Random Distressing Thoughts
While a mental health counselor outside the Washington, DC area for a number of years, every once in a while I would have clients contact me about something which arbitrarily disturbed them. Specifically, these clients were disturbed about the random distressing thoughts they would occasionally experience.
I always found these conversations to be fascinating. Behaviorally, these clients were not in distress in any way. They were not addicted to any behavior or substance, they were meeting all of their career and family obligations. They appeared to have well adjusted, mentally healthy lives. In fact, from any casual observer’s perspective, many of them appeared to be living an ideal life.
However, these clients would come to see me because they were very anxious. They were worried about these random distressing thoughts. For every client, these upsetting thoughts were a little different. For some, it was having random thoughts about wishing their kids (or parents) were dead.
For others, it was having random thoughts of suicide or homicide. Now, none of these clients wanted to commit any of these actions or even wish these scenarios would come true. These thoughts tended to be very random and did not occur in response to any specific incident or event.
Still, just having these terrible thoughts they felt was wrong and therefore there was something wrong with them. I have come to realize though we ALL have random distressing thoughts. Some of these are simply more disturbing than others. Ultimately though they are just thoughts…nothing more.
This reminds me of Carl Jung and his concept of The Shadow self. For Jung, we all have a shadow self, that part of us we prefer to deny or repress. Sometimes though, that repressed shadow bubbles to the surface randomly, before we can shove it back down. It can be a very scary experience if we are not prepared for it.
As someone who is interested in building psychological resilience, I find this is great material to work with and use. Those thoughts, no matter how distressing they may appear though are really nothing more than impressions. These impressions can be ignored completely or used as an invitation to explore something which we may be repressing. Either way, it does not mean we are evil or immoral people. If you feel the need to want to explore such random brain fog in your own life, feel free to contact me and we’ll talk. If you have such thoughts, how often do you experience such notions?
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