Thought-stopping is a process of concentrating on an unwanted thought
and then suddenly stopping and clearing your mind. When you practice this
process repeatedly on an unwanted thought, over time the unwanted thought
occurs less often. Eventually the thought may not occur at all or will be easy
to dismiss immediately.
Identify your most stressful thoughts, those that interfere with other activities. You wish you could
stop having these thoughts, but they keep occurring.
Imagine the thought. Close your eyes. Imagine a situation in
which you might have this stressful thought. Then allow yourself to think and
even concentrate on the thought.
Interrupt the thought. Startling yourself is a good way to interrupt the thought. Try
one of these two techniques.
Set a timer or alarm clock for 3 minutes.
Then start thinking as explained in step 2. When the timer or alarm goes off,
shout "Stop!" You may accompany the shout with an action, such as raising your
hand or standing up. This is your cue to stop thinking about anything, empty
your mind, and try to keep it empty for about 30 seconds. If the upsetting
thought comes back during that time, shout "Stop!" again.
of using a timer, you may tape-record yourself loudly shouting "Stop!" at
intervals of 3 minutes, 2 minutes, and 1 minute. Proceed in the same way as
with the timer. Hearing your own voice commanding you to stop helps strengthen
your commitment to getting rid of the unwanted thought.
After practicing steps 1 through 3 on a thought
until the thought goes away on command, try the process again. This time
interrupt the thought with the word "Stop!" in a normal voice.
Finally, after your normal voice interrupts the thought
effectively, try whispering the word "Stop." Eventually you can just imagine
hearing "Stop" inside your mind. At this point, you can interrupt the thought
whenever and wherever it occurs.
Whenever the unwanted thought occurs, interrupt it as soon as you
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
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