Unwanted Thoughts Tips and Trick

Stopping Your Unwanted Thoughts

What you think can affect how you feel. Unwanted thoughts can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, keeping you from enjoying your life.

A technique called thought-stopping can help you not only stop unwanted thoughts but change how you think so you feel better about a situation. 

Changing your thinking requires your time and practice, but this will become a new positive behaviour to carry forward into your life. 

How to stop an unwanted thought

When you notice and focus on a bothersome thought, learn to say “STOP” to end the thought. 

Try to shout “STOP” aloud at first. As you begin to practice this technique, you will learn to say it in your mind enabling you to use this technique, anytime, anywhere. 

Ready to get started? Let’s do this.

1) Make a list of your most stressful thoughts.

These are upsetting thoughts that make you worry more and distract you from your daily activities. Despite your might, these thoughts are the ones that keep occurring. Jot down your thoughts in order of the most to the least stressful.

Start by practicing “thought stopping” with the thought that is your least stressful.

2) Visualize the thought in your mind.

Take a moment to be in a private space where you feel comfortable to shout aloud, “Stop.” Close your eyes and visualize a situation where this stressful though may occur. Allow yourself to focus on this thought before moving onto the next step.

3) Stop that thought.

A powerful way to interrupt an upsetting thought is by shouting out a startling “STOP” to yourself.

Unwanted Thought Tricks 

Trick 1:

Set an alarm or timer for a couple of minutes before focussing on your unwanted thought. When the alarm goes off, shout, “STOP!”.

Follow this cue to empty your mind and try to keep it empty for about 30 seconds. 

Don’t worry if the upsetting thought comes back into your mind – just shout “STOP” again!

As you develop in your practice, you can also try snapping your fingers, clapping your hands or tapping your feet, as a cue to stop your negative thoughts.

Trick 2:

Voice record yourself shouting stop at intervals of 1, 2 and 3 minutes. Play this back as you try to focus on your unwanted thought.  When your recorded voice cues you to “stop,” then try to interrupt your upsetting thought. Listening to your own voice telling you to stop helps strengthen your commitment to ditching the negative thought. 

Trick 3:

As you progress in your thought stopping practice, you can begin to say “stop’ in a normal tone of voice tone or whisper. Over time, you can adjust to hearing “stop” in your mind when you catch an unwanted thought rising to the surface. 

Some people may need additional help in stopping unwanted upsetting thoughts. If you would like to discuss your thoughts with a licensed mental health professional via text and/or video, download Snapclarity to get the help you need, when you need it. 

Thank you to MyHealth.Alberta for the great inspiration!