HAS ANYONE OUT THERE NOTICED THAT CERTAIN SITUATION OR RELATIONAL THOUGHTS HAVE A LIFESPAN OF 2-3 DAYS BEFORE THEY WEAR OFF AND GIVE US SOME PEACE? I HAVE SOMETIMES THROUGH THE YEARS. AND WHEN YOU'RE AWARE OF THIS, YOU CAN BIDE YOUR TIME AND RELAX, KNOWING MOST TIMES, IT WILL GO AWAY OF IT'S OWN ACCORD IF WE DON'T INDULGE IN THOSE THOUGHTS AND TIE OURSELVES UP IN KNOTS. IT'S HELPFUL TO KNOW HOW SHORT THE LIFE-SPAN OF THOSE THOUGHTS (like an obsession) WILL BE. ALSO, YOU CAN FIND WAYS OF DEALING WITH BOTHERSOME THOUGHTS (on a certain day) RIGHT HERE. I DID SOME RESEARCH ON THESE AND WILL SHOW YOU WHAT I FOUND.
Ways To Let Go Of Stuck Thoughts
By Therese J. Borchard from Psychcentral.Com
Stuck thoughts… the brick walls that form a prison around your mind. The harder you try to get rid of them, the more powerful they become.
I’ve been wrestling with stuck thoughts ever since I was in fourth grade. The content or nature of the obsessions have morphed into many different animals over the course of 30-plus years, but their intensity and frequency remains unchanged.
Here are some strategies I use when they make a surprise visit, techniques that help me free myself from their hold.
1. Don’t Talk Back
The first thing you want to do when you get an intrusive thought is to respond with logic. By talking back, you think you can quiet the voice. However, you actually empower the voice. You give it an opportunity to debate with you and make its case. The more you analyze the obsession — “That is a silly thought because of reasons A, B, and C” — the more attention you give it and the more intense it becomes.
In “The Mindful Way through Depression,” authors Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn write, “Sorting things out and forcing a solution will always seem like the most compelling thing to do … but in fact focusing on these issues in this way is using exactly the wrong tools for the task.”
2. Know It Will Pass
I can do anything for a minute. Most things for an hour. A considerable amount for a day or two or three.
Most of my intrusive thoughts — the intense phase, anyway — have a lifespan of two or three days. I find the obsessions much more manageable when I compare them to the cravings for alcohol I experienced in my first years of sobriety. They came with intensity and then they left. All I had to do was to bear with them for 24 hours and refrain from doing anything stupid. Then my brain would be mine again.
Your stuck thoughts are not permanent. They will be gone soon enough.
3. Focus On Now
Your stuck thought is most likely based in the past (feelings of regret, etc.) or the future. Rarely are we obsessed about something that is happening in the present because we are too busy living this moment. It can seem impossible to engage with what’s happening in our world in real time when we have a riveting made-for-TV drama unfolding in our heads, but the more successful we are at tuning into the here and now, the less tormented we will be by our stuck thoughts. I try to be around people and have conversations so that I have to concentrate on what they are saying to me, not the text messages of my chattering mind.
4. Tune Into The Senses
An effective way to anchor your mind in the here and now — and away from the obsession du jour — is to tune into the senses. Our five portals to the world — seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and hearing — can transition us from the doing mode to the being mode. For example, I was tucking my daughter into bed the other night as I obsessed about something that had happened that day: theorizing why it occurred and arriving at 342 solutions to solve the problem. My daughter grabbed my hand to hold, and it occurred to me that I was missing out on a precious moment because of some stupid stuck thought. So I made a conscious effort to focus on her little hand in mine, her soft, babyish skin against my weathered hands. Concentrating on her hand led me out of my head and into reality.
5. Do Something Else
If you can, distract yourself with some other activity. You need not start an ambitious project to change gears. I mean, painting your bathroom walls could definitely do the job, but so could walking around the block or working on a word puzzle.
6. Change Your Obsession
You might try to replace your obsession with another one that isn’t so emotional or damaging. Example: I was obsessing about something the other day when I headed to Panera Bread to write. I was intent on getting a booth, so I hung out at one of the smaller tables until I could secure one. I studied the people, their gestures… are they leaving?
Another woman who uses Panera as her office came in with her laptop and was also scouting tables to set up shop. I panicked. I knew she wanted a booth too. All of a sudden, all I could think about was securing a booth before she did. My old obsession vanished in light of this new, benign obsession.
7. Blame The Chemistry
I experience great relief when I remember that I am not obsessing about something because that thing is crucial to my existence and should replace priorities one, two, and three, but rather because the special biochemistry inside my head is wired to ruminate a lot. The subject of the obsessions isn’t all that important. There is no catastrophic problem that needs to be solved in the next 24 hours. In fact, the unstuck thought might be 100 percent fluff, a made-up story the brain fabricated because it couldn’t find anything interesting enough in real life to warrant ruminations.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Stuck Thoughts?
Stress Adversely Affects Brain Function
When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can return to normal functioning easily. This results in few, if any, lingering negative effects.
When stress responses occur too frequently, however, such as from behaving overly anxiously, the body has a more difficult time recovering. This can result in the body remaining in a state of hyperstimulation, since stress hormones are stimulants. In other words, behaving overly apprehensively can overly stress the body. A body that becomes overly stressed can behave in odd ways. Regarding stuck thoughts, persistently elevated stress has a negative effect on brain function. For example:
Stress Changes How The Brain Functions
While there are many changes that occur, the following are the most important to note regarding stuck thoughts:
Stress Increases The Electrical Activity In The Brain
Increased electrical activity in the brain will cause an increase in thought generation. This increased thought generation can cause thoughts to replay over and over again.
Stress Heightens The Activity In The Amygdala
The fear center and suppresses activity in the cortex (the rationalization areas of the brain). This change can cause thoughts to take on a more ominous tone with a reduced ability to dismiss them.
This combination alone can cause thoughts to seemingly become stuck.
How To Get Rid Of The Stuck Thoughts Anxiety Symptoms?
Some short-term strategies to eliminate the stuck thoughts anxiety symptoms include:
Reducing the body’s stress is the best way to eliminate stuck thoughts, since stress is a major cause.
Increase Your Rest And Relaxation
Since a major cause of stuck thoughts is stress and fatigue, increasing your body’s rest can help the brain eliminate stuck thoughts.
Get Good Sleep
Resting the body, including getting good sleep, often eliminates stuck thoughts once the body has caught up on its sleep debt.
The less you reinforce stuck thoughts the faster they disappear. Recovery Support members can read about how neural networks work in Chapter 5.
Refuse To Allow Yourself To Dwell On Stuck Thoughts
Research has shown that suppressing thoughts and memories can actually eliminate them in time. Here is another example of how neural networks work.
Deliberately changing your focus can eliminate stuck thoughts in time.
Don’t Make A Big Deal Out Of Stuck Thoughts
Stuck thoughts are just symptoms of elevated stress and/or fatigue. Making a big deal out of stuck thoughts makes them stronger. Not caring about them can help them subside.
Don’t Worry About Stuck Thoughts
Worry stresses the body, which can keep stuck thoughts going. Not worrying about them reduces stress, which can help eliminate them.
If you are dealing with stuck thoughts or unwanted thoughts because of a struggle with anxiety, such as with OCD, you may want to work with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist to help you better understand this symptom, deal with the underlying factors that may be contributing to this symptom, and help you learn how to contain. Doing the right work can completely eliminate a struggle with ‘stuck’ and ‘unwanted’ thoughts.