It is very annoying when you try everything you can to stop thinking about something, but you can’t? It’s almost like telling someone not to look, but then they look anyway. This concept applies to you, as you tell yourself over and over that you don’t want to think about something, but you do anyway. It’s the law of attraction in action—whatever you’re focusing on expands. But how do you get your mind off of something that bothers you?
Here are five things you can do in your daily life to help you get rid of those nasty thoughts:
How to stop thinking about something
1. Distract yourself
The mind, body, and soul are inextricably linked. Therefore, you can get your mind off the thoughts you don’t want to think about by doing something physical and enjoyable with your body.
Doing something physical to distract yourself is sometimes the best approach to getting your mind off something. You could exercise, play an instrument, dance, or do anything that can divert your attention away from what you don’t want to be thinking about.
In other words, keeping your mind occupied with activities can help you avoid thinking about something that’s troubling you.
2. Talk to someone you trust
Sometimes the things in our heads need to be let out. Even if you don’t want to, if you keep the thoughts in your head, you may find yourself thinking about them.
It’s also very beneficial to let the person you are talking to know that this is something you can’t stop thinking about. You don’t necessarily have to reveal the specifics of your thoughts, but just revealing that little helps to relieve some of the stress you are feeling.
Talking to someone can also help you understand why you’re thinking about something, and the ideas may fade away as a result.
3. Do mindfulness exercises
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on being present in the moment, without judgment or the interpretation of feelings and sensations.
Meditation and mindfulness exercises can relax the body and mind. It has been proven to help ease stress.
Your attention is focused on the present situation while you consciously ignore the things you don’t want to think about. Admittedly, mindfulness exercises and meditation do require a lot of effort, but the more you do them, the easier it becomes to stay focused.
4. Reframe your thoughts
If you’ve tried everything you can to keep the thoughts out of your head but still can’t stop thinking about them, reframe the thought.
Try to think of the thought in a different way. Could there be a positive spin in this? Could this actually benefit you in the long run? And also try to think of why you may be so obsessed with this thought. Finding a resolution or the root of the thought may help you get rid of it.
Also, remind yourself that you have control over your thoughts and it does not have power over you. Fill your mind with things you enjoy thinking about instead.
5. Write down your thoughts
Just as talking to someone about your inner thoughts can be therapeutic, so can writing be.
It may help to write what you can’t stop thinking about in a journal or on a piece of paper to get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama were said to have this practice where they’d write angry, “hot letters” to people, but would never send it. This practice allows you to get out whatever is in your head. It’s like an emotional catharsis—a way of letting it all out without the confrontation and repercussions. It’s also a strategic catharsis because you are allowing yourself to say what you really think, without consequences.
Some people choose to tear up or burn the paper, which can also be helpful. The tearing up or burning of the paper symbolizes the dissolution of the thought.