Learn how to cope with intrusive thoughts as a mom. Intrusive thoughts are unwelcomed images and thoughts that pop into your head without warning. You are, in fact, not crazy – not alone – and not a bad person. Learn all about how to deal with intrusive thoughts here.
My first intrusive thought was so traumatizing that I can still relive it today.
I was cooking pasta when my son, who was only about 5 days old at the time, began to fuss. I ran to pick him up and rock him in the kitchen.
Suddenly, my mind went down a very uninvited path on it’s own. Warning: it’s a gruesome.
“What if I tripped and my son flew out of my arms onto the stove fire?”
My tired mom brain forced graphic images of this into my head. I instinctively began squinting my eyes tightly and shaking my head, as to scramble the thoughts and shake them out.
When that didn’t work, I sprinted out of the room very carefully cradling my son so that he didn’t slip out and fly (against gravity) towards the stove.
These strange, unwelcomed thoughts continued to drive themselves into my mind at random times afterwards.
Was I losing my mind?
What are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are, well, just that. Unwelcomed thoughts that force themselves into your mind and make you feel uncomfortable.
While you may feel that you are alone, research shows that a whopping 70 to 100% of humans (especially new moms) experience intrusive thoughts at some point.
It is thought that intrusive thoughts, though sometimes disturbing, do have a purpose and a history.
Picture cave Mom Sally walking by a forest with her babies. An intrusive thought of a sabretooth tiger leaping from the woods may have urged her to walk in a different direction.
Today, these intrusive thoughts in moms can still serve a purpose. For example, if you are pushing your child in a stroller near a busy street, you may have an intrusive thought of the stroller drifting into traffic. This may cause you to hold on a little tighter.
However, in the majority of these cases, these thoughts are only disturbing and make us feel like terrible mothers.
5 Ways to Manage Intrusive Thoughts as a Mom
While intrusive thoughts as a mom are often very uncomfortable, it is important to realize that there is something you can do to cope.
These simple tips will help you identify and manage these uninvited thoughts and mental images.
1) Label the Thought as Intrusive
Identifying intrusive thoughts is the first step in managing them.
These are not destined to happen – you are not psychic. Nor are you a disturbed person.
If a particular thought is unusual for you, bothersome, and hard to control, you can label it as an intrusive thought.
Tell yourself, “there is not something wrong with me – that was just an intrusive thought.”
2) Don’t Judge Yourself
Remind yourself that almost 100% of humans experience intrusive thoughts from time to time.
You are not crazy or deranged. And you are not a bad mom for having these thoughts.
This is a natural part of life and motherhood.
3) Separate Reality from Fiction
If you are having intrusive thoughts as a mom, the next step is to take a quick moment to focus on the facts.
For example, when I was holding my baby in the kitchen, was it possible for him to fly 10 feet out of my arms onto the stove? What were the chances that I would trip on something?
Logically speaking, this was not probable- and actually nearly impossible – based on my kitchen.
While intrusive thoughts can remind us to be careful, they are rarely based in logic and taking a moment to think through it can help.
4) Schedule Some YOU Time
When mothers are tired and drained, anxiety and unwelcomed thoughts are at an all-time high.
Make sure you are getting enough rest and taking some time to focus on yourself.
Here are some creative ways to relax and recharge:
- Focus on the hear and now with these mindfulness activities for moms.
- Try these self-love journal prompts which are proven to reduce stress, help you process emotions, and even improve physical health.
- Meditate with these relaxing visualization scripts
- Prioritize resting with these tips
You may also like: Inspirational Quotes for Moms
5)Talk to Someone, Anyone
Call up a friend or a family member you trust to talk to them about how you feel.
There is a great chance they know how you feel, and hearing their experience can help you.
Additionally, there are great forums and private Facebook groups (just search “Intrusive Thoughts”) that can help you listen to others who experience intrusive thoughts as a mom.
In some circumstances, you may want to reach out to a healthcare professional for assistance. Also, If you feel like acting on your intrusive thoughts them in a way that could cause harm to yourself or someone else, get medical help right away. Learn more about postpartum OCD here, too.
Also read: Stop Seeing Rest as an Act of Laziness
Final Thoughts on Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts as a Mom
The bad news is – you will experience intrusive thoughts at some point in your life.
The good news is – you now know what they are, how incredibly common they are, and manage them.
When you have intrusive thoughts, try these 5 tips and remember this: The simple fact that you worry about being a good mom is the best indicator that you are already one.
Also read: Sensory Overload is Common in Parents, too!