DON'T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT!
Okay, I’ll wait. No cheating!
How long did you make it without thinking about it?
My guess is, not even 5 seconds.
Wegner, a psychology professor at Harvard University, developed his theory of "ironic processes" to explain why it's so hard to eliminate unwanted thoughts.
He found evidence that when we try not to think of something, one part of our mind does avoid the forbidden thought, but another part "checks in" every so often to make sure the thought is not coming up—therefore, ironically, bringing it to mind.
"OK, so what do I do about this?"
"Is there any way to avoid unwanted thoughts?" The short answer is NO.
Here is the thing about intrusive thoughts:
Intrusive thoughts are automatic and will come up from time to time. Some people will experience them more often than others. It is important that if you feel that your daily functioning is impaired because of them, you seek professional support.
How can we manage intrusive thoughts?
1. Identify and label them
2. Accept them
3. Defusion and Mindfulness
4. Take action
I hope this post brings some light into how to manage intrusive thoughts when they appear at your door.
Let me know in comments your experience.