Read Dr Tony's latest article: How To Accept Disturbing Thoughts

How To Accept Disturbing Thoughts

Psychologists believe that the best way to rid yourself of obsessive disturbing thoughts is not to fight them,but rather to accept them and even force yourself to think about them. Psychologists call this exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a process where you slowly expose yourself to your upsetting thoughts or situations that trigger your anxiety forcing you to tolerate the feelings you once had to avoid. Eventually, you learn to desensitize yourself to these disturbing thoughts and they no longer have power over your thoughts and behavior.

Many people have disturbing and even horrifying thoughts. These thoughts are not based in reality, yet cause us to react
as if they are indeed real. For example, people may obsess about germs and worry that the things around them are somehow contaminated and dangerous. Others can’t stop thinking about the possibility of losing control and
even harming someone. You may worry about making irreparable mistakes.These obsessive thoughts can be very disturbing if you don’ know how to deal with them. The more we fight them, the stronger or more frequent they sometimes become.

Disturbing Relationship Thoughts
Unwanted thoughts sometimes occur in relationships. These thoughts can destroy it  even when there is no reality basis for the thoughts.  Most commonly, you may constantly “check” your  partner’s phone for texts or phone calls from old partners or previous relationships. You may become insecure and needy, desperately trying to get the “truth” or control every aspect of your partner’s life so you can trust them again. Constant reassurance that no cheating has occurred does not eliminate your thoughts and fears. Worse, thoughts may turn into accusations or demands that your partner  reveal things that they consider private or off-limits. (like previous relationships). At first,  your partner may be tolerant of these outbursts but constant accusations (when nothing is going on)   get old –fast.

How to Rid Yourself of Disturbing Relationship Thoughts
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, and against common sense, psychologists have discovered that the most effective way to rid yourself of obsessive disturbing thoughts is not to fight them,but rather to accept them and even force yourself to think about them. Psychologists call this exposure therapy which is considered “evidence-based” treatment for this condition.

Exposure therapy is a process where you slowly expose yourself to your upsetting thoughts or situations that trigger your anxiety forcing you tolerate the feelings you once had to avoid. Eventually, you learn to desensitize yourself to these disturbing thoughts and they no longer have power over your thoughts and behavior.  This makes sense once you realize that thoughts are not necessarily true at all- they are just thoughts which you have for any number of reasons (the most common reason is that something that is going on now is triggering old fears and insecurities from previous relationships or from your childhood which you don’t remember).

The idea here is that even if you can’t stop the thoughts, you can control how you respond to them. Think of unwanted thoughts like a strong wind when you are sailing. You can’t stop the wind, but you can change the angle of the sail to control your boat.

To begin this process of learning to respond differently to your unwanted thoughts, you will need to fill in two worksheets.

Start Here; Accepting_your_Upsetting_Thoughts_

Over-Thinking a Situation or obsessively thinking about things can paralyze you. If you are tempted,remember the poor Centipede: "A centipede was happy - quite! Until a toad in fun Said "Pray, which leg moves after which?" This raised her doubts to such a pitch, She fell exhausted in the ditch Not knowing how to run." For consultation with Dr. Fiore in either Long Beach or Newport Beach, call 714-745-1393 or email: drtonyfiore@gmail.com