Fear of developing a Compulsion

by Anna

For the last month I've been dealing with intrusive sexual thoughs. At first I was very scared of them, they made me feel guilty. Now I understand they are nothing to fear and just let them be. For the most part it helps and they don't bother me as much. Today my anxiety level was a bit high and my intrusive thoughts popped in. Suddenly I had this fear that I'd develop a compulsion. That I'd somehow want to touch my genitals. The thought of developing compulsions causes me anxiety.

Obviously like any intrusive thought I can't seem to let this fear go. Just wanted to know, can you develop compulsions by thinking of them on purpose, or is it just my anxiety playing a trick on me?

Comments for Fear of developing a Compulsion

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Nov 19, 2014
re: Fear of developing a Compulsion
by: Susan

Hi Anna,

What you are experiencing are obsessions. The mind just searches out for things that seem out of place and when it does (whether it be an image we feel is inappropriate or a "what if I..." fear) the mind will almost hold it "hostage" and then pick it apart searching how to control it and be sure it does not happen.

It is important that you recognize that people with anxiety and these types of obsessions really overestimate the likelihood of following through on these thoughts. Fact is, if you don't want to do something, you won't.

If someone tells you, "don't think of a black truck"... what will you think of? A black truck, of course! It is the idea that you are trying to stop yourself from thinking of something and by doing so, you are causing yourself to think it.

My advice to you, let the thoughts stay! Let them! They are only thoughts and they won't hurt you. You won't act on them, because you don't want to. Accept the thoughts, let them stay and just remind yourself that the less you care about their existence, the smaller of a threat they will become to you.

It is the loud-mouth scary thoughts are like a stubborn child taking a tantrum that demands your full attention.... Treatment for this is to acknowledge they are there, but don't push it out, accept it, and do not give it anymore power by asking it questions. Your self-talk should be a reflection of what I am telling you --- say, "I realize you are there, it's okay, you can stay, you are just ugly but will never amount to anything."

This really takes a while to work... so be persistent in working your skills. As long as you look for your scary thoughts, you will find them. Just accept them as thoughts.. only thoughts..

For more tips on overcoming obsessive scary thoughts, visit Obsessive Thinking

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