In this follow up to my last episode, “Intrusive Thoughts,” I go into more depth as to how to navigate the thoughts that seem to take over and rob you of your peace.
I share two points that will help you gain some traction and direction the next time an intrusive thought shows up.
Point one is about how intrusive thoughts can keep us stuck in the past rather than seeing what is in front of us. I also talk about how sometimes staying in this space can keep us from our own growth and development.
Point two is about allowing the thoughts that come up to show us what we need to do to close “open loops” in our mind. This part is about leaning into the things we need to be looking at to set down the thoughts that keep showing up.
Don’t miss this episode, as you will leave with even more direction and actionable steps to take that will help you quiet your mind and move forward.
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I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast:
episode number 125, Intrusive Thoughts Part 2.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently living, but
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to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off.
Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea
Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello everybody. I’m back today with more about intrusive thoughts. Before
I dive into what I’m going to cover today, I just want to remind you that
the doors are open literally just for a few more days before we begin my
new program, Get Your Life Back After Infidelity. It begins on September
25th. So if you are listening to this on the day that it comes out, and you
are still interested in joining, you can go to the show notes, click on the
link to schedule a call with me, and we’ll see if we can get you going.
Okay, let’s go. Intrusive thoughts, part two.
After I recorded the last episode, I had some more thoughts and ideas for
you that I wanted to share. I know that this topic is one that is just
really difficult. It’s really difficult for most of the people that I work
I get emails, I get messages saying, “I just don’t know how to stop. I
don’t know how to not think about them together. I don’t know how to not
imagine them being together, or where he was and what he was doing.” And
on, and on, and on. And it can go on and on and on, right?
And so I recorded the last one. And since then, I just have more that I’d
like to add in hopes that it will be even more helpful to you. Okay?
There are two main points that I’m going to make today. They both do build
on some of the things that I shared last week, but I’ll be expanding on
Point number one, intrusive thoughts often turn into obsessive thoughts.
Which can turn into ruminating, going round and round and round in our
minds, right? Stopping the ruminating and obsessing requires the betrayed
partner to get out of the past and into the present.
Intrusive thoughts often present as thoughts that go round and round in our
brain, that we can get trapped in. And they’re often focused on things that
happened or didn’t happen, memories, worries, and fears.
If you look at the last time you had an intrusive thought, my guess is that
it had to do with something in your past. This is not to say it can’t be
useful to go to those places. Sometimes it is, but not always.
When we stay in a place of rumination and don’t step into the present and
take bold actions, which we’ll talk about in a bit, but just feel like the
vicious cycle will never end and nothing ever changes, it also halts our
own development. I’m going to expand on that as well.
It halts our development. It keeps our focus on the other person, rather
than giving ourselves the love and attention that we deserve. And it also
takes the focus off of what we need to actually heal. Okay?
When we are hanging out with intrusive thoughts, we’re internalizing a lot
of pain. We’re keeping a lot of pain inside. And often when we keep it
inside, it festers. It’s ripe ground for festering. Okay? My second point
is that sometimes the intrusive thoughts come up to show us open loops that
need to be closed. I’m going to give you an example.
I love what I do, and I am dedicated to grow always, to be an expert, to be
the best at what I do, or one of the best, to really know what I’m talking
about so I can bring my listeners and clients the best.
In this, I am constantly pushing my own education and growth so I can bring
you cutting edge information, high level coaching, pushing myself to show
up for you as the best version of me. I often put myself in rooms where I
can learn from other people in the field, who maybe have been practicing
for 20 years, or who have an angle on different things that I want to learn
And in a recent training I participated in, I learned from somebody named
Ellen Bader, and I’m going to be talking more about her work soon. Ellen is
a long, longtime therapist that trains other therapists and coaches. And
she has a lot of expertise around infidelity.
So I have been studying with her. And in this training that I did with her,
she showed us a session where she was coaching another couple. And this
couple had a situation where the husband had been having an affair for
four-and-a-half years with their nanny.
She talked with the wife, and then she talked with the husband and she
asked the wife what was on her mind. What do you want to know? And she
talked about how she just cannot stop thinking about it.
And she said, “Thinking about what?”
And she said, “I want to know,” And then she listed off all these things,
rapid fire of what she wants to know.
And then Ellen said, “Okay, pick one thing. What do you want to know?
What’s one thing you really want to know?”
And one of the things she mentioned was that she wanted to know if her
husband had been intimate with the nanny while the nanny was supposed to be
watching their children, and the children were at the home.
When she mentioned these things to Ellen, the husband just sat there
silently. You could tell he was very uncomfortable, as you can imagine.
Then she said to the woman, “I want you to ask your husband that one
question.” So up until this point, this woman had been allowing these
thoughts to just run the show. Very intrusive, very loud, lots of
And she said, “Right now I want you to turn to him, and I want you to ask
And so her asking, of course, brought this tension, right? And you could
see the husband’s hands fidgeting, and you could kind of tell by his body
language what the answer was going to be. And she directly asked, and then
he sat there fidgeting for a while, and then he finally said yes.
And anyway, what happened in this example is that she had been letting
those questions rob her peace. Completely rob her peace. And she was able
to take that internal rumination and externalize it, put it outside her.
Put that energy outside her by asking very clear, direct questions. A
question, which she then got an answer to right there in the session.
Now, you might ask, why didn’t she ask before? There’s a lot of reasons why
she possibly might not have asked before. One, she may have been afraid of
the answer. She might’ve been afraid of the answer because of the emotion
that inevitably would come up when she heard the answer. That might have
seemed very scary.
She may have kind of tiptoed around it like, you probably did this or that,
you probably did that, without being direct about it. Because sometimes we
don’t trust ourselves enough to ask in a really direct, powerful way
without emotionally falling apart.
Sometimes we’re dealing with somebody who, when we do ask direct questions,
they fall apart. Or get really defensive, aggressive, or turn to shame.
Oh, I’m just a loser, right? I’m such a terrible person. And you don’t get
an answer from them anyway, right? Some of us are very highly
conflict-avoidant, and don’t like the tension that arises when we talk about
infidelity, so we’d rather just avoid it.
But avoiding the questions was creating all kinds of chaos and pain for
her, as well as a lack of information. She was missing this information.
She didn’t know a lot of things.
Her own development, I mentioned before about how sometimes staying in
intrusive thoughts can stunt our own development. And she was able to
develop and grow in this situation by managing her own anxieties and fears
around asking first and hearing the truth.
She then had new information that could help her make clearer decisions
moving forward by first learning to not run from the inevitable discomfort
of bringing it up.
In early stages after the discovery of infidelity, we might want to hurry
and rush past this part. In reality, it can be too soon to really step
fully into the present and get out of intrusive thoughts. There’s still new
information to be gathered at the beginning. There’s still data to collect.
You’re still getting your bearings, and still processing some pretty
But you can still use those emotions and questions to drive forward the
things that you need to know.
Sometimes you can feel intense, intense anger. And that anger can sometimes
drive us forward to have the courage to ask the questions. And then the
questions you have can serve as a roadmap toward you having a more complete
understanding of what happened, so you can make the most wise decision
Now, when is it time to practice discipline and actively step into the
present and choose not to allow your thoughts to run wild?
For one, if you already have a lot of data, but your mind always is going
to wanting to check his phone, wanting to go look on the computer in the
middle of the night, Ellen Bader calls this pain shopping.
This happens when you want to remind yourself of how hurt you are, how much
damage was done, how much you can’t trust him, et cetera. It can involve
searching for more texts or images to remind yourself how hurt you are, and
how awful they are. There’s nothing good that comes from going down this
path. It just leads to your own suffering.
Unfortunately, some of this involves trial and error. For example, you may
notice patterns within yourself where you have a certain thought pop in
your head, and then you start really ruminating on that thought. It gets
more and more uncomfortable, you find yourself in a rage. You’re just so
upset. And in the end, it takes a couple days for you to kind of metabolize
all of that intense emotion and get back to a baseline.
But at the end of it all, you can look back and go, okay, when I follow
that pattern, it never leads me anywhere good. It always takes me down.
Nothing good comes from it. I need to try something else next time. And you
can just get wiser and know for yourself which thought processes are dead
ends, and then you can decide to go somewhere else with your thoughts.
To wrap this up, intrusive thoughts can become obsessive thoughts. Stopping
obsessing requires getting out of the past and into what is actually
happening. Sometimes we do need to look at the past. Sometimes we need to
get information from the past. But once we have that information, we need to
stay in what is true today. What is true now.
Looking at what is and asking for the details that will help you to know
what is. It requires looking deeper into yourself, and getting better at
asking good questions of yourself first. What am I trying to find out here?
When I have that information, how will it be useful to me? How do I think
I’ll feel when I have that information?
When you do address what the thoughts are about, closing those open loops
require digging deep and looking at what data is missing. Or letting go of
the things that you will never know.
There will be some things that you will never know. And part of easing the
anxiety around intrusive thoughts, and part of the development here, the
personal development is growing your ability and tolerance to some
ambiguity. Meaning there is going to be some gray area here. Some things
that you will never have a very, very clear picture of.
Because you weren’t there. You weren’t there. You might have texts, you
might have pictures, you might have the things that you’re being told about
it. But in reality, you were not privy to every conversation, to every
interaction, to every meeting. And you can make yourself crazy trying to go
there in your mind and piece those things together.
That once you have a full enough picture of what happened, the depth of it,
the lengths that he may have gone to lie to you. When you have a better
idea of that, then you will have enough to kind of set down those things
that are more gray. And the more that you can grow your tolerance to that,
the more you’ll be able to move forward.
And sometimes, my friends, it may be coming to terms that you may be with
someone who has no intention of being fully honest with you. And that it
may be best not to stay with them. That is the case for some. That was the
case for me in my first marriage. That’s why I left, because it was a dead
end. He was not interested in being truthful with me.
I want to remind you, my friends, that you have power here. And I invite
you to use it. You are not a victim to these powerful thoughts that seem to
take over you. You are the boss. You are the boss. You’re the boss of your
own mind. You can turn this around. You’ve got this. Okay?
I hope that you found this episode useful. If you found it useful, I invite
you to go into wherever you listen to this podcast to be sure to leave a
review. Takes about one to two minutes. It sure means the world to me. And
I will see you next time. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
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