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I'm a 42 year old married man with 2 children. Recently I've been having flashbacks to when I was 15 and I think I did something totally unacceptable to my 5 year old cousin. I can't remember specifics its a long time ago, but it involved my penis and I was showing it to my cousin. The whole event lasted about 30 seconds. In my eyes at the time it was innocent, a game perhaps. I feel so guilty, its affecting my mental and physical health. I had never done it before and never done it again. I'd like to think I'm a normal bloke. These guilty feelings are now affecting my everyday state of mind and I don't know what to do.
I cannot stress this point enough, this was a one off event.
I've see my cousin regularly and for the past 27 years we have got on really well.
There exists sexual play amongst children. What you're reporting was a one time incident of possible exibisionsism.
What is causing you to obsessively think about this to the point of becoming ill? Your anxiety level may be making this more difficult to think about than just accept it as something that had occurred and had never been repeated again. It may have been something done out of curiosity (to get a reaction/to see what you feel or what happens or, possibly to shock your cousin). Regardless, you've been able to behave in a healthy way after that episode.
The act was done by you as a young adult. Your level of understanding is different now.
You know that you are only in control of the present and how you view this situation. The past can't be changed.
You've listed that you've tried subliminals and hypnosis. Cognitive Therapy is another helpful tool. Your emotional/mental reaction is tied to your cognition (what you think/tell yourself/ruminate over and accept as true) Ones thoughts don't always represent outward reality (just the inward one).
Feel free to reply and clarify what info you were seeking more specifically.
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Thanks for your response, which I understand fully and have tried to tell myself this for ages.
These thoughts will not go away, I think I'm some sort of pervert or devient and yet I have lived with this event for 27 years and it has never bothered at all.
Were do I start with sending these thoughts back into my past. I have a great life, 2 wonderful kids and a loving wife, my thoughts are affecting my life. If I confess to try and ease the situation I will make matters a million times worse. It was a one off, I'm no danger to children, never have been or never will be.
You would not necessarily have to be confessing this to anyone else than a therapist if you chose one to work with.
Is your anxiety level higher than usual? The compulsive thinking may relate to OCD.
These thoughts are causing you significant distress. You don't have to send the thoughts to the past. You're working with the present moment and the current thinking pattern that is taking control over your health.
Thoughts are self generated. Thoughts can be modified by paraphrasing them, redirecting them to a neutral or positive object of attention and through practicing mindfulness. For example, on any given day, you may decide to put aside some worry time for let's say 5 minutes. During this time, you can allow yourself to bring to mind all sorts of thoughts regarding this incident. At the end of the 5 min marker, notice how many different thoughts had arisen to your mind.
The next day, reduce the time to 4 min, then 3 min, etc.
Meditation can be effective in reducing anxiety as well as enabling you to bring your awareness and view the thoughts as thoughts rather than realities. Then, you can try to reframe these sorts of negative/anxiety provoking thoughts.
If the self help tools you've used are not as helpful, working w/ someone face to face who specializes in Cognitive Therapy or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) may be helpful. Another thing to look into is what is your general level of anxiety. In some cases medication helps balance the brain chemistry as a result of one's thoughts can become more manageable.
Jack, this would be something to do beyond online consult; it is causing your health to deteriorate. Logically you know that you're making this more of an issue than it is. Yet, the thoughts and anxiety are running your life now rather than the other way around. Any trained clinician can hear what you're dealing with without judgment or negative consequences.
The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts by Lee Baer
Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD by David A. Clark and Christine Purdon
Thank you for your advice.