Thinking about the same thing, especially when it is negative, can be stressful.
You know you are in control of your thoughts. Yet, right now, perhaps it feels more like your thoughts are controlling you.
The more you think about this negative thought, the worse you feel.
Maybe the inability to stop thinking about something has even begun to disrupt your satisfaction and happiness in your everyday life. You go to work thinking about it. Try to enjoy a catch-up with a friend, and you are still thinking about it.
You just want to stop thinking.
If you can’t seem to stop obsessing about something, don’t worry, you are in the right place. I will share effective ways on how to stop thinking about something and how to do it fast.
In this article, you will learn:
Why Do We Obsess Over Bad Thoughts?
Whether it is connected to anxiety about the future, a limiting belief that is holding you back, or even a consequence of past trauma, it may feel as though this negative thought is taking away from your present health and wellbeing.
In fact, negative thoughts can significantly wear a person down, even resulting in depression and anxiety.
So, why does negative thinking happen? Throughout the past three decades working as a therapist, I have noticed a few main reasons why recurring negative thoughts happen most often.
Sometimes, there seems to be a legitimate reason why we can’t stop thinking about something, whether it be trying to solve a problem or proactively planning ahead and trying to avoid any undesired outcomes.
In other cases, however, neurons in your brain might get “stuck in a loop” where they continue to fire, presenting the thought to you non-stop.
These repeated thoughts can also emerge as a consequence of a bad habit.
No matter what your reason is, in most cases, these thoughts are not helpful or useful in any way. More often than not, the more this thinking process continues, the more stressed and anxious you get. You are likely Googling, “How to stop thinking about something,” because you feel frustrated and you want to change it.
It could be the first time this has happened to you, or perhaps you are fed up with this automatic negative thought loop in your mind. Either way, it is important to learn how to stop negative thoughts so that you can enjoy your life and get the most out of it.
How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts
When you can’t stop thinking about something for some time, you might want to ignore or suppress the thought. However, this usually does not work. Moreover, it can lead to becoming fixated on the thought even more.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology observed that when participants were told not to think about a white bear, they actually thought about it more.
In fact, suppressing this thought led it to be more prominent in the participants’ minds. This means that simply trying to ignore or suppress the thought does not work. However, there are other ways that do, such as the six methods below. So let’s answer the question, “How do I stop thinking about something?” once and for all, and help you move forward with your life.
1. Determine If you’re ruminating or problem-solving
Are you dwelling on the problem? Or are you trying to come up with solutions?
This is important to differentiate between.
Ruminating means that you are focusing on what went wrong or what could go wrong, as opposed to taking a proactive approach to solve the problem or ensure the situation goes right.
For example, maybe your boss gave you a poor performance report. All you can focus on is how badly you did and what a horrible employee you are. You think that maybe you will lose your job. You replay what your boss said over and over again in your mind and continue to dwell on it.
As a result, these stressful thoughts activate your “fight-or-flight” response. This can make it very difficult to problem-solve as your brain is not in a relaxed state where it can think of creative solutions. Instead, your body and mind are stressing about whether you will have a job tomorrow or not.
This is not helpful, nor is it productive.
Your thoughts influence your feelings, your feelings influence your actions, and your actions define the outcomes of your events. So if you change your thinking, you change everything.
This rumination may actually lead to you performing worse at work.
To avoid the rumination trap, start thinking about a solution. What can you do about it? You could plan to go to work the next day and do your very best. You could take the feedback your boss gave you and focus on improving your weaknesses.
Remember, your thoughts are entirely within your control.
Focusing on solutions allows you to take action and do something about the thought. Switch the narrative and problem-solve.
2. Proactively change your brain’s channel
While simply not thinking about the thought does not work, distracting yourself with other tasks can.
Doing so proactively changes your brain’s channel, diverting your energy away from the recurring negative thought. In a way, it works similarly to changing the channel on your TV.
For this, you need to engage in an activity that requires a ton of mental energy. Usually, this is something that makes you feel good, and it may vary from person to person. What works for your friend might not work for you and vice versa.
Some examples include:
- Calling a friend and talk about something positive
- Playing an instrument
- Performing intense physical activity
- Planning your next vacation
- Blasting some of your favorite music and dancing
- Reading a book
The goal is to find something that is mentally engaging and that you enjoy. This will reprogram your mind by introducing happier thoughts and directing your energy elsewhere so that you don’t think about the same negative thought again and again—whether that means you stop thinking about someone or you stop overthinking in general.
3. Change the words you say to change the picture in your mind
During my thirty years as a therapist, I observed how the mind works and compiled a list of rules of the mind. Understanding and applying these rules will allow you to take control of your mind and thoughts.
One of the rules is “Your mind will always do what it thinks you want it to do.”
Your mind creates a picture of your reality with words you say every day—no matter whether they are good or bad, true or false, your mind is always listening. Therefore, when you continue to tell yourself negative words or phrases, your mind will paint an even more vivid negative picture and make it your reality.
Another rule is that “Whatever you focus on, you will get more of.” If you focus on these negative thoughts, you are going to get more negative thoughts and negativity in your life in general.
At the same time, the mind learns by repetition. The more you repeat something, the greater the response will be.
Knowing these rules of the mind can be a great advantage. You can give your mind clear instructions and repeat them in order to reprogram your mind.
For example, if what your boss said to you during your performance feedback bothered you, you could simply say, “I am happy to get feedback and the opportunity to improve.” You can make a choice on how you want to see the situation and clearly communicate it to your mind.
After deciding on a positive phrase, repeat it to yourself. This will solidify it in your mind. You can further visualize this and create a picture of how you will improve on this feedback. Maybe you will ensure you get your reports in on time, or perhaps you will set multiple alarms to make sure you are on time or early for work each and every day.
Harnessing the power of your mind and the rules of your mind can help you understand how to stop thinking about something, allowing you to move forward with your day and your life.
To maximize the benefits of what you just learned, try my hypnosis for anxiety audio. Hypnosis will help you reprogram your mind by giving your subconscious the right instructions. I recommend listening to the self-hypnosis audio at least once a day for 21 days for greater results. Alternatively, you can listen to the hypnosis audio whenever you start ruminating again to overcome these worries and rid yourself of negative thoughts and feelings.
4. Write it out or talk about it with someone you trust
It can be hard to understand our thoughts or come up with solutions when we keep going around in circles in our heads about it. Yet, writing it out or talking to someone you trust can help you sort through your thoughts, as well as get rid of them.
Research has shown that writing down any unwanted and negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then throwing it away can significantly change your perception about the thought.
By throwing the thought away, you are influencing how you think about it. You are physically telling your mind that it does not matter, and your mind responds to what you tell it. So choose to tell it good things instead.
If you are thinking about a worst-case scenario, write down what you are afraid could happen and why you would still be okay.
Usually, these worst-cases are not as bad as we make them out to be. You might be telling yourself that you would just die if this worst-case scenario were to happen. In reality, this is highly unlikely. In fact, some difficult situations in life can actually lead to better circumstances, such as getting out of a toxic relationship or losing a job just to find a new job you actually enjoy.
Talking to someone you trust can also provide a stress release. They could help you gain new perspectives and ways to think about the negative thought.
If you are not comfortable opening up with your friends, you always have the option to talk to an expert who understands how the human mind works. An expert, such as a Rapid Transformational Therapy® therapist, can guide you out of your situation and help you move toward a better and happier life that is not held back by these negative thoughts.
Meditation is a wonderful practice that can help you control your mind’s attention and focus. Studies indicate that mindfulness meditation can also stop intrusive thoughts.
Regular meditation practices can further help you live in the moment more, preventing thought wandering.
Mind-wandering tends to occur due to a higher activation of the default-mode network (DMN). The DMN is associated with various clinical disorders, such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research demonstrates that it’s possible to reduce activity in the DMN through mindfulness meditation. Particularly, this research shows that mindfulness meditation that focuses on one entity or object can help you maintain attention and an acceptance attitude during meditation.
How to do it:
During your first few sessions, set a timer to two minutes. During later sessions, you can gradually increase the duration.
Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight, and close your eyes.
Focus on each inhale and exhale, while taking full and deep belly breaths.
Thoughts may arise. Notice them and let them pass.
Don’t judge yourself if you get distracted. Gently bring your attention back to the breath.
This simple practice can help you now and in the future when it comes to stopping bad thoughts. Meditation may also help you focus on getting what you want out of your life, as opposed to what you do not. Regular practice is essential when it comes to meditation having beneficial consequences on your life.
6. Seek out help when needed
If you are really struggling with how to stop thinking about something, you may benefit from talking to a professional who deeply understands how the human mind works.
Over the course of my thirty years as a therapist and working with thousands of clients all over the world, I developed Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®). This therapeutic approach aims to reprogram the mind by using the most powerful elements of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, cognitive behavioural therapy, and neuroscience.
RTT® can help you quickly and effectively stop thinking about something, allowing you to be present and get the most out of each day of your life.
It taps into your subconscious mind, reprogramming those automatic responses and networks, which puts you in more control of what you think. It’s helped individuals overcome addictions, anxiety, phobias, destructive habits, and more.
RTT® has the ability to resolve the deepest fears and beliefs, as well as overcome unwanted rumination and reprogram your mind for peace and success. Find your RTT® therapist here.
Stop Negative Thinking Patterns—Starting Today
Negative thoughts do not have to run your life. You are in control. There are various ways to learn how to stop thinking about something. Begin harnessing the power of your mind through the techniques described above.
If you do not want to do it alone, there is help available. An RTT® therapist can work with you to unpack and reprogram your subconscious mind, freeing you from negative thought patterns. Find your RTT® therapist today, and take back control of your mind and your life.