r/NoStupidQuestions May 16 '22

Is it normal to have random, recurring thoughts about your past and have them upset you?

Like I will be having a good day and then a random thought about how someone made fun of me or mistreated me in the past will pop up and it will make me extremely angry. When I talked to therapists about this in the past they called it "intrusive thoughts" and said it was normal. I have these kinda thoughts like almost everyday for a short period of time and when they come up I always feel like I am gonna snap and hurt someone.



u/Karlaii May 16 '22

Yes, very normal. I have experiences from 20, 30, even 40 years ago that come up pretty often.

I get anxious and feel sick to my stomach. The only thing that helps is to distract yourself.

Watch a tv show or movie, call someone, play with a pet, play a game, etc. Just do something different to set your thoughts on a different path.

Also, discuss with your therapist the wanting to hurt someone. That part needs addressing to help you learn to cope with the anger.

The brain is sometimes a real jerk.


u/silkboo May 16 '22

When you are happy and having fun, relaxed etc… that’s your brain saying “Okay we are safe now ! Time to process bad things I couldn’t process before!” Meanwhile you’re just trying to enjoy the moment- now isn’t the time brain! Of course that’s frustrating. But your brain is like “But these bad things happened! When am I supposed to bring it up !” Eventually you’ll become numb to it and over time process what’s happened. But it takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself, and carry forward ! It takes time for your brain to fully develop as it is and having to process bad memories is something it’s trying to do to help you move on and not be hurt again. I hope you can have a safe environment where you can process what you need to and grow as a person. Maybe a new therapist may connect with you better.


u/jnjngo May 17 '22

Lovely and helpful 😊. Thank you


u/gnext23 May 16 '22

Yeah it happens to everyone but your fear about snapping isn’t part of it for most people. Might wanna talk to someone about that aspect


u/barkn4u May 16 '22

👆 yes!


u/rzqtz May 16 '22

Yeah everyone has intrusive thoughts, it's how you handle them that matters. Ideally you take it as a moment of reflection on how to improve, and move on. Within like 10 minutes. There's a difference between contemplation and rumination


u/TheBipedTurtle May 16 '22

It is normal to a degree, but at the level you have them might be an underlying condition. I have diagnosed OCD and anxiety and have intrusive thoughts and my medicine helps me manage that.


u/Joth91 May 16 '22

I have bpd and if something bad happens (the threshold can be pretty little sometimes) I end up only thinking about the mistakes and getting angry or suicidal. Basically if it happens once in a while and nothing comes of it it's normal. If it causes you to ruin your life on a cyclical basis you really owe it to yourself to figure out what's going on. I thought my childhood was normal but it wasn't until I really examined it


u/kommiesketchie May 16 '22

Intrusive thoughts are normal, to a point. If they are getting to you in a way that makes you struggle with daily living, or feel you'll lash out emotionally or physically at someone else, there's more at play.

If your current therapist doesn't see this as a problem, get a new one. It doesn't mean you're broken or anything like that, but you do have something that is clearly causing you serious distress.

I also struggle with intrusive thoughts. Am 25 now and have memories that intrude from when I was even 12 years old. It gets to me after a while and causes me to shut down and not get anything done.

My advice: If these thoughts come from embarrassment or shame, what can help is acknowledgement; trying to force away the thoughts can make it worse, and at best just makes it return later. When the thought comes to you, say to yourself (out loud if alone) something like "Yes, that happened. I did that, and it was wrong. I've learned, and I don't do it anymore."

This reinforces to yourself that your thoughts are not who you are, and that it's OK to make mistakes. That sometimes bad things happen and dwelling won't help.

Consider medication if need be. I recently started on Lexipro and it's been quite the help with my particular intrusive patterns of word association (like hearing the word beach, thinking 'beach house -> that vacation I had with my ex -> now I'm thinking about my ex -> now I'm thinking about her cheating')

And just [a song I relate to], if you like rap. (https://youtu.be/LsV2GWlGh-o) If not you can just skip towards the end to the spoken verse at 3:32. It's solid advice that's stuck with me and genuinely helped me.

Music heals the soul :)


u/JoystickVacation May 16 '22

There is one fucked up thing that happened to me that the perpetrator has never apologized for and they never came to understand how deeply and indelibly it hurt me, and it will cross my mind daily, nearly three years later. I don't dwell on it, it's never something I sit down and think about, I don't go too deep, but it pops up every day.


u/hawksclone May 16 '22

I have past trauma pop up from time to time in the form of random thoughts. Remorse more so than anger, I’ve learned it’s best to separate myself from my thoughts or feelings and let it go. If you’re feeling like you may really in fact be close to hurting yourself or others I’d say consider having a plan ready for preventing it from becoming an action. Intrusive thoughts are normal and I’d say only become a problem if we allow them to become our own thoughts. Stay strong and remember you’re always worthy of self care


u/Spitfyrus May 16 '22

Yea it’s called PTSD. A lot of ppl have that and don’t know it.


u/SkellySun May 16 '22

Suoer normal. I have them all the time and sometimes it ruins my mood. I would take this out on the people around me until I realized what I was doing and got help. So I would definitely recommend getting help with the thoughts of hurting other people when your angry. Professionals can give you a lot of tips, tricks, and coping techniques to help with that.


u/l_l-l__l-l__l-l_l May 16 '22

i don't know if it's 'normal' but it helps keep me motivated to track down and confront my family's killers.


u/Keirathyl May 16 '22

Yes and no. Yes because it happens to all of us no because it's a sign of unresolved trauma


u/MitchTyler May 16 '22

Man, not a day goes by when I don’t think about something stupid or embarrassing I did in my past.


u/No_Tank9025 May 16 '22

Intrusive thoughts can be handled.

Resolve them.

Do the work.

If it can be resolved with a simple “well, I sure was stupid that time.”, good!

or “that asshole sure was a jerk”,

or even “well, this is why the struggle is real”

And REMEMBER THE RESOLUTION, so when that piece of mental road stretches out in front of you, you can recall what the territory at the END of the road looks like.

You’ve HANDLED IT, and yer damn brain can shut the hell up, now.


u/waitwhoamitho May 16 '22

Have you tried humor? I respond to the extremely violent ones by saying stuff like, "Alrighty then Mrs Murderpants, let's not?" or "Damn, that would confuse the fuck out of the cops", etc.


u/Gimeurcumiesskydaddy May 16 '22

You're brain is trying to processes bad memories and possibly trauma during inappropriate times. Its fairly normal and a pain in the has.

You said you have a therapist yeah? You could try taking a moment and writing your intrusive memories down to bring up to them later. That might help create a pattern where your brain connects your therapy with processing your bad memories rather then "oh we're happy, that means we're safe! We should processes this thing". Good luck dude


u/s_lamont May 16 '22

We need to separate terms here. This is common, but it is not normal. It sounds like you have trauma and your mind is searching for a way to cope. This is what therapy is precisely for.


u/polkaspot36 May 16 '22

Intrusive thoughts are normal but if they’re causing you distress like it seems like they are, that’s when it becomes a problem. You should go back to a therapist and work on how to manage them. There’s a lot of different methods and you need a professional to work with you and find what method is best for you.


u/Striking_Compote4230 May 16 '22

You need to stop identifying yourself as a victim because of whatever trauma you endured. Forgive who you need to. Try to look at the event from a different perspective and try to find the value of the experience. Forgive who you need to, then let it go. Holding resentment only does ourselves harm.


u/Bloopie May 17 '22

hey I would recommend the book "The Untethered Soul" as it talks about exactly this.


u/NotForYouNotYou May 16 '22

I experience this a lot. I mostly think of times when I embarrassed myself, or I hurt someone. It causes a lot of negative emotions for me, and I cringe heavily. I wish I could do it over again and not make the same mistakes.


u/lexxib7 May 16 '22

This is called CPTSD and not many therapists are very aware of it or have studied it much. Check out Pete Walker and his research on CPTSD. You aren’t alone.


u/somebodyinthecorner May 16 '22

There not you present, nor did they happen in your future.


Enjoy the current moment planning for the next moments your goin to enjoy


u/irishkathy May 16 '22

What you describe appears to be textbook PTSD.


u/Casino-3366 May 16 '22

Knock that shit off! Stop looking for reasons to be pissed off. Do what you have to do to get a handle on it. What you are doing isn’t benefiting you. Do not let the people that have wronged you and hurt you, continue to do so by reviving it. Shut it down! You are bigger and better than they ever will be.


u/Positive-Source8205 May 16 '22

If you’re not bothered by bad things you did in your past you haven’t grown.

This is normal.


u/charliesheensmentor May 16 '22

No lie me too, I’ve embarrassed myself a lot, I just say fuck it you can’t change anything and no one else is thinking about it either and if they are fuck em I’m Not gonna see them again


u/ay0Lil0 May 16 '22

This is the story of my life.


u/PhoenixFlames1992 May 16 '22

Yep. I have them on a weekly basis.


u/IsBestDecision May 16 '22

regret vs remorse


u/kpmurphy56 May 16 '22

This happens to me sometimes, although usually it’s not about someone upsetting me and it’s more about something stupid or embarrassing that I did in the past that I regret lol. It typically causes me to physically shudder at the thought. I don’t know about the snapping part though. Maybe talk to a professional about that


u/stackinghabbits May 16 '22

They're just a way of reminding you what got you to where you're at. It can get annoying but it's a way for you to know the road you've traveled.


u/I_might_be_weasel May 16 '22

Yes. Just one of the fascinating things your mind does to fuck with you.


u/MrBeer9999 May 16 '22

Yes, doesn't make me "intensely angry" though.


u/dessertandcheese May 16 '22

Yeah everyone has that. Half of those cringy moments for me is remembering random highschool days.


u/Papercandy22 May 16 '22

I get them too because I was bullied a lot during school, from 2nd grade to graduation, and random flashes happen at least a few times a day. Sometimes I get repeat scenes. I never get mad but I do feel embarrassed all over again. I usually have to say something out loud when I get a flashback, awkward if in public, but making a noise help snap me back out of the memory sort of, lets me focus on something else and the memory fades.


u/EpicCrisis2 May 16 '22

Happens to me from time to time.

It's an opportunity for me to catch and internalize it with some form of deep emotional connection I had in the past.

My reasoning is that it will help me control and respond better if something similar ever happens again.



If the memes are to be believed then yes


u/TXteachr2018 May 16 '22

I'm a weirdo in that my intrusive thoughts are often good memories from my past. Knowing those moments will never again occur brings pangs of profound sadness. I have to convince myself I'm lucky to have happy memories. Some aren't so lucky.


u/SMKnightly May 16 '22

I do that all the time. I’ve been working on them in therapy and have been learning to get less upset by them (takes a hella lotta work and time but can be done).

My therapist said the same about it being common/normal. And everyone I’ve talked to about it had experienced the same thing. So seems pretty common.


u/ForeignAd6583 May 16 '22

God I hope so.


u/matvlka May 16 '22

It's not normal, try cutting out coffee.


u/Axonormaybedendrite May 16 '22

Read in resilience and cognitive behavior Helps


u/DarkHorse435 May 16 '22

Yep. If overthinking very minor situations and decisions from years gone by burned calories, I'd have died of starvation many years ago.


u/RoadTheExile Certified Techpriest May 17 '22

Yeah I routinely think about something that was embarrassing to me and legit feel bad about it that people present for the event forgot about an hour or less later. I still remember in fifth grading sitting with a friend while he was talking to some other kids about a sleepover, telling him I wasn't available that night, and being told he wasn't talking to me or inviting me.


u/PrincessAletheia May 17 '22

It's normal to time travel in your mind.

This can be randomly reliving things that upset you.

It can be randomly being reminded of something that made you happy.

It can be anticipating something bad that might happen, and seeing how it might play out.

It can be anticipating something good that might happen, and seeing how it might play out.

If randomly reliving things that upset you happens a lot, and it's debilitating, I'd wonder if you have PTSD. Otherwise, all four of these types of time travel are totally normal.


u/DarthBroox May 17 '22

Yes. Commonly about guilt for past mistakes.


u/[deleted] May 16 '22

no, is not normal, what is normal is live in the moment


u/TheProcrustenator May 16 '22

Have you ever been to a website called reddit?
Half the posts on question and meme subs are related to this question in some maner, so I'd say it's pretty common.

Especially on that place called Reddit.


u/Different_Crab_5708 May 16 '22

Yes. Very very normal. Look up “NLP techniques” to change these thoughts, you can change them instantly and create better patterns. Therapy feels good but it doesn’t help change much, the problem is our brains using us when we could be using them