Do you ever feel your thoughts are out of control?
Are you in a never ending circle of worry about something you should have done or something you should not have done? Are money worries, work worries or relationship worries filling your head?
It can seem impossible to think about anything else and for most of us the only option seems to be to try to push these thoughts out of our minds.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that thought suppression does not work. Trying to push thoughts from our minds just makes them come back stronger. It’s a bit like saying to someone don’t think of a pink elephant. What’s the first thing you think of? Yep a pink elephant.
So, what can we do instead?
Try these top tips
Although suppressing a thought isn’t a good idea long term as it increases its intensity you can delay it.
Creating a 30 minute ‘worry period’ can be effective and bypass the need to suppress.
Knowing that you have a specific time where you are allowed to actively worry can allow your mind to relax the rest of the time.
Focussed worry in this way can be beneficial so why not set up your own ‘worry schedule’.
2. Paradoxical therapy.
Do you feel you need something a bit more hard-core? Then concentrate on the worry. This principle is based on the long-established practice of ‘exposure therapy’. By exposing ourselves slowly but regularly to something we fear it enables the fear to fade.
This method, research suggests can be particularly effective when tacking obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour.
If boot camp style isn’t your thing then why not try acceptance instead. Although it some ways it’s similar to Paradoxical therapy it is a much gentler approach.
Accepting that you have unwanted thoughts can be the first step in letting them go.
Imagine that you are looking up at a blue sky, your unwanted thoughts are the grey clouds passing overhead. You can’t make those clouds disappear you just have to watch and wait for them to pass so that you can see the blue sky again.
4. Focus on your good points.
Studies have shown that by recognising and focusing on all the good qualities we have it can increase our social confidence and improve self control.
This can have a knock on effect and help us manage our negative thoughts. So why not get a pen and paper and write down all the wonderful qualities you have?
5. Avoid Stress.
Although it may seem like a good idea to have so much to do or to think about so that you don’t have time to think about ‘the thing’ it isn’t an effective strategy.
Studies show that the more stressed we become the more likely it is for unwanted thoughts to resurface, so find some time to relax each day.
Want to know the science behind this? Have a look at the research here.
Do you have any tips that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you so why not drop us a comment?