How to stop obsessive thoughts

“I can’t stop thinking about it, and it’s exhausting,”

It’s like a mambo Jumbo of thoughts that spin in your head over and over and over. ARG! How could we get off this train, please?

Why do we have obsessive thoughts?

I believe that it starts with anxiety. Anxiety over a relationship that isn’t good for us, anxiety over a love that isn’t returned, anxiety over socially negative and awkward situations, anxiety over looking stupid in front of other people, anxiety over feeling like we are never good enough.

Sometimes it’s an event that will trigger us, sometimes it’s a relationship, sometimes it could be as ridiculous as a bad driver or a negative encounter at the store.

While It’s normal to think about something that has upset or triggered us, there can come a point where our obsessive thoughts become unhealthy. If it gets to the point where you are unable to get it out of your mind and makes you lash out at people who didn’t do anything wrong, then you are ruminating.

This act of ruminating will cause you to keep focusing on the negative over and over and over again without ever being able to focus on the solution. 

The problem is that when we inadvertently allow ourselves to obsess over a thought, we create a pattern in our brain. We become used to obsessing over thoughts, and this way of being, becomes our pattern. It becomes our normal.

Constantly worrying is almost like a comfort zone. It’s almost as if we feel that if we don’t think about the problem enough, then we will not find a solution for it. 

The reality is that when we have obsessive thoughts, they obstruct our ability to find solutions, to live our lives, and to appreciate the people around us. 

Letting go of those thoughts will be much more beneficial than ruminating over them and there are things that you can do to stop obsessing over thoughts. 

Write about it in a journal and then put the journal away

When we find ourselves obsessing over a thought, we need to find a way to put the thought away. Starting a journal and writing about it can be beneficial for two reasons. One, you let it out of your system, and two, when you write the problem down, your thoughts are officially recorded and can’t be forgotten. They are written down so you can allow yourself to rest. Your thoughts are in that journal and you can access them any time you need to. Therefore, once you put the journal away, you will send your brain a signal that it’s time to let go now. 

 If the thoughts creep back in, pick up the journal, read what you wrote. If you have to,  write some more. 

Keep yourself busy

It is so important to have things going in your life. Exercise routines, gym classes, dance classes, painting, music, tutoring, friends.  Take a new class, learn a new skill. You need to fill up your life with exciting things to do and you will see that there will be moments where the obsessive thoughts will not be in your mind. It will give you relief, not to mention that a life that is well-lived is much healthier than a life spent watching tv in your downtime. Fill up your schedule and give your brain a chance to develop a new pattern. If you physically start to lead a proactive life, then the brain will follow you and begin changing patterns.

Talk to a psychotherapist 

It is always beneficial to seek professional help. After all, if you have a stomach ache, or if you break your leg, you go see a doctor. Your brain deserves the same treatment. It is an organ in your body, just like your kidneys or appendix. Sometimes it needs tending too, a little tune-up. A psychotherapist will help you rewire those negative patterns through conversation. You will feel much better and you will give your mind a chance to heal. 

Try alternative therapy

There are many forms of alternative therapies out there. There is art therapy, music therapy, zootherapy, and many more. You can do a bit of research and find the one that speaks to you. As a certified zootherapist, I have personally seen how beneficial my animals and activities were to troubled children and people suffering from mental health problems. Alternative therapies are lovely because you are taken care of by a person whose goal is to accompany you towards better being all while performing a very pleasant activity with a trained professional who will know how to gently guide you towards healing. 

Read or listen to podcasts

Listening to or reading about self-help will open your mind to new ways of thinking and feeling. For one, knowing that you are not the only person in the world who ruminates over obsessive thoughts might help you become self-conscious of when it starts creeping in. Learning about mindfulness, focusing on the positive, and listening to your needs, will be helpful in rewiring your brain to finally let go of the obsessive thoughts. 

Be careful not to burden your friends and family

It’s important to talk about our problems to people because talking about them helps validate what we are feeling. But if we do it constantly, and never talk about anything else, then people around us will start feeling like we always drag them down with our negativity. They eventually will not want to be around us anymore. Relationships are an energy exchange. If you are always the one who requires people’s attention and energy but never gives back in return, the relationship will not be balanced.  Therefore find other alternatives to expressing yourself, such as the ones I mentioned above, and be mindful of the people who love you and are around you. Try and focus on them for a change, see how they feel, what’s new, and what they want to talk about. Dive into their world for a little. They will appreciate you more for it and it might even give you a small break from your obsessive thoughts.

Learning to Listen to your needs

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