What no one told you about dealing with obsessive thoughts

Obsessive thinking has to do with images, memories and / or words whose content is repetitive and intrusive.. In addition, there is no control over them, they appear involuntarily causing a lot of discomfort.

They are of no use rationally, because no matter how much our head turns to the same thing, we fail to draw positive conclusions, otherwise we overwhelm more and more, increasing our level of anxiety.

    Understanding obsessive thoughts

    I will give you some examples of obsessive thoughts:

    • I’m going to die, this chest pain is not normal, I can’t breathe … Why? Will I have anything else? Will it be a more serious illness? Will it be a mental illness?
    • I keep wondering if my life will be meaningful or not, if I’m fine, if others will see me…
    • I keep talking to Pilar about what she said to me, what she called me … Could she have been silent?
    • I don’t know why but I am thinking of killing my head or I have nightmares with which he dies, I am very afraid to think that something could happen to him.
    • I’m so scared that my mother will die, I don’t get it out of my head.
    • Did something have to happen to him? will it have happened? Have I been unfaithful?
    • Why did this happen? Why is this so? I do not understand. I can’t find the explanation.
    • I would throw myself on the tracks … Does my life have any meaning?
    • My body is awful, my nose is ugly.

    What no one has told you about obsessive thoughts is that they have a very specific purpose, although emotionally.


      There is a psychoanalytic defense mechanism that we call displacement. Defenses are created in our early childhood, to defend us against something or someone who would harm us. Often they are oblivious, we don’t even remember that they existed when we were little. Because this danger was so great that our child’s mind could handle it, this defense became very rigid. Defense was useful in the context of danger and / or previous trauma, but today it is not always.

      Scrolling occurs when the emotions we feel in front of something or someone are too uncomfortable or we just don’t know how to handle them so we move them forward. It’s something like that, they need to get out somewhere and they’re so out of control to put them down, then they become ruminating, hasty, meaningless thoughts. Therefore, working on emotional intelligence will be a very important factor in dealing with these obsessive thoughts.

      In my experience as a psychologist, I have seen that the emotions most associated with obsessive thoughts are four in number: guilt, anger, fear, and emotional pain (or sadness). In addition, there is another clear element in these obsessive thoughts: the feeling of out of control.

      But beware, guilt is cheating. It is a parasitic emotion. A parasitic emotion is one that covers other genuine emotions that are trying to get out of it, such as anger, rage, or emotional pain. And why is he there? Because it was useful when we were little, in our family or at school.


        I’ll give you some examples.

        When I was little, my mom always told me I was a bad girl when I got angry, so I learned to feel guilty every time I tried to express a need or put up a problem. limit. As no one saw and validated my emotion, I started to think to myself: did I do it wrong? Will I be guilty? Why is my mother like this? Why do I imagine them dead? (because you express anger by “killing” them in your fantasy).

        However, when I was a child, my mother was always hospitalized because of cardiovascular disease. Nobody explained it to me, my father pretended nothing had happened and protected me like that, thinking that it would be good. Invisibility of fear and pain fact the only way to keep it up was possible explanations because my mom suddenly disappeared: where did she go? Is it going to be okay? Will I be okay? Will the same thing happen to me as to her? Will I have the same heart disease? Is it wrong to explain how I feel when my dad tries to hide it? (guilt over fear).

        Also, when I was little and angry, my parents punished me and stopped talking to me for two days. I was also punished by looking at the wall. My anger and fear of being arrested turned into the following obsessive thoughts: Why are they doing this to me? Will I be rejected if I get angry again? Would it have been wrong to show them my needs? Will I be stupid? (inner guilt and anger because they cannot be expressed outwardly) Have I been that bad? Do I have to die for being so bad? (And, as an adult, will my partner be coming home already? Will he be unfaithful to me? Does my life have any meaning? Why don’t I die?).

        I can’t forget when my family always talked about the quality of my sister’s clothes. Even though my mom’s nose was ugly, my dad always did it. My mom would sometimes tell me why she didn’t buy me other clothes, which would make me feel better. Seeing his diet very occasionally made me nervous, I saw the pain with the whole weight issue and his body.

        Corn nobody spoke about it at home. Even though they didn’t say anything “direct” to me or my physique, I started to worry. It was even worse when they started calling me a pig at school with my nose slightly raised. Little by little, as a child, I started to think that I was not well inside or outside. So I started to think: am I ugly? Should I lose weight? Will I be a weird beast? Should I operate on my nose? Are my friends prettier than me? Does it make sense for someone like me to be in this life? (guilt and emotional pain).

          Characteristics of obsessive thoughts

          Obsessive thoughts, therefore, They are often triggered by situations in which we use the repression of emotions such as fear, anger or emotional pain.. And then they move.

          We learn to do this in childhood. There may or may not be a parasitic culprit component, as I explained. Sometimes a thought or a chain of thoughts just hides one emotion without parasites, or several emotions together.

          However, there are times when these thoughts have no external trigger (discussion with someone, illness, pain or event) but can be internal. Suddenly, a traumatic memory is activated with very intense emotions that my inner world cannot handle (anger, fear, pain…) and then, all of a sudden, I can’t stop thinking. One example is the containment we experienced during the first wave of COVID. Why have so many people asked for psychological help again? Because just being isolated gives them more time to spend time with themselves and connect with their inner world.

          By making this connection and stopping, old memories long erased (when I was bullied at school, when my parents beat me, when my pup died poden) can come to me. the mind, and activate obsessive mechanisms that are difficult to eradicate.

          These obsessions can make us think about death, about COVID disproportionately, about the terrible situation that can be in the future, in our body, in death … When in reality what is happening is that, far from worrying and obsessing. something real, what’s underneath that we’re covering up are emotions that need to be dealt with.

          What factors can provoke the development of these thoughts obsessive?

          These are the main things that can contribute to the emergence or trigger obsessive thoughts.

          • Frightened couples in general. Fear of the future, of physical or mental illness, etc.
          • Hypochondriac parents. Focused on concerns about disease issues.
          • Negative parents. They think in a catastrophic and desperate way all the time.
          • Parents who find it difficult to regulate their emotions. They are very mental, rational, focused on solutions and not so much on emotions
          • Parents perfectionists. Everything must be mastered, perfect, ideal. There is no room for emotions, there is room for what they will say (a lot of importance apparently) and non-vulnerability, because it is considered bad and embarrassing. Therefore, there is a fear of very internalized rejection.
          • Parents who play with emotional manipulation, victimization and blackmail. Something like, “Girl, how angry you are, often out of character. With everything I do for you. You can’t tell me, how much you make me suffer. “
          • Personality structure predisposing to the obsessional. Everyone has a personality and may be more or less likely to develop obsessive thoughts.
          • Traumatic events for which the brain cannot find any rational explanation, let alone process the experience emotionally. There is an obvious lack of control for the individual. Examples are accidents, abuse, neglect, loss or death, bullying, etc.

          How to cure obsessive thoughts?

          He accepts that this is a defense which in some contexts may not be useful.

          Returning something carefully to make the best decision can help, there is a rational and emotional benefit, but this isn’t always the case. So identify at what age or in what environment you started to develop this obsessive defense of not coming into contact with your emotions.

          1. Close your eyes and locate the emotion in your body.

          Name it, then shape, structure, color … To breathe. Notice it in your body. So until it decreases or increases. The excitement will pass.

            2. Is it anger, fear or pain…?

            Depending on the emotion, there will be a different message and action. If we are angry, it will cause us to put limits on or move away from the person or situation that hurt us. If it’s fear, we need to protect ourselves. If it is pain, we will have to cry alone or with others.

            3. Is it an emotion from the present, from the past, or both?

            Sometimes a discussion with someone makes us angry because we don’t understand where it is coming from. Maybe what this person told me reminded me of what someone else said (mom, dad, cousin, school…) who assaulted me when I was little. Other times, like the waves of the COVID virus, they can rekindle the fear I felt when I was little when my mom had anxiety attacks.

            4. Do what the emotion asks of you in the present as long as it does not respond to the past.

            For example, I can set limits someone who insulted me but didn’t get outrageously mad at someone for the simple fact that it reminds me of someone from my past who did something wrong to me. In this case, I will have to undergo therapy to heal my past.

            Same thing with fear; if there is a virus like the one that produces COVID, it is obvious that from there it is functional to be afraid. And I have to protect myself with a mask, with vaccines… but yes if I am afraid every time my chest hurts thinking that I have cardiovascular disease and that it is not real, I cannot not act with fear, if I don’t breathe it, support it and turn my past into therapy.

            5. Don’t focus on obsessive thinking

            Accept it and understand it as a defense of the past that is not always useful and focuses on emotion. If we let ourselves get carried away by an obsessive thought, we will only strengthen this defense. You’re also not doing coercion, which is something that takes the angst out of that obsessive thought.

            For example, if you have chest pain and think you are having a heart attack all the time, don’t look the internet for information, don’t see a doctor or loved one… just exhibit that emotion of fear by closing your eyes. and breathing. Next, ask yourself if this emotion was triggered by a present trigger or by a trauma from the past related to hypochondria, as in this case.

            Isaac Diaz Oliván


            Verified professional


            Online therapy

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            In short, he believes that emotions heard, processed, and emotionally regulated are the same as obsessive thoughts eradicated. However, dealing with entrenched emotions from the past related to painful memories will require a psychotherapeutic process by a trauma specialist.

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