You can't forget an embarrassing incident or a beautiful coffee shop waitress from your mind. Thoughts like these are common, but if they get too distracting, there are steps you can take to take your mind off them. Start by focusing your thoughts on this article.
Method 1 of 3: Trying to Stop the Thoughts
Step 1. Write down the things you think about
Your thoughts are interfering with your daily activities and making you feel unhappy, anxious, or worried, so the first thing to do is to write them down on paper. Write down all the things that bother you in order of the heaviest to the lightest.
- For example, if you're constantly worrying about losing your job, your list would look like this: 1. How do I pay my bills and take care of my child? 2. What if I can't find a new job? 3. I will be very embarrassed if I have to be accompanied by a security guard out of the office with a box containing my belongings.
- You will start the practice from the lightest mind.
Step 2. Imagine the thought
Sit or lie down in the room. Close your eyes. Imagine such a situation in your mind that bothers you.
Step 3. Stop the thought
Set the time, with a timer, clock, or alarm for three minutes. Then focus on the distracting thought. When the timer or alarm goes off, shout "Stop!" This is a sign where you need to clear your mind of these thoughts. Think of a planned thing (beach, etc.) and keep your mind on that image or thing for 30 seconds. If distracting thoughts come back during this time, shout "Stop!" once again.
- You can stand up when you say "Stop!" if you want, snap your fingers, or clap your hands. These actions will emphasize the "Stop" command and stop the thought.
- Apart from using a timer, you can also record your voice when you shout "Stop!" at intervals of one, two, or three minutes and use this recording to practice stopping the mind. When you hear a recorded voice shouting "Stop!", clear your mind for 30 seconds.
Step 4. Practice
Repeat this exercise until all thoughts are lost on command. Then try this exercise again and stop your thoughts by saying "Stop" in a normal tone, without shouting. If a casual tone can stop the thought, then try saying it in a whisper. Over time, you'll be able to picture the "Stop" sound in your mind. At this point, you should be able to stop thoughts whenever and wherever they arise. Once you have reached this level of control, select another distracting thought on your writing list and continue the process of stopping the thought.
Method 2 of 3: Keeping yourself busy
Step 1. Keep yourself active
Doing sports that require focusing on body movement and/or eye-hand coordination is a good way to clear your head. Plus, exercise also has benefits because it can produce neurotransmitter compounds to feel comfortable, namely endorphins that will improve your mood.
Step 2. Do something mind-blowing
Challenge yourself mentally by solving Sudoku or crossword puzzles, solving complex math problems, or following a complex set of instructions to complete a project. Mentally focused after doing this activity will not leave time or mental energy to think about unwanted things.
Step 3. Laugh
Laughter can take away your worries. When we laugh, the brain will participate and instruct the body to make a series of body language and sounds. Laughter will help reduce stress, so if your distracting thoughts are causing you anxiety, laughter is a great remedy for dealing with it. Hang out with friends who can make you laugh, watch a funny movie, or try a laugh yoga class. You can even find a therapist who specializes in "laughter therapy," who teaches you how to laugh at things that aren't funny and how to use humor to get through difficult situations.
Step 4. Speak
Often the best way to get a thought out of your head is to share it with someone else. Talk to a friend or family member who can listen to you well and share what you think. If you think these thoughts are too overwhelming to discuss with a friend, find a therapist or professional counselor who can help you.
Method 3 of 3: Using the Brain
Step 1. Practice receiving
If you're trying not to think about someone or something, you know it's impossible -- if it were that easy, you wouldn't be reading this article. In fact, research shows that it's better to accept unwanted thoughts than to reject them. In one study, participants who practiced accepting had less obsessions, lower levels of depression, and calmer than those who tried to suppress the thoughts.
Accepting the thought, which is also known as being aware of it, does not mean having to like it or even approve of it. You just have to accept it as part of the current reality. Let these thoughts stay in your mind and don't try to control or change them. In this way, you take away the power of the mind, so it will appear less frequently
Step 2. Use focused distractions
You may have tried to distract the thoughts you want to get out of your head, but have you tried focused distractions? Research shows that it's better to distract yourself with just one thing, as opposed to thinking about one thing after another to distract yourself from unwanted thoughts. Aimless distractions are associated with feelings of unhappiness, so choose a particular subject, book, or music to focus and give your full attention.
Step 3. Get rid of the thought
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that when a person writes down his thoughts on a piece of paper and then throws the paper away, he mentally also throws those thoughts away.
Step 4. Find the wisdom
If you're obsessed with mistakes you made and you're mentally reliving those mistakes, try taking them as a lesson. Ask yourself what the lessons were and what can be learned from your mistakes. Try to summarize it in one sentence and write it down.
Step 5. Give it time
If a situation or person has had a major impact on your life, it often takes you some time to really digest it. Especially if you've never been in a similar situation before, such as finding out that your partner is having an affair, witnessing a death, or being in a car accident. Thinking about the incident over and over is a natural way to digest it. And everyone is different, taking time to accept something doesn't mean you're weak or less than someone else who isn't.
Don't think "I have to stop thinking about ______" or "I can't think about _____" because it will only make you think more about that person or thing.
- Don't expect instant results. Even after trying to do all of the steps above, the thought of the person or situation that bothers you always seems to come up. Accept this as a natural part of your goal of moving forward, be patient with yourself, and move on with the awareness that this person or situation will eventually disappear from your mind over time.
- If that's what you're thinking, try talking to someone. That way, you'll be more focused on what the person is saying, not the thoughts that are bothering you.
- If you meet this person every day, imagine him or her as a different person in your mind.