It’s true that we all have maladaptive thoughts from time to time. However, when they take over our minds to the point we no longer function properly, they can lead to anxiety and chronic depression. So how to stop bad thoughts?
I have spent the last few years of my life struggling with mental health problems. My emotional responses were self-destructive to say the least and it almost ended in the worst possible way. Doctors prescribed anti-depressant after anti-depressant to bring me back from the brink, but none of them ever really worked. In-fact most of them made me worse in one way or another. Negative, maladaptive thoughts took over and my life was on a destructive downward spiral.
It wasn’t until I learned how to stop bad thoughts that I started to make progress with my recovery. The key is in the realisation that it’s not the trauma in our lives that cause our emotions to flip out. It is the way we think about the trauma. I realised that if I could find a way to think a little differently, I would be able to control my emotions much better and begin to live a normal life.
How to stop bad thoughts with the STOPP technique
The STOPP technique is a simple path to emotional regulation and it gives you a sense of control in situations that cause them stress and anxiety. It consists of an acronym that can be easily learned and used whenever you realise that negative thoughts are controlling your thought processes.
S – STOP! Take a moment to slow down for a second.
T – TAKE A BREATH. Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and then out through your mouth.
O – OBSERVE. Allow yourself to recognise the thoughts that are racing through your mind. Think about where your attention lies. What are you concentrating on most, right now, in this minute? What is it exactly that you are reacting to? Do you notice any physical sensations within your body?
P – PULL BACK and place the events in perspective. Think about current events in terms of the bigger picture. Imagine that you are an objective outsider watching yourself in the situation. Can you think of another way to interpret the situation? What would you say to someone else who asked you how to conduct themselves? Are your thoughts and feelings facts or are they just opinions? Finally, do you think this situation will matter in a few days, a few weeks or a few months from now?
P – PRACTICE techniques that work and proceed with your day. What CBT skills could you put into practice right now? For example, if you have been working to challenge your negative thoughts, could you make a conscious decision to identify cognitive distortions and replace them with more realistic thinking patterns instead?
If you would like some help assimilating STOPP into your life. Or maybe you just want to talk about your current mental health issues to a non-judgemental stranger? Please feel free to get in touch at my Facebook page, littlebroken