Putting a Stop to Unwanted Thoughts and Behaviors – West Valley Counseling Center

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16 Oct

Putting a Stop to Unwanted Thoughts and Behaviors

“The use of 'thought stopping' is meant to make the user aware of unhealthy thought chains. When followed with positive and reassuring statements, thought stopping is meant to give the user a sense of control, breaking negative thought habits while reinforcing a sense of reassurance.”

Your thoughts influence how you feel and how you behave.

For example, if your thoughts are focused on worry or doubt, you may begin to feel a sense of helplessness, anxiousness or a lack of confidence. Your behaviors then mirror your feelings. You avoid trying new things or you don’t participate in the things you once enjoyed. This does not mean that your thoughts are solely behind your troubling symptoms.

There are biological, environmental and other causes contributing to your thoughts.

A cognitive technique previously popular in scientific literature that is called "thought stopping" or "thought suppression" uses a variety of strategies in order to help a person deliberately try and stop thinking certain thoughts. The basis of this technique involves consciously issuing the command, “Stop!” when experiencing repeated negative, unnecessary or distorted thoughts. Some individuals are even encouraged to wear a rubber band around their wrist and snap it when they have these thoughts in order to create a painful stinging sensation meant to interrupt the “bad thoughts” or habits.

The use of thought stopping is meant to make the user aware of unhealthy thought chains. When followed with positive and reassuring statements, thought stopping is meant to give the user a sense of control, breaking negative thought habits while reinforcing a sense of reassurance.

Unfortunately, our thoughts respond like an oppositional two year old. The harder we try to remove a though from our mind, the more persistent it becomes in maintaining our attention. Most unwanted thoughts are very much like an oppositional two year old and as most of us know, you’re better off working with a screaming two year old than attempting to ignore him. If I were to suggest that you avoid thinking about pink elephants or fluffy white teddy bears you can imagine how difficult that might become. Truth is, if thought stopping worked no one would be troubled with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Cognitive restructuringis one method that often proves helpful. This process helps individuals identify and change their negative thoughts into more helpful and adaptive responses. Most often done in therapy, cognitive restructuring involves a step-by-step process whereby negative thoughts are identified, evaluated for accuracy, and then replaced. Although at first it is difficult to think in this new style, over time and with practice, more positive and rational thoughts will come more naturally.

Cognitive restructuring is just one of a number of therapeutic methods that we work with at West Valley Counseling Center.

Feel free to leave your comments or questions here on our blog or contact us directly for more details.

For more information or to speak to one of our staff, please contact us at (818) 758-9450 or email us at info@westvalleycounseling.org

West Valley Counseling Center is located at 19634 Ventura Blvd. Suite 212 Tarzana, CA 91356