Fear of "jumping"
As I was waiting for the train to arrive, an extremely disturbing, intrusive thought appeared in my head out of nowhere. The thought was very short and straightforward: “Jump!”
It was at the height of my anxiety disorder and that mere thought triggered my anxiety to go over the roof. I rushed towards the stairs and went up to the waiting area of the station. I wanted to avoid that thought from provoking me to do something that I never wanted to happen.
As you can tell, I eventually didn’t do it. Moreover, I no longer struggle with OCD intrusive thoughts. But what is the power behind the belief that we can act on these thoughts?
Desire, motivation and action
The fact that we believe that we might act on these thought is coming from a belief that thoughts materialize. Movies like The Secret made this belief popular in our culture because it's good to sell you a dream.
Surely, there is more to the human nature of believing in impractical theories throughout history but The Secret is a perfect example to give you the idea. The secret of that movie is simple: it needed a lot of desire, motivation and most importantly action, a lot of action in fact in order to materialize.
Here's what happens when we apply "the secret" to intrusive thoughts. Keep in mind that these are the type of thoughts that you fear, are ashamed of and feel guilty for having. Guess what happens? You have no desire, motivation, let alone action plan to execute them.
You resisting these thoughts, means that you never want them to happen in the first place. Resistance is exactly what makes them persist. So when you try to avoid, resist or suppress intrusive thoughts, they only gets stronger. It happens because your brain marks these thoughts as important due to the strong emotional reaction you have towards them.
People who commit suicide or act violently, do it because they have the motivation to do it and are ready to take action.
So how can you end intrusive thoughts then?
Intrusive thoughts, just like symptoms go as you anxiety level goes down. It’s important to process them fully with a practice called Imaginal Exposure. The practice will help you run all the scary scenarios that are already in your head to logical ending.
Once you run your fear in your imagination, you will stop feeding these thoughts with strong emotional reaction. This will in turn tell your brain that these thoughts no longer need to be marked as “priority.”
So you are not going crazy. Crazy people never think that they are “going crazy.” There is not a single case of anxiety disorder leading to insanity. You just have high level of anxiety, that could be brought down and intrusive thoughts will be gone.
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