Thought stop: what does it consist of?

Recurrent negative thoughts are associated with anxiety and depression. One way to stop them is through thought stopping.

Last update: May 16, 2022

Think: that activity to which we are so encouraged, but for some people it becomes a trap. One of the techniques to overcome the inconveniences is the stop of the thought.

It is recommended when the type of thoughts that come to our head become repetitive, negative and seem to have no escape. Identifying them is a first step to then do something with them. How?

What are negative or ruminant thoughts?

Negative thoughts often present themselves as automatic, recurrent and associated with negative emotions. The person experiences them as intrusive, since they appear of nothing and then it is not possible to get rid of them.

They are also thoughts that usually take an extreme, absolutist and polar form, as if they were all or nothing. They do not contemplate nuances or intermediates.

They even reinforce themselves under ideas like “I am and like this and I can never change”. For this reason, they get bigger and bigger in an uninterrupted flow.

Also, these thoughts go hand in hand with unpleasant emotions (discomfort, sadness, anger), which in turn impact behavior. I think, feel and act conditioned by them. So, over time, they can trigger larger problems, such as anxiety, psychosomatic manifestations, and depression.

Thought stop: what does it consist of?

Thought stopping is a technique that it is used with the intention of stopping a loop of negative and ruminating thoughts. These are reproduced automatically and the person feels that he has little control over them.

Then you begin to experience anxiety and intense discomfort that becomes unbearable. So, this is one of the many strategies used to stop negative and intrusive thoughts.

Negative thoughts are repeated and become pessimistic actions for the person who cannot stop them.

How to implement thought stopping?

The technique can be applied in various ways. Ideally, the person chooses which one works best for them:

  • One of the ways is employ or make some movement that captures our attention. This interrupts that flow of thoughts and the brain pays attention to another stimulus. For example, tapping on the table or snapping your fingers.
  • Another way is choose some word that we will use each time we experience this anxiety. For example, “Enough”, “not”, “stop”.
  • There are also people who they change rooms as a strategy stop thinking.

It is important that the person can know their anxiety, in such a way to anticipate it and prevent the discomfort from increasing. For example, learn to identify the emotions that surround these intrusive thoughts and also if there is a physical correlate (sweating, tremors). In this sense, even though it seems that thoughts appear of nothingthey are actually associated with beliefs, values ​​and ways of thinking that we have.

Once we manage to interrupt negative thoughts, it is necessary to replace them with more positive and reassuring ones.

Thought stopping is a cognitive technique, very common in this type of therapy. Its effectiveness depends on practice and continuity. Many times, not getting immediate results, people get frustrated and discard it.

a concrete example

Maria has to take a biology exam. Two days before the exam she begins to express nerves and anxiety about that moment. Think “I’m useless, I’ve already failed other exams before, I’m sure I’ll do badly in this one”.

Instead, he orients himself to positive thoughts such as “It is true that the exam can be a difficult situation, but I have already had previous exams and I successfully faced them”.

Other Alternatives to Thought Stopping

There are also other techniques that can be applied alongside thought stopping. For example, controlled breathing or relaxation exercises, to help us regain calm.

Another possibility is, from recognizing our negative thoughts, questioning them and looking for facts that serve as evidence. Ask ourselves why it would go wrong if I prepared myself or if it is possible that we are overestimating an aspect of the situation. It is about questioning what appears as obvious or inevitable.

Learning to relax and control the flow of negative thoughts is key to keeping anxiety within acceptable limits.

thoughts are not reality

So many times we repeat some thoughts to ourselves, that we end up thinking that they are defined once and for all. We put them in a beyond which we cannot access.

Nevertheless, thoughts are built with influences, experiences, with the day to day and the immediate. Hence, we seldom take a moment to question its validity.

We must not forget that they are representations of something; ideas that we forge, but that we can change and must abandon if they are not functional for our objectives.

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