How Do I Control My Thoughts?
Everyone experiences negative thoughts now and again; however, persistent worrying can have serious repercussions for physical wellbeing.
Learning to control your thoughts is of paramount importance. First, recognize when they’re negative and then be able to stop them in their tracks.
Distracting yourself and altering your thoughts are effective methods for controlling unwanted thoughts.
Observe Your Thoughts
Step one to controlling your thoughts is becoming aware of them. Meditation can help with this step, or just sitting quietly and watching what comes into your head can also work well – aim to distinguish between what the chattering mind is telling you and who you truly are; though this will take time and effort it is key in altering thought patterns.
Consider how often negative thoughts come to you; chances are, it is more frequently than you realize. Feeling powerless against them, negative thinking may wreak havoc with both emotions and behaviors if left unchecked; reacting emotionally then accepting what the thought represents as truth can become an all too familiar cycle if left unattended. To stop this cycle, train your brain to observe these thoughts without accepting them as truth – that way they won’t control you anymore!
Start by becoming more aware of any negative thoughts as soon as they surface. By being alert, it will allow you to observe their patterns and pinpoint their triggers – perhaps something only arises during stressful or certain environments; try to determine why these situations happen so you can avoid similar experiences in future.
Once you recognize these thoughts as part of your emotional experience, labeling them with words such as “anxious”, “frustrated”, or “depressed”. No matter what the emotion may be; what’s important is recognizing that they represent part of it.
Once you realize your thoughts aren’t real, it becomes easier to recognize them for what they are. That doesn’t mean ignoring or disengaging from them altogether – instead, learn to manage your thoughts by treating them like a scientific experiment and observe how often they arise – this way they won’t have as much power over your thinking processes.
Take a Break
If you find yourself dwelling on a recent breakup or feeling discouraged about long distance dating, it is wise to step back. Such thoughts tend to be self-limiting; that is, they prevent us from reaching our goals or realizing our dreams. Additionally, negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling cycles, leading to emotional outbursts or physical reactions.
Gaining self-awareness is key to controlling your thoughts, which you can achieve by way of observation. Once aware, you can begin questioning and altering the content of your thoughts – the more often this process is repeated, the easier it will become for you to manage them. For instance, if a negative thought like “I’m not good enough” arises, using observation and questioning techniques you can reframe it in more positive terms and increase confidence while being better equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way!
At first it may seem tempting to quickly try and control your thoughts, but this process takes time and requires patience. Impatience can lead to quitting before reaching your desired goal – be patient as you progress through each step and you’ll soon reap the benefits with a healthier mindset.
A break can be an essential tool to manage stress and increase productivity and alertness. A break could include anything from taking a stroll, watching an entertaining video or talking with a friend – any activity which helps break the monotony of study or work and recharges batteries – such as speaking to another person and breaking your internal monologue; talking with friends provides the chance for human contact that helps break up internal monologue; knitting or painting are relaxing hobbies which could also provide welcome respite.
Ask Yourself a Question
Unwanted thoughts can cause great distress. Controlling them is understandably desired, yet often seems beyond reach. Yet with some deliberate practice and patience it’s possible to learn how to regulate your thoughts.
Asking yourself questions can be an effective way of breaking free of negative thought patterns. For instance, if you find yourself constantly comparing yourself with others, asking “What does this thought tell me about myself?” may help.
Instead of suppressing unwanted thoughts, identify them. Once identified, negative thoughts can be challenged systematically while you also take the opportunity to explore what beliefs lie beneath such thoughts.
For example, if your thought is that you’re wasting your life, label it frustration instead. That way, when it recurs you can recognize it quickly and replace the negative thought with one more positive one – over time these negative thoughts won’t have as much of an effect.
Interrupt Your Thoughts
If an unwanted thought invades your mind, try interrupting it rather than just dismissing it outright. While this might require more work than simply stopping thinking altogether, it might work in your favor.
Rephrasing can be one of the easiest and simplest ways to catch negative thoughts before they take hold. Writing down your thoughts may also help reveal patterns you hadn’t noticed before as well as identifying triggers so you can avoid having those same thoughts come back again.
Use of trigger words or actions can also help. If your thoughts drift toward drugs and alcohol or cow poop, create an interruption technique such as wearing a rubber band around your wrist to snap when something triggers. Others imagine visualising a stop sign to break their train of thought.
Meditation and relaxation techniques can also be immensely useful. They can help you calm your mind, focus on positive, healthy thoughts and envision yourself in a place that gives you comfort – whether real or imagined – then return there whenever anxiety creeps up. Music also often helps calm anxiety. Or watch TV or movies!