By John English and Orlando Zucchetto
So many of us fall victim to obsessive thinking, letting it drag us into a spiral of doubt, questioning, and fear. In fact, according to recent studies, the average person has around 6,000 thoughts per day. Of these thoughts, the National Science Foundation estimates that about 95% are repetitive from the day before. That’s 95% remembering and only 5% actual thinking!
We already know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. So why is it so hard to be more cognizant of our habitual thoughts?
With a few key techniques, you can combat obsessive thinking.
Coming to Terms with Obsessive Thinking
You might have heard the myth that we only use 10% of our brains. The fact is, you’re using all of it. This can yield some harmful thinking habits, if you’re not careful. But so much of our thoughts are, ironically, unconscious. Our minds have specific thought patterns, whether or not we choose them.
Before you can regain control over these thoughts, you need to recognize that they are there and then choose to change or leave them.
Here’s the process:
- Awareness: Notice your obsessive thought patterns.
- Analysis: Determine whether these thoughts are useful or not useful.
- Decision: Decide whether to change these thoughts or leave them as is.
Rather than letting your obsessive thinking run wild, you can train your brain to pause and observe these thoughts. Where are they coming from, and how are they serving you? By identifying the harmful ones, you can ban them for good.
Recognizing the Quality of Your Thoughts
It’s easy enough to say that you can force certain thoughts not to occur within your mind. For many, though, it’s difficult to do when put into practice.
Instead of trying to stop these thoughts altogether, try to create an inner volume controller. In other words, try to illuminate the quality of each individual thought. Is it actually valuable, or just repetitive?
By dropping the thoughts that do not serve you, you can clear up space in your mind for the beneficial ones. You can let those other thoughts go entirely, or file them away for later when you are able to take action.
Changing Your Thought Patterns
Once you start making distinctions within your thought patterns, you will start losing interest in holding onto those negative thoughts. You’ll notice what you changed, making it much easier to recognize those patterns when they start creeping in again.
These are the main stages:
- VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic) distinctions change: You’ll start viewing things in a different light, with a renewed appreciation for the world around you.
- Celebration of your awesome unconscious mind: No matter where it’s taken you before, you’ll be able to see your unconscious mind as amazing and powerful.
- Making improvements: Your new patterns of positive thinking will lead you to make other improvements to your life, leading to a faster, easier, and less stressful way of living.
With this experiment, you can allocate your thought space into something useful and beneficial. You’re essentially choosing what you think about instead of allowing old patterns to re-emerge.
Every thought that you re-code, re-file, and re-program equals a positive change. Think of it in simple mathematical terms: In an algorithm, changing any variable will lead to a changed outcome. If you’re constantly feeling stuck with obsessive thinking, you have the power to change those variables and create a new, positive outcome for yourself.
Learning to Stop Obsessive Thinking
Learning to stop obsessive thinking involves changing your thoughts and behavioral patterns. You can use NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) strategies, an effective method for treating anything from phobias to anxiety. It can help with obsessive thinking, too.
NLP techniques use a combination of perception and behavior in order to regain control over one’s thoughts and actions. By learning to identify obsessive thoughts, you can replace them with ones that are more constructive.
Let’s say you have a number of tasks to complete for the day. To organize them, you write each down on a to-do list to help you be more productive.
While this can help you remember everything, what happens when you start repeating each item on the list to yourself? You try to take out each task one by one, but you can’t stop overthinking the workload as a whole, even as you’re trying to relax. You end up stressed, stuck, and hardly able to do any of it.
Think about it. What is truly at play here? What part of you is causing this inner dialogue, constantly thinking and repeating these tasks even when you’re not working on them?
Once you’ve identified the source of that inner voice, you can redirect those thought patterns in a way that has proven to be productive. In this case, it’s breaking up those tasks and focusing on them individually rather than allowing all of them to run through your mind constantly. It takes conscious effort at first, but you can train your brain to stop all that unnecessary chatter.
Freeing Your Mind
If you feel trapped by patterns of obsessive thinking, this doesn’t have to be your permanent reality. You have the power to notice these thoughts and gain control of them. By identifying the thoughts that don’t matter, you can free your mind to focus on the ones that do.
About the Authors
Orlando Zucchetto is a New Zealand born, NLP Coaching Trainer, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Design Human Engineer. In 2018 he was invited to join the International Training teams for Dr Richard Bandler (Co-Creator NLP) and renowned Hypnotist Paul McKenna, enabling him to stay at the cutting edge of these developing fields, while continuing to deliver training/coaching in London and online to clients around the globe.
John English is an expert communication trainer, helping well over 2,000 happy students learn how to communicate more effectively with their teams and improve their public speaking skills. He helps sales professionals communicate more effectively with customers and prospects. He also consults and assists corporate professionals in getting the most out of their negotiations.