Obsessive thoughts and behaviours can sometimes be hard for us to identify in ourselves. They can develop gradually, embedding themselves as a normal part of our lives, and often our mind justifies behaviours that we might suspect have become obsessive.
There are a few ways to identify obsessive thoughts. They are strong, repetitive and prevent you from focusing on anything else no matter how hard you try. They are intrusive, constant or regular, and fear or panic inducing.
Obsessions are images, ideas or thoughts that will not go away. They can become so severe they debilitate and hold people back from daily life.
These thoughts or actions become unhealthy or anxiety producing when they are overly negative or cause stress. Obsessive thoughts can be about anything but common themes I see in my clients include:
- Fear of getting sick
- Fear of death
- Need for organisation
- Worrying about others
- Food, smoking, alcohol
- Obsessing over a person
- Thoughts of violence
When you cannot ease these thoughts, your body reacts with panic, distress or other uncomfortable feelings.
Some people find they can momentarily relieve the distress with prescribed actions. This is sometimes a sign of OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s often characterised by obsessive cleaning, checking behaviours, counting and other rituals.
Compare your behaviours to other people – do yours seem more severe or obsessive? Are they holding you back from enjoying your everyday activities?
We all have dark thoughts, fears or little peculiarities but when these become out of hand, cause considerable distress or make us change our normal activities, it’s time to seek help.
Help For Obsessive Thoughts & Behaviour
Sometimes obsession is our mind’s way of trying to draw attention to or deal with un-acknowledged emotions, fears or trauma. Our minds mistakenly link certain behaviours to certain feelings – for example if I turn the light on and off 20 times I feel better – which might be true for a while but it isn’t addressing the root cause of the distress.
Hypnotherapy can unpick these unhelpful connections. I help many clients find freedom from their obsessions and understand why they developed in the first place.
In the meantime, there are some short term fixes you can use to help yourself. Try refocusing your attention with distractions or hobbies. Limit the reaction you allow yourself to the thoughts using mindfulness techniques – acknowledge the thoughts or desires, but choose not to give into them and use breathing or relaxation to deal with any anxiety.
Discussing your thoughts with other people can help you find relief. Many people prefer to talk to a professional because they feel the thoughts or behaviours will be shocking to their friends and family but many people will be able to support you.
If you’d like to learn more about how I could help you please do get in touch.