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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Aubin, LCSW

The Gift Of Intrusive Thoughts

The wisest among us will say that there is a gift in everything and that even the worst tragedies can be our greatest teachers. I find this fact of life very sad, and sometimes, I can feel angry about it. Why does life give me the capacity to love my children beyond measure while also making it possible for them to die, become ill, and get into an accident? If I sit with this question for a while, I realize that despite my wish to have absolute certainty that nothing bad will happen to those I love (impossible, I know), the fact that something bad can happen to them is a stark reminder to be present.

So why would a person ever write that intrusive thoughts are gifts? They are annoying, sometimes agonizing, and anxiety provoking to say the least. What about that is a gift?

After I had my first child, I was already well-versed in intrusive thoughts so I wasn't too fazed when they came waltzing in with all sorts of worst-case scenarios of bad things happening to my baby. I did get curious about them and began to pay attention to what they were trying to tell me. They were telling me that I loved my baby and I was terrified of losing her because life was unpredictable and out of my control. And it is terrifying to love anyone. At any moment, they can be taken away.

So what is the gift in this realization? If life can stop at any time, I need to be here and present for as much of it as possible. I want to drink in all these moments with my children because I don't know when I won't be able to anymore. This is the gift. This is what these intrusive thoughts are trying to teach us.

The point is not to run away from the uncomfortable realizations that these thoughts provoke. The point is to feel these feelings, acknowledge them, sit with them, and then use their teachings to motivate you to live better. To do what matters to you. To live life in accordance with your values.

If you are looking for certainty, you will not find it here. All I teach is how to live with uncertainty and still find joy and meaning in your life. To open yourself to the full experience of life and let it all in, the pain, love, fear, anxiety... and to be receptive to the lessons life is trying to teach you.

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