Firstly it needs be said that horrible thoughts may appear to be personally driven, but they are not. They may appear to have grafted on or sprung from some terrible event in your life, but the ghosts that replay within the psyche are truly not even cousins to trauma and have no relative substance, except for their imagery, in the truth of the past.
2. The personal findings
The reason for this is God given. Humankind is free of their past and even though partially karmicly accountable for all manner of former actions, a man, woman or child is not ever lastingly affected by the actions of others.
Now this is a very healing and important piece of information. That as a universal law of protection to the being, soul and ego of an individual, another person or event cannot stain, corrupt or lastingly mark them in any way. It is so. It has to be so. It thankfully is so.
Recently there was a question asked about longterm effects of torture and evility - and in answer to this also and very importantly, there is an absolute which decrees that individuals cannot be set upon by any influence that they do not want to carry; and certainly there shall be no harmful experience that will either add or detract from their being.
So in returning to this first truth: all men and women are, in this moment, as of now, totally free of all past circumstances; and that horrible thoughts are not of the substance of the past, even though they may wear the clothes and mimic in the imagination.
Knowing this revokes the license that these thoughts have upon us. And even though there is often very real pain experienced when we reflect back upon some past events, you can discern the horrible thought by its taunting. If you ever speak to folk who are grief stricken, or can feel what they are going through (apart from the shock), you will recognize a form of grief that is almost to be cherished. It is not because they would want to experience the loss that they are going through, for themselves or another, but there is a certain 'light' that they know, within this true and very real pain.
And often when reflecting back, the memories of the pain of that moment are also light-filled, tragic, and oddly inspiring. Grief when it is current is overwhelming and has a direct cause, and these are not the kinds of thoughts we are contemplating when we speak of the horrible thoughts today.
Horrible thoughts have no real or immediate basis for their presenting. They are negative, unproductive, bring no light or condolence or sanctity, but rather just disturb and deride the conscious mind.
Over a seven day period it is a tremendous exercise to carry a personal journal and go horrible thought spotting. You can write down what it is you have seen in your mind's eye or contemplated, and then commit it to the journal, and then just following that sentence, also write a line about its relevance to the moment. It is particularly good to state that the horrible thought has no place with you reasonably, at that time.
Entry:Father really made me feel bad about eating that second plate full.Adding:My father is not here right now, and that was a very long time ago. It is not now. I can have seconds if I want to.
Entry:I cannot stand that woman or the way she looks at me. I feel sure she hates me.Adding:That woman is not here right now.
Entry:What if that knife slipped while I was using it, and sliced my hand right through?Adding:I do not have a knife in my hand right now. And if I use one I will be careful.
Entry:I am fat and I look terrible.Adding:My soul feels great - probably looks great too.
Entry:I am scared of bombs exploding the city.Adding:There are no bombs here thankfully, exploding the city.
Entry:What if I die today?Adding:I am not dead, I am alive.
Entry:What if I slip and fall?Adding:I am upright. I am ok. And if I do fall, I can only fall so far.
Entry:What if there is no food tomorrow?Adding:Thankfully I have food today.
Entry:I saw an old man with his pants off and he looked frightening.Adding:There is no man here like that.
Also it is helpful to draw a line around each entry and addition; like a fence circling the entire thing, mentally containing it as it were.
Now the purpose of this journal is not healing of itself, but a good beginning. The point of adding reasonable counter thoughts is just a protection from the entire project becoming an aggravated obsession. It will not, however, fix the problem of obscene or irritating thoughts simply by answering them calmly.
It also needs be said, that genuinely we can all experience a very helpful and insightful intuition or warning about something that definitely should be acted upon and listened to, rather than dismissed in the ways we are speaking of today. However the point of difference with these useful cautions that are speaking to our being, is that once again there is a calmness, a 'light', an inspirational quality to these experiences. We will be more attuned to the positive warnings, if we can unclutter our minds from the tedious unproductive alarms that merely disturb and incite undirected fears and longings.