Worrying, Intrusive and Racing Thoughts
Worrying, obsessive, intrusive or racing thoughts are some of the symptoms of anxiety that can bother people the most. They do not understand how they can have thoughts that seem so scary and come with such impact and with such frequency.
I have heard people say they fear the beginning of OCD, that they are having disturbing thoughts about those closest to them, about their health or that they feel that they are ‘going mad’. That these worrisome, intrusive thoughts just seem to come automatically with little to no control over their presence.
The reason you seem to have your attention on yourself all day and it feels like there are numerous thoughts running through your mind is because of all your confusion about how you feel. You may go around in circles all day long, looking for answers and trying to find a way out of this hell. Some people may struggle to sleep as they reflect on the whole day, trying to figure it all out. The mind just stays constantly active and never gets the break it so needs to finally be at peace.
Worrying can also become a habit. When you are in an anxious state, thoughts and emotions seem to be exaggerated. Everything magnifies. A little problem becomes massive and something that you could dismiss when you were healthy, sticks around all day. The worrying thoughts feed more worrisome thoughts and so you can end up in a constant cycle of worry and negative thinking.
You may find yourself thinking all day, as you hit one brick wall after another trying to find freedom from how you feel. The harder you try to find a way out, the more you think and worry about your current state and so the more you mentally wear yourself out. This leads to a mind that is exhausted, chaotic and out of control, where you just can’t stop thinking even if you wanted to. The intrusive thoughts in your head just seem constant and cause you a great deal of disturbance.
How do I control my thoughts?
The simple answer is that you can’t control them. You can’t control your thoughts, any more than you can control your heartbeat. If you could, then you would be able to constantly think positive thoughts and stop unwanted thoughts coming, which we know through experience is not possible.
If it was, then there would be no negative thinking, worrisome, racing thoughts and you wouldn’t be reading this article. You can be free of negative, worrying thoughts, but it won’t come through trying to control your thinking. Trying to push down or suppress the thoughts you don’t want, won’t free you of them, in fact, it will have the opposite effect.
Understanding this one fact is the first step to being free of obsessive thinking, as you can now stop wasting vital brain energy trying to control your thinking. You also stop the pointless pursuit of trying to quieten or shut your mind up. Trying to control your thoughts or shut the mind up just requires more thinking, so you just end up in a constant loop.
You have to realise that it is your mind that generates thoughts, not you, so trying to control your thinking serves no purpose, it only exhausts, frustrates and keeps you locked within your own mind.
Thoughts are just energy forms
Thoughts are just forms of energy passing through your consciousness. If you are at peace, then your thoughts have a peaceful flavour to them, if you are angry, then they have an angry flavour to them, if you are fearful, then they have a fearful flavour to them and if you are anxious then they have an anxious flavour to them. This goes along with the fact that they are just energy and are formed through the energy you are currently experiencing.
So, this is why when you are anxious, your thoughts have an anxious/worrisome flavour to them. This does not make them real; in fact, it tells you how false and how unimportant they are. A lot of these thoughts are your minds way of trying to release what is trapped within, be it anxious/fearful energy or deep subconscious beliefs that serve you no purpose.
This is why your mind can be a lot calmer after strenuous exercise, as this thought energy has been burnt off. It is also why people can get addicted to exercise, to quieten their mind. It is what I initially attempted to do until I realised that I was still trying to suppress and control my mind and not getting to the root of the problem.
Why are my thoughts so negative?
People ask me why their thoughts always seem to be mostly negative and my reply is ‘Because these are the thoughts you give most attention to and the thoughts you give the most attention to will keep repeating within the mind, as you are not allowing them to pass on through’.
This is true for anyone, if we were just going through our day and thinking about what we need to get in for tea later, the appointment with the vet, the new shoes we need for the night out next week, then these thoughts just come and then pass on through.
But then suddenly we see someone we know walk past, so we wave and yet they turn away without acknowledging us. We then think ‘Oh no what have I done to upset them?’ we can then spend the next few hours on this incident ‘Why was she so ignorant, I’ve always been there for her?’, ‘That’s the last time I bother with her!’.
As this thought has been deemed far more important than the others, this thought is not allowed to pass on through, so it sticks and keeps repeating itself in our mind. It sticks until we can come up with a solution, something to ease our concern. Then all of sudden the friend texts us and apologises for not waving back, she didn’t recognise us until they got further down the street and then realised who it was. The thought is then able to pass on through and we find the relief we were looking for.
So it is not that negative thoughts come more often, it is that these are the thoughts we give far more attention to and so they keep repeating themselves within the mind, this way of thinking becomes a habit. You may often come across people who just never seem happy, who have always something bad to say about others and are always complaining. Is it because life treats them differently or that negative thinking has just become such a habit for them?
So it is fine to have negative/worrisome thoughts, the way to be free of them is to allow their presence and then let them go. Just let them pass on through, without hooking on to them and treating them as in any way factual. They truly are of no relevance, whatever the content, they just need your belief in them to get your attention.
Without your belief and attention, they are free to just pass on into nothingness. Even if a thought keeps repeating itself with the mind, don’t try and stop it, don’t try and reason with it, just allow it to repeat itself until it runs out of energy, which without your constant attention it will.
Why intrusive thoughts are of no importance, whatever their content
What continually changes can never be real and your thoughts are changing all the time, as are your emotions. It doesn’t matter what you think or how you feel, the world spins exactly the same for everyone. The outside doesn’t change because of how you think, only your personal experience of the outside appears different due to your thinking.
Your thinking literally creates your experience and why we all experience life differently, as no two people think the same. This is fine when our thoughts are balanced and don’t cause us much turbulence, the problem only occurs when our thoughts become anxious and fearful, then the outside falsely appears to be a fearful, worrying place to be, full of problems that constantly need our attention.
This is what causes people to start avoiding life, to worry and complain more, not realising that the world hasn’t changed, just their thinking. The world is exactly, the same, non-threatening place it was before they suffered, it just no longer appears that way due to their identification with the fearful/anxious thoughts in their mind.
Without identification and belief in their anxious/fearful thoughts, these thoughts would have no fuel to continue and so would then start to fade away and then their view of the outside would start to change. It is not your thoughts that cause the disturbance, it is your attention and belief in them that do, this is exactly what causes you to worry and add more thinking on top of thinking. If you no longer believed in them then they would have no power to pull you in this way, you would just carry on with your day without paying them any respect.
Don’t see your thoughts as reality
How many times are our thoughts totally wrong about a person or situation? Someone who has insecure thinking constantly thinks their partner is going to leave and so may need constant reassurance. Someone who has anxious thoughts may believe that everything will go wrong, so they have to stay in constant control. Someone with thoughts about low self-esteem may believe that nobody cares about them and so the smallest thing can offend them.
Time and again our thinking will prove to be incorrect and have no truth in reality, this happens to each and every one of us at some point. Yet we always go back to our thinking to tell us the truth about a situation, never stepping back and thinking that maybe our thoughts don’t deserve the respect we give them.
Why do my intrusive thoughts come with such speed and frequency?
The intrusive thoughts come with such frequency due to your constant obsession with over-thinking, through the need to keep going over things, worrying about things and trying to fix them. It is your overuse of the mind and the thinking process that gives it momentum and forms a habit of constant thinking. This is why your mind can feel out of control and frantic, feel so worn out and spent, like you just want to find the ‘off’ button, but can’t.
The more attention and belief you give to these thoughts, then the more impact they have on your reality, not understanding that they hold no truth whatsoever, they are just thoughts, nothing more than mental noise created within your consciousness.
So, you cannot stop unwanted thoughts but you can only pull your interest and belief from them. In doing so, they have no fuel with which to continue and the energy form has no option, but to wither away. It really is just pure physics when you truly understand it.
So again there is no need to try to change or rid yourself of scary/negative thoughts, this is completely pointless and counterproductive. All you have to do when your thoughts are obsessive or negative is to allow them to be negative and obsessive, but pull your interest and belief away from them, understanding that they hold no truth.
Don’t attempt to ignore your thoughts, just allow them to run freely in the background and they will run out of momentum all by themselves with no involvement or interference from you. Also, the less you get involved with your thinking, the more the momentum in your mind will die down and the habit of over thinking will diminish.
So don’t ever think, “I must not think that”. Let all thoughts come and do not attempt to suppress or turn away from any of them. See them for what they are – thoughts/energy forms, exaggerated because of the way you feel. They are just your mind trying to make sense and release the energy that has been built up within, like a kettle releasing steam.
Trying to force unwanted thoughts back down is just like playing the fairground game ‘Whack a mole’ every time you try and push them back down, they will just keep coming back up, so it is far better to allow the mind its freedom to spout what it wishes and let its momentum come down all by itself.
Allowing the momentum of the mind to slow down
I was once repairing my bike and when I had finished I spun the wheel and after a while, the wheel came to a stop of its own accord. I suddenly had a real insight that the best way to bring the mind to rest was to just leave it be and it will come to its own rest, just like the wheel on my bike did.
The spinning wheel was like my mind having a thought storm, spinning its tales and nonsense. Me getting involved with it all by adding more thinking was like spinning the wheel again and again and so it could not come to rest. If I just allowed the thought storm in my mind to be as it was then eventually it would have no energy to continue and would come to its own place of rest.
This analogy worked very well for me, as you see I wasn’t trying to stop the thoughts or ignore them and neither was I was trying to control them or sort them out. I just allowed the mental noise to happen without getting involved with it. Nothing happened overnight but over time with this new approach, the mind really started to calm and I felt far more mental peace.
So, accept that at first your thoughts may still run for a while until the momentum in the mind runs out, see this as perfectly normal. Just allow the mind to be like a free running computer, which is really all it is. Let it throw out what it wishes and think as much as it wishes without feeling the need to get involved or sort it out, giving no importance to its noise and antics. This is the way to be free of negative and repetitive thinking, to find peace from a chaotic mind.
Don’t get angry or attempt to fight with your mind
As you may have now realised, the mind can never come to rest through force, it can only come to its own resting point, which it will when you pull away your interest and just leave it alone. If you held a bowl of water and wanted the water to settle, you wouldn’t start trying to settle it through force, all this would do, is disturb it even more and it would never calm.
What you would do is just put it down, let it slosh around for a while and allow it to come to its own resting point, which left alone it would. You find peace through a non-doing, not a doing, peace will never come through struggle, strain and control. This is the way to be free of any form of negative thinking and to calm your overactive mind. Never get into a battle with your mind, never try to force it to think differently or to quieten down through any kind of force or willpower, let it find its own resting place.
Releasing past thoughts
If you have constant thoughts about the way someone treated you or a bad experience you went through, if you keep regurgitating it in your mind, then the thought and memory is never released. The thought will keep gaining energy and so the brain will keep on repeating it, which again will begin to disturb your peace. The experience you are thinking about is not happening now, so you are free to let it go and it is the letting go of it that frees you. The memory, which again is just a thought form in your mind begins to run out of energy and your mind is then able to release it.
Keeping it within whilst going over and over it, doesn’t help in any way, shape or form, it just keeps disturbing your peace in this moment, it serves no other motive. I am not saying there aren’t things that people find hard to let go off and some may need to talk this through before they are able to let go completely, but I see people holding on for months about a minor argument they had with a friend or a throwaway comment someone said to them weeks ago.
It is why after a break-up people recommend to throw away all traces of the person, delete them off their phone and all social media, as this is the best way to get over them. Which really means it is the best way to not think about that person and so the thought eventually fades out and they are free from that pain.
The ones who don’t get over them and cause themselves far more suffering are those that don’t throw away their old photos, who try and keep in touch, constantly go over things and stalk them on social media. They are holding on to that thought/memory and so aren’t able to free themselves from it and so as a result don’t find any peace.
The most important thing to take away from this article is that thoughts in themselves are not the problem, it is your identification with them that is. This is what has you going over and over things, adding more thinking on top of thinking which keeps you in a continuous cycle of a noisy and chaotic mind.
It is also your fear of your thoughts that has you trying to suppress them and this fear again comes through your belief in them. If a negative/fearful/worrisome thought comes up then fully allow it. No thought is more important than another, none of them are personal, so don’t feel the need to shower them with belief and interest and they will begin run out of fuel and fade into nothing. Without identification then thoughts truly have no power, when you begin to see this, it will change everything.
Don’t try to sort out the noise in your mind, if it wants to be noisy then allow it to be noisy, allow it to think and worry about whatever it wishes while you stay a detached observer, unaffected by the minds antics. Realise the minds nature is to be calm, it is just ended up at this point due to what we have put it through, the worry, the over thinking, the stress, we have just pushed it beyond its capabilities. All it needs to go back to calm is to be left alone, so take away the worry, over thinking, the battle you have with it.
This is why it is vital to leave it alone even at its noisiest and most fearful, trust me if you just leave the mind alone it will sort itself out and eventually find its own calm. It truly needs no interference from yourself to heal and find its natural resting place.
Here are some more tips on relaxing the anxious, racing mind. If you found this page helpful and would like to read my full story of recovery from anxiety and panic, then I have written it all down in my best-selling book. For more details click on the title ‘At Last a Life’