You are not your thoughts.

Updated: Jan 28

When you suffer with mental illness, our minds go a million miles an hour and it’s hard to get a grip of it, make sense of it and to ignore the unhelpful chatter we so often are bombarded with.

We get hundreds of thousands of thoughts a day, most are subconscious and out of our control, a large part of them we won’t remember and only some are our true inner voice. It can be hard to differentiate between them, knowing which thoughts are yours and which aren’t can cause a lot of distress and anxiousness. With my OCD I get caught in this battle nearly every second, trying to fight back against the intrusive ones that aren’t under my control.

This is where it’s important to look to our impartial spectator. I read about this concept in an OCD self help book and it is basically our inner voice of reason, an external outsiders point of view which provides a rational perspective on our situation and circumstances. Some people imagine this to be themselves, others find it helpful to think of it as a friend/family member/professional or just someone entirely fictional. The point of the impartial spectator is to not get lost in your thoughts and to try and rationalise them as they happen. Looking in from the outside and asking yourself questions like “what would I tell someone in my position right now?” Ive had many “outer body experiences” during my OCD struggles where I imagine looking at myself as I’m stuck doing a ritual or getting caught up in my head and realising how silly and illogical it must look and be.

The most important aspect of all of this is to become and remain detached from our thoughts. They come and go and remembering crucially that most are nothing to do with who we are or what we want. The majority sprout up from anxiety and show us the exact opposite of the truth in order to get us to respond in unhealthy ways and continue the cycle we’re trapped in. We must fight back, but not by resisting. We must allow these thoughts to simply pass through us, knowing they’re completely separate from who we are.

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