As you probably know, thoughts tend to run through our minds all the time. From the moment we wake up until we fall asleep, there are thoughts running amuck in the brain. In fact, if you try to quiet your thoughts for a minute, you may find it difficult. This is why those who meditate “practice” the technique, because random thoughts just fly in when they want.
Thoughts don’t usually pose a problem, but when you stay stuck on a topic or your thoughts become obsessive, you can run into some problems. Obsessive thinking is when you obsess or stay focused on a particular thought or thoughts much of the time. You may focus on them so much that you’re not thinking about things you should, like getting things done around the house or at work.
For example, Dawn thinks about getting sick a lot. She fears getting sick and dying an early death, and she obsesses about this all day and evening. She has a tough time falling asleep due to the fearful thoughts and wakes up multiple time still obsessing. It is beginning to really cause her some grief, as she is not very present emotionally for her husband or children. She is also slacking at work. In order to contend with this obsessive thinking, Dawn will have to first recognize this is what’s going on and then do something about it.
Here are some ways you can reduce obsessive thinking:
Think about possibility and probability. If your obsessed with thoughts that are irrational (birds attacking you, getting deathly sick, snake in your bed, etc.) really take the time to think about the possibility and probability of those things happening. The chances of the actual worry for many people are very slim. Even if it is possible, worrying or obsessing about it won’t make anything better.
Practice thought stopping. For this method, you use guided imagery to imagine that the irrational thought does occur. Picture it happening on a movie screen and as soon as you see and feel it, shout out very loud, “STOP!” This will interrupt the thought process and reduce the frequency of it occurring. Every time you start having the irrational thought, use the guided imagery and say “STOP” out loud or under your breath. Over time, the obsessive thoughts are apt to decrease.
Perform a task that requires your full attention. If you’re obsessing about food, for example, when thoughts come up about it, redirect your thoughts by engaging in a task that requires your full attention. You may want to make a craft or follow a recipe to make a nice dinner. When you have to concentrate on another task, you will reduce your thoughts about the food or whatever else it is you’re obsessing about.
Self Help. If you cannot get your obsessive thoughts under control on your own, have a look at my self help material that is available for you to start right away. Find out more
You don’t have to keep struggling with obsessive thoughts. It may take some time, but you can learn how to redirect and decrease obsessive thinking.