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Understanding Obsessive Thoughts and their characteristics

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It has happened to all of us at some time to feel that a thought in question completely dominates your mind and you find yourself unable to stop or change it. Having thoughts running through your head is normal, as long as it is something sporadic. Now when this rumination diminishes the quality of your life, it is necessary to go to a specialist.

In the latter case, we are talking about recurring obsessive thoughts that interfere with your daily life and prevent you from leading a normal existence. This is a much higher level than simple sporadic rumination, since, in this case, they can deteriorate various areas of your life and prevent you from living fully.

Analyzing a question is not always synonymous with a solution. In fact, it has been proven that overthinking not only does not lead to solutions, but also plunges you into a loop from which it is increasingly difficult for you to get out. This state is called rumination, since thoughts go around, stagnant, without establishing new connections that can release their content. This rumination generates in us very negative emotions such as frustration, impotence, anger or sadness. sadness, and makes us really exhausted, since overthinking consumes an extraordinary amount of energy. energy. In addition, the state of alert in which the mind is submerged when trying to exit this loop prevents us from thinking reasonably.

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Next, We are going to see what obsessive thoughts consist of and how to understand them, what are their characteristics and, most importantly, how to make them disappear from our brain.

What are obsessive thoughts and how do they work?

We call obsessive thoughts those that appear suddenly and without warning, are constantly repeated and, above all (and this is the most important thing) they inflict a considerable impact on our emotions, which has repercussions on our everyday life

Obsessive thoughts are nourished by the anxiety produced precisely by the appearance of the thought., which sets up a vicious circle from which it is very difficult to get out. In addition, as they are intrusive thoughts (that is, involuntary and uncontrolled) they can appear before any stimulus, which further increases the feeling of lack of control of those who suffer from them.


The origin of obsessive thoughts is invariably fear. This can be real or imaginary, but it always implies an event that is supposed to happen or has happened and that affects us significantly.

Generally, these fears are focused on the future (although obsessive thoughts may also appear in which one ruminates about something we have said or done and whether it has been appropriate). They are usually connected with catastrophes that are supposed to happen, such as a car accident, the death of a loved one, a job layoff, etc. The chances of this happening are usually quite slim., but the person tries to avoid the event with all his might. But how to control something that has not happened? This is where the rumination begins, where the person broods over every detail in a desperate (and fictional) attempt to control the situation.

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What can I do to eliminate obsessive thoughts?

This is indeed the million dollar question. How can we do to eliminate (or, at least, reduce) the arrival of these types of thoughts? Below, you will find some guidelines that can help you. However, remember that it is best to ask for help from a specialized professional.

1. Acceptance

So easy to say, and so hard to do. However, the acceptation of the situation is crucial for improvement. Therefore, accept it: you are having obsessive thoughts that are diminishing the quality of your life. That is the first point to solve the problem.

2. Pay attention

Carry out with your thoughts a kind of scientific investigation. When exactly did the thought appear? Under what stimulus? Where and who were you with when it came to mind? How do you react when the thought appears?

All these questions will help you to understand the process of this type of rumination, as well as its causes.. Remember that the detection of the element that causes the obsessive thought is essential to understand what is happening.

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3. Practice exercise and maintain a balanced diet

It has been proven that sports and a good diet help to "unclog" obsessive ideas from our minds. Not only that; Maintaining healthy relationships and practicing meditation or relaxation exercises (such as diaphragmatic breathing) can help you reduce stress, which is at the root of rumination.

  • Related article: "10 psychologically healthy daily habits, and how to apply them to your life"

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The most limited manifestation of obsessive thoughts is the so-called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), classified in the DSM-IV as an anxiety disorder that manifests with obsessions and compulsions. One of the keys to diagnosing the disease is that it severely limits the patient's quality of life, to the point that it is very difficult for them to lead a normal life.

What are obsessions? They are thoughts, ideas or even images that appear in the mind of the affected person constantly and trigger an anxious response.. There are numerous subgroups of OCD; among them, we find the fear of contamination by germs, the fear of forgetting something (which entails constant checks and compulsive), the fear of losing control and hurting someone and the fear of having thoughts contrary to the morality of the person.

On the other hand, compulsions, which in OCD usually accompany obsessions (although not always), are the behaviors that the affected person repeats over and over again, driven by the need to alleviate the enormous anxiety that is feeling. Among the most common are compulsive hand washing, arranging items in a certain way, or checking things over and over again (such as, for example, if the gas tap has been closed).

OCD usually appears at a very early age, with an average of 10 years (although it is also It is common for the first symptoms to appear around the age of 20) and it is more frequent in men than in women. women. In addition, it is important to take into account that the evolution of OCD is not linear, and there may be periods of few symptoms followed by episodes of aggravation.

Obviously, if you occasionally have a nervous moment and check something several times, it does not necessarily mean that you have OCD. The true essence of this disorder is the absolute inability of the affected person to control their thoughts and compulsions, leading you to waste much of your life on these behaviors obsessive; fact that, finally, has an unfavorable impact on their quality of life.

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