The Tiktok trend on Intrusive thoughts usually involves disturbing a sleeping pet animal or pressing a button labelled “DO NOT PRESS”. Then there are TikTok videos depicting persons in recovery responding to triggers that affect their mental well-being. Simone Saunders and Oneandonlysophie has provided some perspective on it. While we do not want to trivalise struggling with such thoughts, we should not be afraid of it either.
Intrusive thoughts may affect different people differently. While some might just shake it off, others may find it very disturbing and will try to do things to get rid of the thoughts. Usually the thoughts are triggered by a situation or memory and erupt into a string of repeated thoughts. Such rumination or repeated thoughts cause a lot of discomfort to some and can be very disruptive to daily living. If these intrusive thoughts are negative or goes against one’s own values and beliefs, it can be very distressing.
If you are getting intrusive thoughts remember that it is not always your fault. These thoughts can happen because our brain cells may just fire and connect automatically with environmental triggers. Hence it is very important to practice self-compassion and empathy towards yourself. Do not persecute yourself for being symptomatic. What you do, say or think during an episode is not a complete representation of who you are.
Practicing mindfulness could help one to stay calm. Acknowledge that these intrusive thoughts are there and observe them. Tell yourself that you are not your thoughts so long as you do not act on the negative thoughts. We may not be able to control very single thought every second of the day but we can learn to manage the emotions that comes with it.
Identifying distorted thinking can help to reduce our emotional reaction towards intrusive thoughts. However, if you are persistently getting intrusive thoughts, it would be good to see a mental health professional for help.