Why do I have such nasty thoughts?

Hi Mark!

I suffer from obsessive thoughts and I'm currently using hypnosis to overcome them. I'm doing pretty well; I've finally come to understand why I have them, why they keep coming back, and also that it's not me, it's my brain (that's my mantra! :-) ).

Anyway, I'm curious as to why they started in the first place! I don't have OCD or an anxiety disorder. I was so happy in my life and one night when I was drifting off, a horrible random thought just entered my head. I was wide awake within a second! I understand my reaction to the thought created the cycle, but where on earth did it come from! Like I said, I was happy and didn't suffer from any anxiety disorder.

The thought took me by such surprise and was totally against my values. I'm a good person! Also, mine are not 'what if' thoughts. They're more nasty statements and phrases mixed with images. I know it's all just become a habit because there are certain phrases that stick with me and repeat. It's like being stuck on a broken record.

Is it still okay if they're not 'what if' thoughts? I know I'm not a bad person, because I wouldn't be suffering like this if I was... I hope I have made sense! Many thanks. :-)

This question was submitted by 'Jo'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Jo and thanks for writing in.

People start having 'weird thoughts' for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes (but not so much in your case, it sounds like) it's because of heightened stress levels. If someone feels stressed but there is no immediate stressor, then the brain will create imaginary scenarios to feel stressed about. It's as if the stress needs to find something to give it shape, like water needing a container. That's why people sometimes find themselves worrying about stuff they wouldn't normally even think about when they feel generally a bit more stressed out.

You sound like a creative person. Another reason for exciting – and remember, 'exciting' doesn't have to mean good – thoughts coming into your mind is under-stimulation. It might be that things weren't quite so exciting when this habit started and your mind was looking for some kind of stimulation. As the saying goes, "the devil makes work for idle hands".

As you say, it was the reaction to the thought that caused the problem. It may have been that the thought itself, as you were drifting off, was simply an example of 'auto symbolic effect', in which thoughts or even stimuli from your environment become metaphorically represented in your mind as you drift into light initial phases of sleep.

For example, I once started to doze off with a fly buzzing in the room (I think it was during a maths class in school ; ) ) and in my mind, the buzz of the fly became the outboard motor of a boat taking me along a river. So, it might just have been that the symbolic content of this process happened to be disturbing, but it may have been an accident of nature that it was disturbing and not indicative of emotional disturbance within you.

But as you say, you are doing well and there is no reason why you can't keep doing well and do better. : )

All my best,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - May 3rd, 2015 in

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