Intrusive Thoughts are Okay

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

When we have thoughts that our body isn’t enough as it is or we hunt down reasons to feel separate us from a friend or partner these thoughts may be intrusive or unwanted. In my training I was taught that these sticky thoughts must be challenged, we must gain evidence against the thoughts, and then we are taught to change the thoughts. I was even trained to believe that this approach is supported by evidence to work. I later learned that the money poured into these therapies was allocated to therapies created by White males in the field. Therapies created by women and people of color that are equally or more helpful do not have the same money allocated to determine if they are supported by evidence. I also learned that the challenge and change one’s thoughts approach is helpful for some people, but not for many people who have experienced trauma. When I discovered this I felt shocked and disappointed given that most or all of my clients survived trauma/grief.

Then I began my journey learning ways to approach these sticky thoughts through the body, spirituality, and learning more about intrusive thoughts. Information about intrusive thoughts lets people know it’s not their fault. While an intrusive thought around our body image may help inform us realize we want a more active lifestyle, it may also ascribe to racist, old ideals of body perfection (please see Sabrina Strings book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia). Or perhaps intrusive thoughts are hinting that we’re overextending ourselves. The busy thoughts could be intruding letting us know we need rest, water, food, connection, or other essentials. Sometimes the intrusive thoughts don’t have a meaning or hint.

In my journey to better understand these thoughts I learned and continue to learn that intrusive thoughts are simply okay as they are and we don’t have to make stories from them. If they happen to hint that we need some rest, then cool. If the intrusive thoughts are simply arising that’s okay too. One thing we may want to skip is challenging the intrusive thoughts because then we have different parts of us battling ourselves (for example then we enlist our inner defender to fight our inner critic). Challenging also brings us further from presence. I recommend tuning into the breath in the moment. People can do this by starting with a guided meditation rooted in breath work. Otherwise, there’s plenty of info on body connection for intrusive thoughts in my new course, Trauma Care: How to Reparent Your Intrusive Thoughts (use this coupon for free access!! LOVETOYOU).

Intrusive thoughts are okay as they are, just like we are okay just as we are. Please consider getting in touch with your body when the mind feels all intrusive and sticky. Whether that’s feeling your heart or taking a few slow breaths I am excited for us to get back to our bodies. Thanks for exploring a different approach to mental health care and we’ll be here next week for more.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

If you’d like a free 15 minute consultation with me please click here.

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