Negative thoughts overwhelming you? Here’s how to STOP them.
You know the moment.
When you go from thinking about something that went wrong to blaming yourself.
When you start off with “this sucks” and come to the conclusion “I suck” without realising it.
When you turn something over in your head, again and again, something that happened or was said, imagining what else you “should have said” or “should have done”.
When you can’t seem to escape the memory of trauma, the memory of hurt, replaying it and each time feeling the pain again.
It is easy to get caught up in this downwards spiral.
But there is a way out.
A simple way to STOP the thought train that rattles on at a 100 miles an hour, requiring only two simple steps:
1. Imagine a STOP sign. Yes, the one you see on streets.
But you need to imagine it vividly.
To picture it visually.
See it: red, hexagonal, the writing in white, bold capital letters.
When you can see it with your “mental eye”, move to step two.
2. Say the word “STOP”.
Say it aloud if you can, or just say it in your mind if you’re not alone and don’t want the people around you to look at you weirdly.
Your thought train has stopped, you can now choose to move to think about whatever else you’d like – I usually use the opportunity to think about something positive (kittens always seem to work for me 😊)
Now, the first few times, this exercise feels quite artificial. But it works. The more you use it, the easier and quicker it becomes to stop negative thoughts in their tracks, before they even establish themselves.
For those interested in theory: this method comes from cognitive-behavioural therapy – not my usual set of tools, but hey, whatever works! The way it does the job is that it literally takes your neuronal activity from one area of your brain to another – you get a different set of neurones firing. I have used this method with my clients, even those suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with great results and positive feedback.
Try it – and please let me know how it works for you!