Real Talk: Intrusive Thoughts

So, Real Talk.

I watched the latest Sander Sides video. If you read The Snake Cycle (  post I did, you know who Thomas Sanders is, if not, then suffice it to say he’s a YouTuber who makes Inside Out-like videos about life issues.

His latest, as of this date, is one about something called Intrusive Thoughts.

Apparently roughly 2% of the population deals with them, I personally think the number has to be much higher, and that the 2% just are the reported, extreme cases.

Intrusive Thoughts are weird, nonsensical, disturbing, and often violent gruesome or sexual thoughts that seem to come form nowhere, and persistently annoy or bother us, especially when we are stressed or going through a hard time, or feel low on self esteem.

The more you fight them, the worse they seem to get, yet you are horrified that you could even think of these things or think about doing them.

One example form the Sanders Sides was thinking of murdering someone, molesting someone, or eating them. (Ew.)

Now, I have a confession, watching the video my reaction was “So this is more commonly recognized as a problem than I thought.”

I assumed everyone had these thoughts, but that few people saw them as that unusual or problematic, beyond an annoyance.

I still think everyone does have thoughts like this. Is there really a person who’s never thought about killing someone?

Not seriously, but like, pictured it.

IF there is, they have less of a temper than me. I’m betting than you too. We make jokes on shows so often about killing people.

We often say “I’m gonna kill him/her.”

Do we mean it? Not usually. But just that that has become a figurative thing shows how often we have thoughts like that, and we minimize them.

But honestly, that’s not even the worst of these thoughts.

Apparently, some people have them in dreams too. I don’t typically dream them, if I do, I wake up.

I also don’t see my dreams as evidence of my deep desires or serious considerations. To me, a dream is more like the realm where all reason can be off the table for why anything happens. It’s where the  things you worry about can’t be kept at bay with distraction and common sense.

But, I also don’t fine them impossible to resist.

That’s what I want to talk bout.

The conclusion in the video is that you cannot reason your way out of Intrusive Thoughts, you also can’t fight them, you should never check to see if their gone.

It’s true, checking for a thought to be gone is to think it again, that’s only common sense.

They are like moths around a lamp, actually, if you turn the beacon off, they’ll go away, but turn it back on to look for them, and they’ll be back.

Unless it’s to remember where you put something, am I right?

I agree that these methods do not work to fight Intrusive Thoughts, but I do not agree that there is no way  to fight them.

I find Sander’s conclusion to be based on something that I do not agree with. That we can’t control what we think, that there is nothing to turn to besides ourselves when wre are thinking those things, and that thinking those things is okay.

I don’t mean that we should beat ourselves up when those thoughts pop up.

It is also hard to say where the line is. People who have these thoughts continuously can go crazy from it. They can cease to be bothered by the thoughts.

I believe I know why this is, I study character.

When someone has terrible thoughts or desires that beat on them relentlessly, more and more over time, they start to feel like a monster.

When a human being feels like that, they do one of two things. They try to fix it, to change themselves back from it, they may hide it or they may go to someone else (that is better), but they try to do something about it.

Or, they embrace it as a way to not fear themselves. C. S. Lewis mentions this in The Great Divorce, adding that to fear oneself is the last horror.

Imagine Dragons also has done some songs about just this feeling, one is called Monster, I’d say Polaroid is the same thing, toned down to a more relationship oriented version.

I think Intrusive Thoughts break some people, and they embrace them in order to stop fearing them. I doubt most perverts and psychos started off liking those feelings, but they may have given up fighting them so long ago that they only have distant memories as of hating them as a child.

I don’t think we are born enjoying the worst kinds of things, at least not most of us, but if we are not guarded as kids, things can creep in.

As a kid I did things I now know are serious perversions in adults, as a kid, I stopped as I realized it was wrong, I think the fact that I did it unknowingly helped. But I also had better influences.

If someone doesn’t they are likely to give in and end up with weird addictions, fetishes, or worse.

What years of being in Church and reading books about it has taught me is that just about everyone has these dark places in their life, either now, or in the past. I think the devil sneaks in to put us in chains at a young age.

What’s amazing is that none of us seem to realize it’s not just us.

It’s actually sad that humanity is so messed up as a whole, but it’s not, really, so very surprising.

It’s even less surprising that the influence of the Information age has made it easier and more common than ever. We’re exposed tho things by accident, some of us were exposed to them on purpose.

I say this because it does help to find the root of the problem. I’ve retraced a lot of my past problems.

Fear was major factor. To comfort ourselves we develop weird habits.

I really dislike how some shows are portraying this as funny, when it’s a very serious problem, an unhealthy coin mechanism.

Using masturbation as a comfort thing is one common example, even the BIG Bang Theory did it.

How many kids watch that? I know my cousins have.

That’s not even an Intrusive thought, it’s afar too common to be. I doubt the people who do it think about it overmuch. If they do, it’s because of guilt.

Things got a lot better for me once God started removing my fears.

The thing is, Thomas Sanders has been so open about things that bug him, that I can easily draw parallels between my experience and his.

He mentions being afraid of demons and other monsters. That was me once.

I do not think he has seen the connection between this and intrusive thoughts.

Though he did link anxiety with the problem, so he was close.

For some people, it’s an easy leap from “I fear this” to “I fear being like this thing that horrifies me.” And it can be easy to dull the pain of that by embracing it, easier to give up than to keep fighting.

And direct resistance to those thought doe snot work.

But I break with Thomas over saying these thoughts are our own.

I maintain that only thoughts I encourage and welcome are my own. Once I take ownership of them, I say they are okay, because they are part of me.

Even if, like Thomas, I say they are bad thoughts and that I am not completely good because I think them, I am still softening the blow by saying they are mine.

Plus, these thoughts to me are less about how bad I am, and more about how weak I am.

I think Intrusive Thoughts have two, maybe three sources.

1 . A huge contributor is the World. We are exposed to so much messes up stuff by wack jobs who like it because they gave in, that it’s almost an audible voice (sometimes it is audible_ telling us to give in and accept this way of thinking. A siren song of disturbing elements.

You think I’m exaggerating?

Oh no, think about it. 50 Shades of Gray has done a lot to make having kinky tenancies, as they are called, okay. Even sort of cool, in a you-do-you sort of way.

At the very least, they are talked of more even if mostly to say it’s messed up. PEple read it into innocent remarks on shows that are far from endorsing it.

I doubt that one book or movie is solely responsible, but it’s an example of how something can be popularized through such methods. And those thoughts people used to keep to themselves the now feel free to share, not to get help, but to revel in their own disturbing nature.

I see this on reviews of My Little Pony for crying out loud.


2. This will not sound reasonable to a skeptic, but I think the devil is behind plenty of it.

The very nature of intrusive thoughts reminds me of how Lewis portrayed the demonic in his book Perelandra. Pure evil is not rational, because Reason still comes from God, once God has been fully rejected, reason goes with it. Evil just revels in being evil, mindless, directionless, destructive.

Very much like Intrusive Thoughts. We human are rational, so they make us feel sick. But if someone gives up rationality, they cease to be bothered by it. We have plenty of ugly historical examples of this happening.

3. It’s possible that everyone is born with some capacity to fall prey to these thoughts because of our sinful nature. The fact that the thoughts so rarely are appealing at first makes it hard for me to believe it’s a temptation.

Its our fear of them that is the temptation. It’s easy to panic over it. We are weak, we can’t fight it off, so we panic.

But it’s that temptation that then opens to door to temptation to accept it in order to escape the fear. And then what we once found horrifying can become pleasurable.

I hate it as much as you do, but I can’t deny it’s a fact.

I never could resist temptation effectively until I ceased to fear it. My fear made me more likely to give in, if I was already paralyzed, what else could I do.

Fear is like a bully. You do as it says to make it go away and stop punching you, but it only comes back crueler next time.

Which brings me to my solution:

What actually destroys Intrusive Thoughts is…Joy.

I’m not kidding.

Once I began to get more grounded in who I was in Christ, and began to believe my identity was not based in these thoughts and fears, a strange thing happened.

I began to find them pathetic, and funny in a pathetic way.

Like “That’s the best you can do?”

And once I could laugh at them, the power of them disappeared. Even if I had them again, I knew they were ridiculous.

It is not the same as enjoying them. You laugh at these thoughts like you laugh at an angry dog behind a fence. The danger i rendered innocuous by how stupid it is to be threatening you when it can’t even reach you.

But always keeping in mind that if we go in the fence, the danger is real. To laugh at these thoughts is not to accept them. It’s to block them the way a clique blocks outsiders by mocking them. They are not taken seriously enough to be talked to.

Joy takes a while to build up to. But what started it for me was deciding I had to trust God with y thoughts.

And I think Sanders and I differ on this. I hope his method helps him, but I think one day I will be rid of this problem, and I do not think he will unless he looks outside himself.

Well, this was long, but good to talk about, until next time–Natasha.



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