Have you ever had a strange or downright dark thought or fantasy that you can’t seem to get out of your head? Ever wonder what would happen if you walked across the room and slapped your boss in the face in the middle of a meeting? What about being in that same meeting and ripping off their clothes and passionately making out with them, no matter if you’re attracted to them or not?
Taboo thoughts can be exciting, but they can also be worrisome and many people will try to block them out. Here’s the good news; having strange thoughts doesn’t mean that you’re out of control or all that different from others. Here’s the thing: absolutely everyone has wild, strange or disgusting thoughts from time to time. The other piece of good news is that thoughts aren’t the same thing as reality, so keep that in mind before you go turn yourself in at the nearest police precinct. The other thing to keep in mind when you get these unusual inclinations is that repressing these thoughts, or practicing thought suppression doesn’t really work.
But thoughts don’t really equal reality, so no matter how rich and famous your vision board has you becoming, it doesn’t actually work that way. Jack Rachman from the University of British Columbia calls this, “thought-action fusion”, so if you think you’ll lose control, that doesn’t make it reality. Here are 15 disturbing thoughts that many people have, but are actually a lot more common than expected.
15. You Fantasize About Killing Someone
Whether it’s thinking about how you’d get away with your crime, if you could meticulously recreate a kill room à la Dexter, or if you could muster the strength to take on and take out an enemy in a cutthroat way; many of us have been there. While fantasizing about killing is fairly common, it is a red flag indicating that you might be undergoing some extreme psychological stress and are having these thoughts because your coping skills aren’t up to snuff when it comes to dealing with your emotions in a more constructive and healthy way. Also consider this, a large portion of our lives is centred on media, be it video games, TV, or movies, that often showcase violent resolutions to problems with virtually zero consequences. Our brain can then use this type of fantasy to cope with certain stresses. Murder can represent some of our more animal instincts for power that we suppress for laws, ethics, and because killing is wrong.
14. You Have A Strange Urge To Jump Off A Bridge
Have you ever been on a balcony of a very high building, or a bridge and thought about jumping off? This surreal feeling is called the high place phenomenon. Freud believed that some of us have a sort of “death wish” and that some suicides were not a result of depression or sadness, but simply an impulsive action. A team from Florida State University conducted a study where they surveyed over 400 students and asked them questions about urges to jump from high places and suicide, and also looked at these students with respect to their levels of anxiety sensitivity and depression. Over 50 percent of the students said they’d never considered suicide, however they had felt the urge to jump at least once. The study, and its title, suggests that, “An Urge To Jump Affirms An Urge To Live”, and provided the following example, “Imagine a person with high anxiety sensitivity. (They) lean over a ledge of the Grand Canyon. In super fast reaction to (the) physical sensation of anxiety, (the) survival instinct forces her away from the edge. Yet when (they) looks at the ledge, (they) sees it’s sturdy. There was never any danger. The brain tries to process an answer to the question ‘Why did I back up if it was safe?’ A logical answer is that she must have been tempted to jump.”
13. You Think About Spontaneously Making Out With People During Normal Conversations
It’s another boring weekly update meeting and your mind begins to wander. As your director starts talking about pie charts you briefly fantasize about throwing all of the papers off of the conference table and making out with them. What’s wrong with you? You’re in a committed relationship and not even really that attracted to Alex? There’s nothing wrong with you…this is pretty normal. A 2003 study by Spanish psychologists revealed that those with higher levels of openness in terms of their personality also have stronger openness to experience and even to sexuality. Remembering what goes on inside your mind doesn’t necessarily equate to what’s going on in your bedroom, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Those who cheat on their partners have a range of reasons from simple curiosity to revenge.
12. “What If I Took Off All Of My Clothes Right Now?”
Clothing is a man-made concept, as is the shame we feel around nudity. Humans are the only animals who wear clothing, and it is believed this is because humans have constructed, for the most part, a ‘mate for life’ culture. Clothing is believed to reduce the incident or likelihood or temptation towards infidelity, which is why people are taught shame with nudity. Psychologists theorize that humans are not born with this shame, we’re taught it because it allows us to successfully operate in modern human society. Our clothes separate us physically, as well as allowing us to judge one another’s social or financial status and expected behaviours based on what we’re wearing. It’s no wonder sometimes people fantasize about removing these cotton shackles and stripping down completely naked, because it’s freeing!
11. You Imagine Yourself Dying & Think About Your Funeral
Psychologist Pelin Kesebir says that thinking about death and dying is, “very common and natural” so take a deep breath. An obsession over your own or your loved one’s mortality is problematic, but it is completely normal to think about death and dying every now and then. Humans have sophisticated brains, and Keebir explained to Live Science how the human mind, “makes us painfully aware of inevitable mortality, and this awareness clashes with our biologically wired desire for life.” While thoughts of death can be a source of anxiety for some people Kesebir has added that other people may find these thoughts provide a strong sense of clarity and wisdom. Some people even find that it’s important and helpful to think about what people will say at their funeral to help themselves set meaningful and important life goals, focusing on the big picture instead of the moment.
10. You Obsess About Losing Your Mind
Imagination is a great thing, we try to and encourage it in our children, but why do we think there’s something wrong when an adult’s imagination gets the best of them? Some studies on those with anxiety disorders revealed that nearly 90 percent of them had “strange” thoughts about contamination, harm, religious indecency, losing control, or sexual perversion. The thing is that many people have these thoughts, and many of these things that pop into your brain may reveal absolutely nothing about you. We have junk email, consider some of these bizarre thoughts as “junk mail” for the brain instead of beating yourself up or believing that one, or even seven out there thoughts mean that your sanity is on the line. Our brains are pretty complicated machines that store a lot of information, not everything out of them is going to be pure genius, so don’t spend too much time focusing on the lemon thoughts.
9. Inappropriate Funny Thoughts Or Laughing At A Funeral
While many may view a laughter outburst at a funeral as something only suited to someone with a really dark and messed up sense of humour, it’s actually not that strange. Funerals are stressful. Whether you were close to the departed or not, a funeral puts you in an often unfamiliar place, surrounded by a lot of emotion and stress. In addition to grieving for a loss, a funeral also reminds us of our own mortality; this is also a big pill to swallow. Laughing, whether it’s appropriate or not is a way to relieve some of this stress. Another cause of the laughter could be Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA), which is a neurological disorder which presents itself with unpredictable bouts of laughing, crying, or both. People with PBA may have emotional outbursts that don’t match what they’re really feeling.
8. You Envision Yourself Punching Someone In The Face
Having a sudden urge to throw a punch at someone or even throw your coffee or cocktails isn’t a sign that you’re losing it, but it is a sign that stress might be getting to you. Psychologists note that when people are stressed out or depressed their low levels of serotonin often create symptoms also present in those suffering from OCD. These symptoms can include specific rituals, like counting the number of steps on a particular walk or even having particular thoughts that you might find troubling, like punching someone in the face. Psychologists recommend taking a stress inventory when these thoughts arise, and see if there has been an increase in work or personal stress and responsibility. If the answer is yes, practice some stress reduction tips, since these fantasies could be your brain telling you it’s time for some self-care.
7. When You See Someone Running You Think About Tripping Them
This urge is pretty similar to punching someone in the face, so it’s a somewhat common feeling, but check your stress levels. But it also brings to mind another question, why do we find slapstick humor, like when someone falls, funny? It’s called a “play frame” when an event is placed in a context that isn’t serious, allowing for a typical reaction. For example if someone trips on the stairs, someone is more likely to find it funny than if they fall off a bridge to their death. Some theorize that since when we fall our bodies thrash as we attempt to catch ourselves. When we watch a person flailing in a similar manner, but aren’t the person falling, as the watcher our brain is “tickled” by a sort of neurological ghost that causes us to laugh, even when it’s not always appropriate.
6. You Imagine How You’d Rob A Bank
That day a big credit card bill arrives, or a huge repair on your car, it’s not unusual to think about an “easy” financial solution that will keep you in the black. A fantasy about robbing a bank to solve all of your financial woes isn’t a sign that you’re on your way to completing The Italian Job, but more of a fantasy as to what “could be”, a less positive spin on the winning the lottery fantasy. However the lottery fantasy is a lot less taboo than putting on a bunch of Skelator masks with your BFFs and entering the local bank with a bunch of shot guns like you’re The Joker. When we think about our fantasy we don’t think about getting caught, we think about how we’d get away with it, undetected, and any thoughts of actually robbing the bank are quickly dismissed as merely a passing thought or fantasy.
5. What If There Really Is A Monster Under The Bed?
Things that we’re afraid of can cause a fight or flight reaction. As children it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between something that is really a threat and something that is not. This is why a small child may be terrified by a haunted house, while an older one may be able to better enjoy the act of being scared, because they know there is no real threat. Scary things are like food for our imaginations, even when we’re adults. Our fears from our childhood never really go away, instead they hide under our unconscious, sometimes presenting themselves in our dreams, or our reactions to that bump in the night. As frightening as it is, maybe Freddy Kruger is right, and he really will “get us” in our dreams.
4. Having Kinky Relations With Someone You Aren’t Remotely Interested In
In the realms of dark thoughts, having a wildly “interesting” interaction between the sheets isn’t all that perverse — look at all of the other items on the list, seriously this is pretty tame stuff. Since the beginning of time humans have been drawn to things that aren’t typical and that mainstream society deems to be dirty, gross or wrong. There are a million examples of these, say seeking out an escort, or being the really attractive one in a couple. Some relationship bloggers have coined the term the “Beauty and The Beast Complex” to describe engaging in relations with someone who doesn’t “deserve” you. Maybe these thoughts are just passing, maybe they’re something you want to act on, that’s up to you, just make sure that you’re respectful and get consent in your escapades.
3. You Want To Drive In The Wrong Lane
Driving can be a monotonous task. Sometimes our mind goes to dark places in terms of what can go wrong on the road. When facing a two-lane highway a movement of the steering wheel just an inch or two in either direction could bring the vehicle into the face of oncoming traffic or land you in the ditch. So why do we think about what could go wrong or have a sudden urge to think about such dangerous circumstances? This becoming problematic doesn’t have much to do with the actual thoughts we have, but more the power we place on their meaning. When someone places too much importance on these types of thoughts it can point towards a symptom of OCD. If you have the feeling and then it passes, with a “Hmmm…that was strange”, you likely have nothing to worry about.
2. You Believe People Are Waiting For You To Make A Mistake
It’s easy to think that people are paying more attention to you than they are, it’s a part of our self-centred human nature. Our brains aren’t always the best guides to reality, as amazing as they are most of the time. We seek confirmation bias, meaning we surround ourselves with information we already believe, so you think someone hates you and you fill your thoughts up with the time they didn’t say hi to you in the food court or forgot to forward along a voice message, because naturally they hate you. Slow down! People are paying less attention to you than you may think. Since we steer our own ships so to speak we pay particular close attention to what we do and the mistakes we make. We all spend so much time worrying about things that never happen.
1. My Boss Wants To Talk To Me, So I Must Be Fired
Anxiety is a jerk, there I said it. Thinking about the worst case scenario is what has kept us alive as human beings, so it’s a natural instinct to assume the worst. Every time our boss delays in response, it’s not because they’re busy, it’s because they hate us, or if they write notes on our report or article and provide no positive feedback it must be because we’re on the way out the door, right? Sometimes a meeting is just a meeting, but our minds tend to get us going into worst case scenario. If you really are going to be fired there is nothing you can do to change that, however it’s usually not likely. This panic is literally your brain’s survival instinct playing tricks on you, so blame your ancestors who passed along those pesky genes that help keep you alive!
Sources: Huffington Post, Scientific American, NBC News, Psychology Today