It depends on the specific type of thoughts and how you feel about them.
If you have a vivid idea, unbidden, that you are loved and serving a great purpose with enormous serenity and aplomb, well, you may want to just let that thought happen. Enjoy!!
If the thoughts are destructive and persistent, however, talk to a trusted professional immediately. If you don’t have a trusted professional, get on that immediately. In the U.S. and Canada you can text to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor.
It’s easier to find resources when you aren’t in the middle of an emergency, you know. It feels terrible to be the emergency, but sometimes that’s just they way it is. Go on. This will be here when you get back.
Most of the intrusive thoughts I have are just the annoying variety. My strategy for the nagging, irritating type of intrusive thoughts is very simple. It does not work 100%, but it’s 100% harmless and sometimes fun.
The most common intrusive thought I have is almost audible and is predictably triggered whenever I chop vegetables. It’s an auditory memory of a chorus of my high-school boyfriends saying, “Who taught YOU to cook?” They are very snotty about it, too.
Now, many intrusive thoughts are just random sprinklings of (usually) bad ideas that humans are supposed to have so that someone will discover that oysters are delicious. If we didn’t have these weird impulsive thoughts, we’d be missing out on all kinds of murky options.
The important thing with ordinary intrusive thoughts is not to avoid the thoughts or the situation that you associate with it–that way lies phobia.
You are allowed to think anything, it’s your private territory in there. You can just watch that thought pop up and float away, signifying no action or reaction. It’s always your choice.
Remember that everybody has stupid thoughts. Not everyone is imagining that the driver of a car is really just a pile of ducklings in a suit–that’s your very own brand of stupid thought. Enjoy it as much as you can.
For my repetitive and most irritating thoughts, I scold them and talk back in whatever way I find the most entertaining and distracting. Some days my depression is named Deborah. If she’s too pushy with her pessimism, I tell her to get in the back seat and buckle up and be quiet.
Likewise, after nearly forty years, I am in charge of the snotty boyfriend chorus when it chimes in. While I am chopping lots of peppers and onions, preparing a meal for my over-sized clan, they may hear me shout occasionally.
Some of them know it’s just my healing yell, “Myself and a bunch of videos of Julia Child, Motherfuckers!!”