“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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