How To Stop Thinking Obsessive Thoughts

OCD Tips

Studies show that approximately 90% of people have intrusive thoughts which elicit repetitive behaviors in them. People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take this behavior to a disruptive and unhealthy level. Their obsessions force them into a series compulsive behaviors as a kind of defensive mechanism against these obsessions.

OCD is a pattern of ritualized behavior used to cope with distressing situations. In the first place, a particular ritual may present relief to the obsessive individual. Eventually, the pattern becomes distressing to the sufferer of OCD, because it disrupts their everyday interactions in life.

If you find yourself thinking obsessive thoughts, there are solutions. The Linden Method is one such solution developed by Charles Linden, who, after 25 years of suffering, cured himself quickly and permanently.

How OCD Begins

Broadly defined, obsessions come to us as repeated images, impulses or thoughts. These make the obsessive person feel negative emotions, the most common being anxiety, stress, revulsion or apprehension.

An inability to “stop” these impulses and thoughts makes the OCD person feel out of control. Though the person realizes on some level their obsession with these thoughts is irrational, they feel the need to develop mechanisms to cope with their negative emotions. These mechanisms tend to become compulsive behavior, which is a kind of ritual which offers short term relief to the sufferer.

Types of Obsessions

Obsessions fall into several broad categories. The most common of these are sexual revulsion, aggressive impulses, feelings of contamination, accidental harm or contamination of others, doubting one’s actions and the need for exactness.

In the case of the sexual revulsion, one may replay upsetting acts from one’s personal sexual history or focus on a disgusting sexual image.

Contamination impulses come from a fear of disease or poisoning, or from the fear of unintentionally contaminating a loved one. A similar obsession involves thoughts of losing control and harming a loved one, such as pushing them into oncoming traffic or crossing the lanes of traffic while driving.

Type of Compulsions

How To Stop Thinking Obsessive ThoughtsIn the case of doubt obsession, one might obsess about leaving the oven on while driving away from the house. This might require the person to return to the house to check on one’s appliances, with an ever-increasing list of perceived dangers.

With the exactness obsession, someone might need to have every item on one’s desk lay along parallel lines. Such people might feel the need to rearrange the shoes in one’s closet, or otherwise demand perfect symmetry of various aspects of their life.

A person may feel the need for constant reassurance, or confess one’s shortcomings to a friend or family member.

Counting numbers or having a preference for certain numbers is another common compulsion. Reading or writing one particular passage is not unusual.

In the case of sexual or religious obsessions, the ritual of repeating prayers or safe words is standard. These safe words might be a mild oath or a sharp curse.

Perhaps the most common compulsion is the need to wash one’s hands or clean one’s home repeatedly. Hoarding a common item is also seen quite often.

All of these compulsions have one purpose in mind: to restore one’s sense of control.

Stopping One’s Obsessive Thoughts

Psychiatrists and psychologists have struggled for decades to figure out the best way to stop obsessive thinking. In the end, one must recognize that irrational thoughts are a part of the human brain. Learning to focus on rational thoughts and disregard the irrational ones is the key to stopping one’s obsessive thoughts.

This is easier said than done, of course. But there are a few methods which seem to work.

1. Confront your obsessions.

Doctors have found that confronting your obsession and desensitizing yourself to it is a good way to end your compulsive behavior. This is treating the cause and not the symptom.

People with OCD understand that their thoughts and actions are irrational. This is one of the distinctions between OCD and a number of other psychological maladies. But the immediate impulse of the person with OCD is to push aside irrational thoughts with equally irrational behavior. This allows them to refocus their mind away from one’s obsession.

But if one instead faces one’s obsession, that person is able to think through the irrational thoughts and impulses. Once a person forcing himself or herself to confront these obsessions, a person tends to become desensitized to them.

In effect, if we can think rationally, an obsession loses its irrational power over us.

Note that it is best to target one’s obsession. But some people are unable to do this entirely. So it becomes a second best option to regulate one’s reaction to obsession.

If you can resist the need to behave compulsively, a person can begin to limit the effects of OCD. This is a half-measure, though.

2. Confront the anxiety over your obsession.

A person may come to believe they are not quite right. It is common for a sufferer of OCD to believe their obsession is degenerative, that it is leading to a dangerous behavior. Someone might have thoughts of doing violence to a loved one, and develop compulsive defense mechanisms in the hopes of avoiding these thoughts.

Anxiety might grow that the person will “give in to” these irrational impulses. This person must be reassured that these thoughts have never led to irrational behavior before. In this way, one can begin to realize that such anxiety is unwarranted.

3. Confront the cognitive process itself.

The human brain is complex. It produces plenty of rational thoughts which allow us to make decisions in life. But the brain also produces irrational thoughts.

It is natural to believe that all thoughts have meaning. This just isn’t the case. For a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is common to give meaning to the our most irrational thoughts. The fact that a person finds obsessive thoughts distressing is actually a good sign, though they tend to think something dark and perhaps unforgivable is at work simply for having the thoughts in the first place.

Allowing our irrational thoughts and impulses to become an obsession is to over analyze oneself. It is quite similar to interpreting one’s dreams as having deep and dark meanings, as opposed to realizing it is the brain jumbling disparate and irrational thoughts with one another.

Our brain is not always trying to tell us something. Once we realize this, stopping one’s obsessive thoughts becomes possible.

If you find yourself still struggling with obsessive thoughts, there is help available. The Linden Method has helped over 136,000 sufferers recover. >> Check it out today.


  1. Creston Fournerat says:

    A couple of months back a few thoughts that went against what I believe and who I am popped into my head. The thoughts range from atheistic (I stand firm in my Christian faith) to suicidal (Even in the most depressing situations I never intend to kill myself) to homosexual (I’m attracted to women and only women, and find something quite wrong with homosexuality) to pedophilic (What is this I don’t even) . I know that the mind randomly generates thoughts and that they mean nothing, and at the very most represent what I hate, but I can’t just let them go uncorrected. I spend almost every second of my life reminding myself of my beliefs, and that in itself becomes distressing. I also seem to have an obsession with the number 4, locking the front door in a certain way, constantly editing my messages on forums until they’re absolutely perfect. Occasionally I say things in my head like “go to the kitchen within 5 seconds or you will die”. All of these things combined have made me extremely depressed and agoraphobic. I don’t know what to do.

  2. Hello my name is paul and my girlfriend has contamination ocd/phobia. Life is hard for us all i do all day is go thro riturals to not git contaminated. What should i do to help her? I have sugested therapy. She gits mad at me and says there are more important things we need to worry about. And we argue all the time. I love her so much.and want to do that. But all day we spend foing simple things. Like shoping. Takes hiurs bc we travle long diatances to certan stors that are not house ia a mess my car is a mess. All bc she feels its contaminited. Even tho its not. Her phobia is of roaches or jusr the germs they carry. But i have never seen one she still says so many things are contaminated.please sumone help us. Its destroring our relationship

  3. I think you guys should see a psychiatrist.

  4. Hi , I was born with OCD :( I would walk backward and forwards shaking my hands
    Rocking backwards and forwards and was horrible at making friends at school .
    I got tested for asbergers and autism and came up negative when I turned 11 I would wash my hands , count, not allowed to step on a crack ect. I would do this because if I didn’t something bad would happen. Then I would think bad thoughts about rape and sexual images and doubt what if I had been raped which I know I havnt and would have to go to my mum to confess. Which of course she would just say to me let it go Amy and that would make me feel better. When I was 13 this all went away and came back i went to a phys for 4 years until I turned 15 when I got a boyfriend and got major depression I wanted to kill myself and would think a bad thought like what if I like that boy instead of my boyfriend and get a panic attack and would have to confess to my boyfriend. I am now 19 and have been in a relationship for 2 years he undrstands everything I think bad thoughts and lately I repetivley bounce on a ball and think about scenarios and feel bad that why if I like this boy in my scenro and will have to confess to my boyfriend and I get really bad sexual images and I don’t want sex just incase I get a bad thought. I wright lists I am a jelous person and a really aggressive one . They think that my OCD has developed into two or three disorders. I can seem to block out all bad thoughts about killing people or something bad is going to happen to my family . I can just block it out. Anything to do with other boys is the problem. And my boyfriend gets sad everytime I get a bad thought please help

  5. I have been with my boyfriend for 2 and a half years. I feel guilty about everything. If a guy passes from near me, I feel like i went close to him on purpose if he turns out to be attractive looking. I keep thinking about situations and dissect them to find why i did that and I shouldnt have done that etc etc.. If a guy asks me a doubt and I lean in closer to have a look at the book, I feel i did something wrong. HURTING MY BOYFRIEND in any way would destroy me. I tell him all this and he is really supportive and he understand but I always feel if i am a committed person or not and if he should be with someone like me… The thought cycles keep going on…. I try to practice breathing exercises to calm my mind..But the anxiety is unbearable sometimes and there is that constant weight on my chest and the fear of losing him and having feelings for some other guy… Please share if you have similar thoughts…

    @gator…I know what u must feel..But m sure ur boyfriend really loves u… because he is feeling guilty about all this and he doesnt want to hurt u..i can understand exactly how he must feel because i go through these emotions too… All he wants is u but his mind tries to convince him otherwise..its the fear of losing u and hurting u… hope i helped…

  6. I do alot of things like this but i’m not sure if i’m ocd or what. I always put the tv on even numbers. I ahve to order everything from least to small andi’m always using my finger to draw random stuff and if i don’t draw it right i have to do it again.I can never finish the last bite of my food.I always do this thing when im cleaning m yroom adn i go and pick up tewn things thne i have to take a 10 minute break and then do it over again!I always am the last one out the door and i lock it then i have to come back 6 times to check and make sure that the dor is locked even thoguh i know it is.I can’t really control these things.I always have to count things .Also i have to make sure i did everything right before i turn stuf in. and i’m always worrying! And i keep unecasary items like i have a shoe boxs full of price atgs and i have a backpack full of candy rappers!!!!!!!!

  7. you should try to empty your mind, that s the only thing I know..

    Just try to think about nothing at all, and eventually you’ll start focussing on other things..

    I hope this will help for anyone,, its very difficult to lose..

    Because if your trying NOT to think about it, you’ll just keep thinking about it..

    Good thing that eventually things will get better

  8. I’ve been suffering with horrible invasive obsessive thoughts for years now. First incident I can recall is when I was a young boy. I was crying, almost hysterically, because I couldn’t stop thinking about my heart beating, and how it beats, etc. Then when I was around 13, I went through a compulsive cleaning and neatness stage. I had to arrange things in a certain way; I mowed the lawn obsessively worrying about the height of the grass. I had to have the house neat and clean all the time, to the point where I couldn’t stop obsessing about it. Sure my parent’s liked the fact I was keeping the house nice, but I was suffering.

    For a while I hadn’t had any problems that I can recall. But recently around the age of 25 things started to get really bad. I’d have these horrid unwanted sexual images about family pop into my head and of course I’d react to it with disgust and fear which made it worse. The more I tried to focus elsewhere the more ingrained it became in my mind. I’ll have to think of a female, e.g. my girlfriend to replace the thought as quickly as possible, and this is my coping ritual, replacing one thought for another. I notice sometimes I’ll even have a verbal tic when that imagery comes to my mind; I’ll say my gf’s name aloud, or kind of mumble/sing something and scratch my head, anything to focus on something else.

    Over the years, I’m now 27, these obsessive thoughts have grown into new obsessions, and it seems they just keep coming now. I recently began obsessing over: people thinking I’m lying when I’m not, focusing on falling asleep and not being able to fall asleep as a result, which in turn leads to an obsession over how my life is going to be negatively effected as a result from a lack of sleep. Obsession that I will not be able to perform sexually, obsession with my physical features such as posture, speech etc. I’ve had some come and go too, like: obesession with death and what happens after death. I was so involved into said thought cycle that as a result I fell into a very deep depression. It seems that the worst thought or topic I could think about gravitates to my mind and it’s not just general worry, it’s obsessive dominating thoughts that trap my mind for days or weeks on the same thing, or many. It’s devastating and agonizing to live through this. In my worst days I thought about suicide every single day. I also felt guilty for no reason, because I didn’t know what was causing it. Once I researched and found out it helped me a lot just to understand that this is a brain disorder that can’t be helped, but managed.

    One thing that helped me tremendously, and I know it will help you too, is The Power of Positive Thinking. I hadn’t realized how negative, depressed and self critical I had become as a result of OCD, and this book helped me boost my self esteem and made me much happier. I still want to see a doctor and get help with this horrible disease, but that book is a great start and has made an incredible improvement in my well being. To those suffering with OCD, you’re not alone and you don’t have to let these thoughts rule your life. There’s other people out here suffering too, as is there are people who aren’t suffering anymore because they got help. Time to start living.

  9. hi chris. i read your post and it seems a bit close to mine. i just want to tell u in a short way my story,im 25 now i live in Lebanon, it all started 8 years ago , unwanted thoughts , i think that my heart has something wrong , i m afraid of catching HIV and Etc… then it developed to obsessive thoughts and irrational thoughts , like if im driving back home, the thought pops up that my home is not where im going its somewhere else, and i dont know why my mind believes this wrong idea, sometimes i feel like im gona do the thought but it i dont do it, i was on Seroxate for 8 years , on and off, maybe 4 years on and 4 years off randomly, now i back with unreal thoughts, i m gona tell you man , i have thoughts that im not human, im animal or i dont know what, i have thoughts that am not living and etc, have u had similar unreal thoughts which make u feel bad and fucked up ??? im afraid that these thoughts are the beginning of something bad , like bipolar and stuff , thank you for sharing back

Speak Your Mind