Intrusive thinking in motherhood is a pretty common issue. Here’s how to put them in their place…
I get it. Intrusive thoughts in motherhood are so annoying, right? You’re just here minding your own business trying to live your life and bang, an intrusive thought pops into your mind! You know the ones…
“What if I step out of the shower and there’s an intruder right there?”
“I’m travelling but—yikes—I’m imagining my plane going down!!”
“This balcony is so high up. What if I accidentally fall off?”
“My kid is just so vulnerable. I keep thinking about what would happen if he chokes, gets in an accident in gym class or gets really sick.”
“My partner hasn’t called. Why am I automatically assuming it’s because he’s in the hospital?”
Intrusive thoughts are those weird, scary, and unwanted thoughts that pop into our mind for no apparent reason. At best, they can be a little… odd. (I.e. “What the heck was that thought about!? Why did I just think that? So weird.”) At worst they can be disturbing, draining and impact how you live your day-to-day life. (I.e. “OMG! How terrifying. Just in case that thought comes true, I’m going to avoid X and Y. That’ll solve it! Also, what if that was a premonition!? Now I’m terrified.”)
Ok, if you’ve been in my community for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about intrusive thoughts on Instagram, here on the blog, you’ve read about it in my newsletter, or you’ve watched my workshop. (*Hint, hint* Yes, there’s a workshop, this is like an on-demand crash course in managing anxious, worried thinking, and sure I may be biased, but I think it’s a great tool. Check it out here my friend!) This is a common phenomenon in motherhood and it’s also an important one. That’s why I’m basically creating so much content around it. Education is key and so is proper anxiety management.
If you’re just learning about intrusive thoughts for the first time, or came across this blog without having seen my previous content breaking down all the need-to-know information on this topic, consider the below your intrusive thoughts 101 guide.
- “The thoughts that enter my mind are so awful! What’s going on?” 5 common categories of intrusive thoughts in motherhood
- Intrusive thoughts in motherhood: 5 mistakes you might be making
- Can I make intrusive thoughts go away? 4 ways to ease your mind
Study up! Knowledge is power, seriously. The more you know about a problem, the better able you’ll be to fix it. Remember: you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re not aware of what the problem is, why it’s happening, and what it *really* means, how are you supposed to get to the root of it? When you become better informed, you enable yourself to become an expert on your story and rewrite a different ending. You don’t have to struggle with this. You can totally get to a place where you see intrusive thoughts for what they are: weird thoughts that stem from the basic anxiety most of us experience in motherhood.
They don’t mean anything about you, seriously. (I’m sure!) Brains are just… strange. Think about how you wouldn’t judge yourself for a wildly illogical dream. You’d probably just wake up in the morning and just think, “Well that was a super weird dream. Kinda crazy what my brain comes up with while I’m asleep! Anyways… now coffee.” See how you’d probably pause for a moment and think, “Hmm, ok whatever,” and then move on with your day as per usual? You can do the same with intrusive thoughts.
The trick is to put them in their place as they pop up. Get sassy with them! Give them a little attitude! Push back! You’ve got this. Not sure where to start? Some mamas in the community told me how they do it. Honestly, I had to laugh at some of these. Sometimes, humour can really be the best therapy…
How moms shut down intrusive thoughts: Community real talk
- I say “swish, swish,” and pretend to throw it over my shoulder
- I say, oh I see what’s happening here… anxiety is trying to get the best of me
- I label it and intrusive, focus on something else and refuse to dwell on it
- I silently scream, put my hands over my ears and say *la, la, la, can’t hear you!*
- I recite baking recipes I’ve memorised. Seriously.
- I remember that thoughts are just thoughts
- I say hey there anxiety, f*** off!
- Hey brain, thanks for preparing me, I’ve got this though
- I remind myself that it’s all good but we don’t need to think about this now
- I give it a silly name like Darius or Horatio and then I say, “Cool Darius, but no one cares.”
- I remind myself that thoughts are not facts
- I tell my brain to quit being an a**hole
- I physically shake my head as I picture shaking the thoughts away
- I visualize throwing these kinds of thoughts in the trash
- I remind myself that thoughts are powerless unless I give them permission not to be
- I shake my head and say, “Hey brain, why are you being such a f***head?”
- I pretend they’re popups and just mentally click them away
- I remember that I’m just tired or a bit stressed
- I say, hey brain, that’s not a threat right now
- I tell the thought, please stop and just go away!
- I pretend to collect it in my hand and then I flush it down the toilet
- I tell myself that brains can just suck sometimes
- I call on someone in my support network