How to Stop Obsessing: 6 New Lifehacks

Sometimes, it is difficult to stop the flow of unpleasant thoughts that seem to rush into your head and do not give rest. We’ll tell you how to eliminate the anxiety and not get hung up on this state

What are obsessive thoughts?

Excessive emotions and repetitive dialogues occur spontaneously. You can do normal things or get ready for bed, but suddenly there is a thought that attracts all the attention. For many, it seems to get, causing discomfort, knocking down biorhythms and disrupting plans. Obsessive thinking is a series of images that are repeated in combination with negative perceptions. The severity of their effects can range from mild but irritating to severe and all-encompassing. Particularly debilitating cases that prevent a person from living a full life are considered in psychiatry as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Why do we think about unpleasant things

Psychologists do not have a clear answer to the question of where obsessive thoughts come from. According to one theory, repeated anxious thoughts indicate that a person has an unresolved issue and an unbroken life stage. It can be stress at work, relationship problems, or an unpleasant conversation with a stranger that happened a few days ago. But they are not always based on real events.

how to stop obsessing
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Everyone at least once went to work with the thought: “Am I sure I turned off the iron?”, which did not give rest until the evening. “Thinking can be a problem because it rarely offers new ideas or solutions to fix the situation,” writes psychotherapist Jodi Virgo[1]. Instead, they emotionally capture the person and amplify negative feelings.

Not thinking is not easy

It may seem that you just need to switch and forbid yourself to turn the same record in your head. But our mind works differently: when a person tries to avoid thinking, being under the influence of obsessive thoughts, the brain continues to remind them with greater force. This is the same principle that when you hear “don’t think of a pink elephant”, you will first imagine it. At the same time, thoughts without decisions and actions only take up time and emotional resources. They have no practical consequences, and in themselves they are unimportant. But this does not change the fact that people suffer from obsessive thinking. Here are a few principles that will help you deal with it:

Recognize the pattern of thinking

To overcome obsessive thoughts, you need to identify them. The patterns may be different, but most of them are repeated over and over again. If a person often gets stuck in a cognitive cycle, they turn into a habit that is more difficult to get rid of. This is similar to the tendency to bite your nails or check your email every few minutes, meaning that actions (or thoughts) occur unconsciously. If you find yourself in an obsessive cycle, study it carefully. As written by Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick in the OCD Workbook, it is worth “exploring these thoughts to understand how they arise and how you respond to them.”

Put your thought on paper

As soon as you write down the obsession in a notebook or phone notes, it will no longer cycle around in your head. But the work isn’t over yet. It is important to identify the root cause of the negative experience.

how to stop obsessing
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For example, you are concerned about the lack of response from a friend or you are worried that you were not good enough during your presentation. State the problem: “I’m upset because I assume that I have offended someone close to me” or “I’m afraid that I was not taken seriously because I was very nervous during the performance.”

Think about the solution

Sometimes obsessive thoughts are justified and require certain actions. If you really think you haven’t turned off the iron, ask a family member or neighbor to come in and check that everything is in order. When you are worried about problems in a relationship, it is easier to ask your partner directly if everything is all right, rather than oppressing yourself with destructive thoughts. Sometimes your thoughts cling to the past or run into the future, and you worry about future prospects. Try to learn from the experience and evaluate what can be done to minimize the stress of future changes.

Accept the isolation of thoughts

A difficult but important step in solving a problem is to recognize that your thoughts don’t always depend on you. This is a series of neurons that fire in the brain as a result of not always obvious reactions, associations, and experiences. Attempts to avoid obsessive thinking and forcibly get rid of it can only make the situation worse. The key to liberation may be acceptance, but not in the sense that you should give up and leave your mind to be torn apart by disturbing ideas. It is necessary to allow these thoughts to exist, to evaluate them, but not to try to control them.

Practice meditation and mindfulness

Obsessive thoughts cause discomfort, because they are accompanied by negative emotions. Meditation and mindfulness exercises will help you get rid of depressing experiences while you study the “enemy”. Psychologist Seth Meyers, in an article for Psychology Today, defines conscious thinking as “clearing and focusing on what your mind and body are feeling at the moment.”

how to stop obsessing
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If you have obsessive thoughts, try to perform a few simple breathing cycles, slowly counting to five on the inhale and exhale. You can Supplement the practice with physical exercises for “grounding”: fix yourself in space, standing on the floor and focusing on the feeling in your legs. Look around you, identify five things in turn that you feel with your senses in order to stay in the “here and now” state.

See a specialist

If obsessive thoughts are firmly entrenched in the mind, you can’t detect their root cause and eliminate, it is worth consulting with a psychologist. This should be done when you can’t cope on your own, and suffering and experiences cause problems: you do not get enough sleep, can’t focus on work or you are constantly in a bad mood. Obsessive thinking is a normal part of the human psyche. But it can also be a sign of diseases, including anxiety disorders, that require more careful study. the therapist will select suitable practices to free the mind for pleasant and necessary thoughts.

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