Interrupt those negative, life-draining thoughts that serve to maintain faulty brain wiring AND keep you looping in the familiar. The next time a negative thought, or the memory of pain or anger comes to mind, simply say to yourself "stop," "go away," or “I release you” and visualize yourself free and without this negative distraction. Learning to interrupt habitual, repetitive thoughts or distortions, called "thought stopping" or "thought interrupting" in CBT, can be a challenge, and definitely takes practice. So what do you do with the empty space once you decide to banish unhelpful thoughts? It's important to replace the negative cognitions with a more realistic thought or experience that is reassuring, beneficial and more aligned with the changes you'd like to make for yourself.
Okay, so sometimes thought stopping doesn't work. Why? For some, the CBT strategy of "thought interrupting" backfires, to such an extent that all they can think about is the thing, thought or feeling that they're trying to stop. If this describes you, then end the struggle because, for now, acceptance may be the most helpful solution.
What does acceptance look like? One example is: "I tend to worry about things a lot because I have a good imagination, but I can't really predict the outcome, so there's no need to take it so seriously," What next? "I'm going to leave this worry for now and designate a time to worry later" (a worry appointment). Then take action and get involved in an activity. You might not need to use your "designated worry time" later.
In my Manhattan therapy practice, many of my clients become so identified with the role of being wronged, the victim, or their pain, that giving this up becomes a real challenge. You have to want to give up negative feelings and other emotions that you imagine keep you connected to another person or situation. Are you allowed, and do you deserve to be free, happy and unburdened? Is is safe to change, and who do you leave behind when you give this up?