically the need to predict the future. We want to know the future in order to predict it and we want to know that a tragedy won’t happen in our lives tomorrow. We want to control the uncontrollable, but we can’t. Unexpected things happen every day.
Another cause of obsessive thinking is our low tolerance for anxiety. We live in a world where we’re always running around and are constantly bombarded by stimuli and information. We’re forced to always keep busy doing things. All of this generates stress and can cause anxiety. It’s a normal thing that our bodies are prepared for, but not our minds. When confronted with a certain idea that causes us nervousness, we want to get rid of it and quiet it. We tend to not reflect on it.
The last reason is one we like to call “terrible-itis.” Terrible-itis is the belief that any challenge is “terrible.” We think we’re the center of the universe, and that’s why any setback seems like the end of the world. This tendency to exaggerate problems constitutes are one of the reasons for having obsessive thoughts. Even though these are the three main reasons, there are others, such as superstitious thinking, excessive feelings of shame, fear of being ridiculed, etc.
What to do when faced with obsessive thoughts?
Obsessive thinking has some defining characteristics, which can help us to neutralize its negative influence. 100% of people can be free from these thoughts or reduce their power to the point that they can be ignored. We can all get rid of obsessive thoughts without having to rely on drug. Nevertheless, you’ll need to go through some treatment.
This treatment is based on learning to tolerate anxiety. The more anxiety we’re capable of handling, the higher the levels of anxiety we will be able to stand. For this, you have to get used to anxiety, or at least to certain levels of anxiety. You also have to learn to tolerate uncertainty. We have to be able to live without thinking of the things we can’t predict.
On another level, we must also stop considering “prattling” to be important. Most of the problems we have aren’t very important, so one of the best things we can do with a problem is to place it in its rightful place on the grand scheme of things. For this, we have to accept ourselves. We have to erase the “perfect” image of how we should be, which is so unrealistic. We have to start to accept our imperfections. All of this will help us to distance ourselves from useless thoughts in general and obsessive ones in particular. In summary, we have to get it into our heads that “nothing is too terrible.”