Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started
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Unwanted thoughts can make you feel anxious or depressed. They may keep you from enjoying your life.
A technique called thought-stopping can help you stop unwanted thoughts.
Thought-stopping is a way to get rid of unwanted thoughts. You may dwell or obsess on thoughts that make you worry, feel sad, or feel bad about yourself. Research shows that thought-stopping works. It can change the way you think. In thought-stopping, you focus on the unwanted thought and then use a technique to stop it.
When you practice thought-stopping, the unwanted thought occurs less often. Over time, the thought will be easier to ignore or may not occur at all. In some cases, the thoughts may be worries. For example, you may worry a lot about your health or the health of a family member. Or you may think over and over about a bad grade in school or a comment by a supervisor at work. Thought-stopping can help you deal with these thoughts.
You can work on thought-stopping on your own or with a counselor or therapist.
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Thought-stopping can help you to not worry so much.
You need to see a counselor or a therapist to practice thought-stopping.
Studies show that when you change what you think, you can change your mood. Thought-stopping is easy to learn, and it can help you feel better. Negative, unwanted thoughts can lead to anxiety or depression. They can keep you from sleeping well. And they can make it hard for you to work and enjoy your life.
Thought-stopping also can help if you already have anxiety or depression. It's one way to take an active role in your treatment. You can prevent some of the thoughts that make you anxious or depressed.
You can learn to do thought-stopping anywhere, so it can help you at work or at home. It's also easy to learn. But it does take some practice.
In some cases, you may need more help to stop thoughts that worry you or make you feel bad. Some thoughts or behaviors can't be handled by thought-stopping alone. Seek the help of your doctor or a licensed therapist or counselor if you can't stop unwanted thoughts on your own.
Test Your Knowledge
Thought-stopping is an easy way to change how you think.
To stop unwanted thoughts, you focus on the thought and then learn to say "Stop" to end the thought. At first, you will shout "Stop!" out loud. Then you will learn to say it in your mind so that you can use this technique anywhere. Here's how to get started:
Other ways to stop thoughts
You can change how you do thought-stopping:
This new image or idea is not the same thing as replacing a negative thought with a helpful thought that is related to it. For more information on that method, see the topic Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.
An example of thought-stopping
Here's an example of how thought-stopping might work:
You're worried about a presentation you are giving at work later in the day. You're prepared. You know you're ready. But you can't stop worrying about it. You imagine making a mistake.
When you start to think of yourself stumbling over words, you say "Stop" quietly in your mind. You get up and move around, or you snap your rubber band as you say "Stop." Then you think of something pleasant to take your mind off the thought—such as a trip you are planning to take or a movie you saw recently that made you laugh.
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To stop unwanted thoughts, you need to concentrate on them.
At first, it's best to practice stopping the thought that bothers you the most.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to practice stopping unwanted thoughts.
Thought-stopping can be used with other cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. You can learn to notice negative thoughts and then replace them with helpful thoughts.
For more information, see:
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