Have you ever experienced stress from obsessive or unwanted thoughts? Did you say to yourself, “Today I am not going to think about….?” What is the first thing you thought about? Was it that obsessive” or “unwanted” thought?
These negative, stressful thoughts can be stopped by a technique called thought-stopping. First, picture a scene that brings up wonderful, comfortable feelings, and that makes you feel good about yourself. Imagine the scene in terms of what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, and feels like. For example: You are on a beach. You see the sand and the water; you hear the waves beating against the shore; you smell the salt water and feel invigorated, yet calm. The scene you imagine doesn’t have to be a true experience. The important point is that whatever you picture makes you feel good. Every time one of these unwanted thoughts occur, yell “Stop!” in your mind or out loud. Yelling, “Stop” immediately breaks the thought cycle. Then substitute your positive scene, replacing the negative thought that makes you feel badly about yourself with a positive thought that makes you feel good. The scene will leave your mind but the good feelings will remain.
After a few days the negative thoughts will be less frequent and you will be able to control them. It gets easier every time you do it. It is important to use this technique each time the unwanted thought appears. You can do thought stopping when you feel bad about yourself, guilty about something, when you’re obsessed about the future or the past, or when you just want to get rid of a thought that is taking up your emotional energy. If you combine this technique with a conscious breathing relaxation exercise, it will help you sleep at night. You will feel better and experience less distress. There will be more time for you to enjoy your life and be productive in the ways you want to be.