Intrusive thoughts can occur at any time and are just as they sound—intrusive! Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that come out of nowhere, are involuntary, and can be difficult to get rid of. Common examples of intrusive thoughts include wondering if the doors are locked, if the stove or curling iron is turned off, or if people like you.
Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts at some point in their lives. For most people, intrusive thoughts come into their mind and seem to leave almost as quickly as they arrived. They can recognize the presence of the intrusive thought, acknowledge it, and take care of it, whether that’s by cognitively or behaviorally disproving it. They may check to make sure the door is locked and then don’t give the thought any more attention. Or they may simply remind themselves that “of course the door’s locked” and focus their thoughts on other things. For most people, intrusive thoughts are nothing more than a huge annoyance.