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The Pink Elephant Paradox: how intrusive thoughts impact our emotions and decisions

Can you imagine a pink elephant? Is it big or small? Hot pink or pastel pink? Does it look happy, sad, tired, or excited? Give your pink elephant as much detail as you can. Now that you have got your pink elephant clear in your head, it is time to stop thinking about it. Think about any other topic for 30 seconds, and observe where your thoughts take you.

How long did you last without the pink elephant creeping back into your mind? For most of us, that pink elephant will appear back in our thoughts within seconds. The same is true of unwanted and intrusive thoughts: the more you try to suppress them, the more they will bother you. This is called the Pink Elephant Paradox.

Learning how to manage obsessive or intrusive thoughts can help you to avoid the associated pitfalls of negative emotions, distractibility, and poor decision-making.

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