How to deal with persistent thoughts

We can be challenged by our emotions from time to time. But when
patterns of negative thoughts arise, we may need to dig deeper inside
ourselves to address the issue. Obsessive thinking can be described as an
inability to gain control over our thoughts and emotions. Our day-to-day
activities may be infringed upon by overthinking and not letting thoughts
go. As a result, we may feel stressed, lose our sense of ourselves, and
struggle with daily tasks. What are the causes of persistent thoughts? Can
we alleviate them and go back to our normal selves? How can meditation
help resolve negative thinking and help us look at ourselves in a more
neutral way? Let’s explore.

Discovering persistent thoughts

Unknown causes may force us to think of an event, a person, or an experience in a
negative repetitive loop. From worrying to obsession, persistent thinking may
increase and generate more traumatic experiences if left untreated. Sometimes
linked to Obsessional Compulsive Behavior (OCB), persistent thinking can stem
from depression or anxiety.

Examples of obsessive thinking may include:

● The fear of losing a loved one
● The desire to be super organized
● Feeling useless or unvalued by others
● The willingness to hurt someone intentionally with an aggressive behavior

These thoughts usually just stay thoughts in our heads, but they are uncontrolled
and can result in stressful events. Obsessive thinking may result in any of the
following:

● Sleep paralysis: This is when we are caught into our sleep by a traumatic
experience and cannot move or fight against it. Our breath may suddenly
stop in the middle of the night. We are stuck in our dreams without the
ability to wake up.
● Panic disorder: This is when we may suddenly suffer from panic in a public
space or even at home. Sweating, having illusions, and feeling detached from
reality are common signs of a panic disorder.
● Generalized anxiety disorder: This disorder is linked to multiple worries
that we can’t control anymore, for instance, about work, home, or a
relationship with someone. They escalate and create a deep feeling of
disconnection within us.

There are three main types of obsessive thoughts and the earlier we can recognize
them, the better.
● Worry: This is when we feel anxious about events that haven’t occurred yet.
Our mind is trapped by a projection of something that has not even happened
yet, resulting in fears, for instance, of speaking in public or meeting someone.
● Rumination: This is an extended form of worrying. Rumination is a deeper
state of fear that is linked to past events. We may have a traumatic
experience that has created the root of the worry, about which we may have
persistent thoughts. Panic attacks may result from ruminating.
● Obsession: This results from recurring unwanted thoughts that trigger
undesired effects. Ideas and sensations (obsessions) are repeated and create
compulsions. Obsessive thinking can be the hallmark of deeper anxiety
disorders and should be treated.

Dealing with obsessive thinking

Obsessive thinking has numerous consequences for our general well-being and
mental health. If worrying can happen every now and then, compulsive behavior
and anxiety can develop into major disorders, such as depression.

There are three main ways to deal with persistent thoughts and return to an inner
state of calm and stability:

● Recognising persistent thoughts: Awareness is the first step to dealing
with persistent thoughts. We need to acknowledge that something is wrong
and that we are not responsible for it. Some external or internal causes may
have triggered obsessive thinking. Accepting our negative thoughts is the
first key step in dealing with them.
● Adapting coping strategies: We may journal and write down our different
states of mind and put a label on some emotions, sensations, or experiences
that occur during obsessive thinking. Labelling will help identify the causes
of the problem, and help find the best solution to resolve the issue.
● Asking for guidance: Therapy and sharing our inner selves with other
people can help us alleviate the pain. We may find support from groups
online or meeting new people in a group therapy setting. We may either seek
help from a traditional therapist or find support from a therapist online.

Embracing mindfulness practices

Mindfulness is the word on everyone’s lips these days. As the practice of going into
the present moment and considering everything around us with no judgment,
mindfulness can truly help in dealing with persistent thoughts.
Here are some of the various mindful ways to deal with persistent thoughts:
● Breathing while looking inside ourselves: We often forget how important
breathing is when feeling anxious or stressed. Paying attention to our breath
is one of the most important activities we can do to return to a normal,
present state of mind full of life and devoid of worries. Our natural breath is a
true guide in helping us feel more in the moment. Learning how to breathe
through mindful breathing techniques can relieve us from persistent
thoughts.
● Doing chakra healing meditation: Meditation, in general, is a sought-after
practice that people embrace all around the world. Chakra healing
meditation consists of working on each of the energy centers in the psychic
body and identifying where there might be imbalances. For instance, if we
feel lost, we may rebalance our sacral chakra with mantra singing and
breathing deeply within this chakra.

● Listening to a meditation app: For busy people with hectic lives or people
who love to wander, listening to great meditation programs can help us. We
can also remind ourselves of the beauty of life and of Buddhist practices that
teach us about the meaning of life. Reading uplifting messages from spiritual
thinkers such as Rumi or the Dalai Lama may change our way of thinking.
● Creating new thoughts: After we have found a path to healing, we need to
create new thoughts to replace our old persistent thinking. Journaling and
visualization are great practices to generate healthy, novel thoughts that
guide us toward a new area. Reprogramming our subconscious also can help
to feed us with positive guidance to direct us toward a new life without
obsessive thinking.

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