There’s something I’ve been seeing around lately. Something I’ve been seeing a lot—enough that I feel it’s important to bring up. It’s something I don’t think I’ve ever seen addressed anywhere and I’m not sure why—maybe many people are struggling with this and they just don’t know what to do. Maybe because everyone addresses it with the wrong advice—I have seen that before.
I’ve seen lots of people struggling with their thoughts. To the point where they’re afraid of them, afraid of themselves, and afraid of being a bad person, when in reality they’re far from bad. Every unusual, scary or violent thought has a fear attached to it. In a way this is normal, but it often goes way too far and people start repressing their thoughts and fearing their own mind. It’s not a happy place to be in- and despite what you think it isn’t making you a better person. It’s making you a ball of anxiety. People get stuck thinking this way and it just spirals down. They fear every bad thought that comes their way. They think this fear will keep them from doing something wrong. The truth is it doesn’t. We all mess up and do things we regret later, fear or no fear. This is a scary thing for people who think like this to realize, because they worry if they mess up it’ll be a disaster. It won’t. You might make a mess of things every now and then, but everyone does that, and things are still okay, and the world is still turning. People need to realize that making mistakes is okay, and above all they need to realize that thinking dark things is okay. That dark thoughts aren’t something you should paralyze yourself in fear over. Everyone thinks dark thoughts. It’s completely normal and natural, and there’s a huge difference between not acting on these thoughts and fearing them so much that you try to repress them, and when they reoccur, react by fearing yourself.
There is a difference between fantasy and reality. Fantasy stays in your head, away from the outside world and away from being influential over anyone or anything. This area is basically a free zone where you can think whatever you want without fear of hurting anyone else, because there it is nothing more than imagination. This area of your mind shouldn’t be restricted. Yet many people do restrict it because they fear it’ll leak into reality. But it won’t- not unless you want it to, not unless you give it that power. The best way to keep yourself from doing something dangerous is realizing that completely going crazy and losing it is really unlikely- especially if you have enough conviction not to do something that you actively fear it. Look at these dark thoughts instead of trying to hide them. Look for reoccurring themes, patterns, look at them like you look at your other thoughts. With time you’ll realize that some thoughts just sort of happen. They bounce around your head and don’t do anything other than exist in your mind. Without action these thoughts are as harmless as thinking about fluffy puppies. They can even be creative, and some people release these thoughts in stories and art. Like those authors who violently kill off characters but in reality are perfectly lovely people. Think of these thoughts as story ideas if it helps you accept them. Become comfortable with them and realize that they aren’t going to hurt anyone. That they’re just like all your other thoughts, only a bit weirder. Become comfortable in your morals, in your sense of right and wrong, in your aversion to doing hurtful things. Realize that your desire not to hurt people will stop these thoughts from reaching into reality. If you don’t want to act on something than you won’t. If you fear acting on something when you’re upset and angry, remember you have the ability to stop yourself. Every action is a choice and if you want to you can choose not to act on certain things- even during difficult situations. You can even work on self control if it’ll help you feel better, but be wary of patterns that bring up illogical fear.
There are also things called intrusive thoughts. These are completely normal and many people have them. They’re random thoughts that appear out of nowhere, like “what if I pushed the person next to me into traffic,” “what if I kicked this dog,” “what if I threw my keys into the river?” They’re random out-of-character thoughts that happen out of nowhere, and shouldn’t worry you other than giving you a what the heck moment when one happens. They’re weird, but they’re normal.
Outside of OCD some people also have some obsessions and compulsions. OCD is just what happens when they get out of control. In this mindset of fearing your thoughts, some people may think things like “I have to do this/not do this or someone will get hurt.” “I have to think this/not think this or someone will get hurt.” These thoughts are brought on by fear and going against them and trying to fix these fears won’t end in disaster even if your head is telling you it will. Thoughts like these can be overcome on your own, or with help from a professional. Fears like these are sometimes related to mental illness and if you can’t fix this on your own getting help is a good route to take.
I’ve seen this happening all the time and it makes me really sad. You aren’t scary. You aren’t dangerous. You aren’t wrong. Having “bad” thoughts is part of being human. No one ever only thinks about happy harmless things all the time. Come to terms with yourself- all of yourself, find a constructive outlet for these thoughts, entertain them, write, draw, and realize you won’t hurt anyone for having a normal imagination. Plus the dark side has cookies, so that just makes it even more worth it. Love all of yourself, even the weird dark bits. Once you get over the fear it can actually be quite freeing.