Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: The Skill of Cognitive Defusion

Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: The Skill of Cognitive Defusion

Taming Intrusive Thoughts: The Power of Cognitive Defusion

We all experience intrusive thoughts from time to time, but for some of us, these unwelcome and often distressing thoughts can become overwhelming. [2] Learning how to manage them is essential for our mental well-being; this is where Cognitive Defusion comes in. [3] By understanding the skill of Cognitive Defusion, we can gain insight into why we have intrusive thoughts and overthinking and learn effective techniques to cope better. [1] In this article, let’s explore what Intrusive Thoughts are, what Cognitive Defusion is, and how it can help you manage your intrusive thoughts.

What are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted and often disturbing mental images or ideas that can cause distress. They can range from mild to severe and may be related to any topic or situation. Intrusive thoughts can take many forms, such as worrying about the future, ruminating on past events, feeling overwhelmed by a current situation, or even having violent fantasies.

These thoughts can be so strong that they interfere with everyday life and activities. People experiencing intrusive thoughts may be unable to concentrate on tasks due to their intensity and frequency. Sometimes, these intrusive thoughts may lead to anxiety or depression if not addressed properly.

Intrusive thoughts are common among people of all ages and backgrounds; however, certain factors, such as stress levels or underlying mental health issues, may increase the likelihood of experiencing them more frequently. It is important for individuals who experience frequent and overwhelming intrusive thoughts to seek help from a qualified professional to learn how to manage them effectively.

Fortunately, there are strategies available for managing intrusive thoughts, which include cognitive defusion techniques such as mindfulness meditation and thought-stopping exercises. These allow individuals greater control over their thought processes when faced with difficult situations or overwhelming emotions. With the help of these techniques, individuals can learn better to manage their intrusive thoughts effectively.

What is Cognitive Defusion?

Cognitive defusion is a skill used to help individuals better manage intrusive thoughts and overthinking. It involves recognizing the thought as just a thought rather than taking it as an absolute truth or reality. This helps to reduce the power of thought and allows for more rational thinking and decision-making.

For example, if someone has an intrusive thought that they are not good enough, cognitive defusion would involve recognizing this is a thought rather than believing it to be true. Doing so allows one to gain perspective on their situation and make decisions based on facts instead of feelings.

Cognitive defusion also involves accepting thoughts without judgment or trying to change them in any way. Instead of fighting against negative thoughts or attempting to push them away, one should acknowledge them without reacting emotionally or engaging with them further. This can help create space between oneself and their thoughts, leading to greater clarity when deciding how best to proceed in life situations.

Another important aspect of cognitive defusion is observing one’s thoughts objectively from a distance instead of getting caught up in rumination or worrying about what might happen next. This technique encourages people to take notice of their mental processes without becoming overwhelmed, allowing for greater insight into why certain patterns may exist within themselves while providing opportunities for growth through self-reflection and understanding why certain behaviors occur in different contexts.

How Can Cognitive Defusion Help with Intrusive Thoughts?

Cognitive defusion is a powerful tool for managing intrusive thoughts. It helps individuals become aware of their thoughts without getting caught up in them or believing them as true. This can be especially helpful when dealing with intrusive, negative thoughts that may arise from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

By practicing cognitive defusion techniques, people can learn to observe their thoughts objectively and not get too emotionally attached to them. For example, instead of ruminating on the thought “I’m not good enough” and allowing it to affect your mood and behavior, you could practice cognitive defusion by saying something like “there’s a thought I have that says I’m not good enough; however this doesn’t mean it’s true.”

This self-talk allows us to step back from our thoughts and gain some perspective on them rather than being consumed by them. We can then choose how we want to respond instead of letting our emotions take over. Cognitive defusion teaches us how to let go of unhelpful thinking patterns so they don’t control our lives anymore.

Another way cognitive defusion can help with intrusive thoughts is through mindfulness meditation, focusing on the breath or body sensations while observing any arising thoughts without judgment or attachment. By doing this regularly, we can develop greater awareness about our thinking processes, enabling us to manage difficult situations in life better and more effectively and make healthier decisions overall.

Practicing Cognitive Defusion

Practicing cognitive defusion is a powerful tool for managing intrusive thoughts. This can be done through mindfulness techniques such as meditation, journaling, or talking with a therapist or coach specializing in cognitive defusion techniques.

Meditation is an effective way to practice cognitive defusion. Regular meditation allows you to observe your thoughts without judgment and recognize when they are unhelpful or untrue. You can also use guided meditations specifically designed to help you become more aware of your thought patterns and gain control over them.

Journaling is another great way to practice cognitive defusion by writing down intrusive thoughts that come into your mind and examining how they make you feel. Writing out these thoughts helps you become more aware of the patterns influencing how you think about yourself and others, allowing you to take steps toward changing those patterns if necessary.

Talking with a therapist or coach specializing in cognitive defusion techniques can also be beneficial for learning how to manage intrusive thoughts effectively. A trained professional can guide specific strategies for recognizing negative thought patterns and replacing them with healthier ones that lead to greater emotional well-being overall.


Intrusive thoughts and overthinking can be difficult to manage. However, Cognitive Defusion is a skill that can help individuals better manage these unwanted and often disturbing thoughts. By understanding what Cognitive Defusion is and how it works, practicing the techniques regularly, and being mindful of your thoughts, you can begin to take control of your intrusive thoughts and overthinking. With the skill of cognitive defusion in hand, you will be able to move forward with greater clarity towards achieving personal success.

Thought-stopping exercises are ways to change the channel on reoccurring negative thoughts.

Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: The Skill of Cognitive Defusion


[1] “Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: The Skill of Cognitive Defusion 20/30 Watch on Intrusive Thoughts You have a million thoughts a day, but you don’t even notice them. You just believe them. We swim through our thoughts like a fish swims through water. We don’t even notice that the way we think colors our view of the world.” Source:

[2] “1094194856. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that seem to come from nowhere. They can be disturbing and unpleasant. A person usually feels unable to control these thoughts and may find …” Source:

[3] “Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: The Skill of Cognitive Defusion 20/30 Therapy in a Nutshell 1.17M subscribers Subscribe 3.8M views one year ago How to Process Your Emotions- Learn to…” Source: