Tools for Dealing with Repetitive Thinking



One of the main ways we make ourselves miserable is by repetitive thinking.  Very few of our thoughts are new; we recycle them again and again.  We ruminate about past traumas, feel indignant over ways we were slighted, or obsess about possible future problems.  Repetitive thinking can lead to depression and anxiety.

Below I am going to list many tools you can use when you find yourself trapped in this cycle.  They are not listed in any particular order.  If one doesn’t work for you at a given time, try another.

1)  Say “Be here now” to yourself and shift your focus to the present. Do that every time you find yourself thinking about the past, worrying about the future, or into repetitive thinking of other kinds. You may need to say the phrase hundreds of times a day when you start, but if you continue saying it and bringing your attention to the present, the repetitive thoughts will stop.  Remember that you are working to break an old habit and build a new one, and that takes time.

2)  When  you find yourself into repetitive thinking, bring single-minded focus to every moment. For instance, say to yourself “I am picking up my fork,” “I am holding my fork,” “I am picking up food with my fork,” “I am bringing my fork to my mouth,” “I am putting my food into my mouth,” I am chewing my food,” “I am swallowing my food,” etc.

3)  Pick an affirmation and say it at least 1,000 a day, or more, for 21 days.  Say your mantra internally, going as fast as you like. If unhelpful thoughts start coming at the same time, speed up the affirmation You can use any kind of affirmation. Some examples are “Be here now,” “I’m competent and capable,” “I let go,” “My needs are important,” “I am enough,” “I am smart,” “My life is unfolding as it should,”etc. Pick one affirmation and stick to the same one for the entire 21 days. It doesn’t matter if you believe what you are saying. What matters is that you want to believe it. If you say the affirmation in the 10,000 a day range, it may start flowing through your mind automatically, during the day and possibly throughout the night as well.

4)  Make a 3 second contract with yourself. Since repetitive thinking is a habit, you will probably find yourself in the midst of it without being aware it had started. You don’t break the contract when you find that you have been obsessing or over thinking for some time. You break the contract when you realize you are doing it and don’t start working to disrupt the thinking within 3 seconds.

5)  Distract yourself. Go for a walk, exercise, read, talk to a friend, etc.

6)  Write lists of what you are feeling mad, sad and/or scared about. Don’t spend time thinking about it; just write whatever comes to your mind in the moment, even if you end up writing the same thing over and over.

     I am mad that _______

     I am mad that _______

     I am mad that _______

     I am scared that _______

     I am sad that _______

     I am mad that ______

     I am scared that ______

     I am scared that ______


7)  If you are angry with someone and obsessing about that, do some anger work. Journal about your anger, write a poison pen letter telling the person off (and then destroy it), twist a towel and imagine yourself yelling at them, scream into a pillow. Stop when you feel a shift in your energy.  These techniques are for the purpose of releasing the angry energy in a way that doesn’t hurt yourself, others or the environment.

8)  Write a list of your scares in one column and in a second column write the truth about each situation.  For example:

If he leaves me I will die                           If he leaves me I will feel very sad but I will not die.

I have done nothing with my life           I have done many things with my life (and list them).

9)  Write a list of all the things in your life that you are grateful for.

10)  Each time you have a negative thought about someone else, write or say three positive things about them.

11)  Each time you have a negative thought about yourself, write or say three positive things about yourself.

12)  Most often fear needs information. If you are feeling afraid, ask yourself what information you need and then go get it.

13)  If you find yourself obsessing about a negative event from your past, write a list of the things you learned because that happened to you. Also, identify the skills you have today because that event occurred.

14)  A friend recently told me about a process she finds very helpful:

The moment you get a repetitive thought, write down what scares you about that thought; i.e., what is behind it that worries or frightens you? In a stream of consciousness way (don’t go back to read what you write), write down everything you’re afraid of that comes to mind until you run out. Then wad up the paper and burn it [or tear it up] and go about your business. Do this process daily and/or every time you get a thought you don’t want.

15)  Think what your life would be like if you were able to stop most of your repetitive thinking.  Hold that vision in front of you as you make moment to moment decisions about where you put your focus.

I hope you find these tools helpful.  I wish you the best on your journey towards a peaceful mind.


Written for Challenge for Growth Prompt #8: Stop (Repetitive) Thinking

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

17 thoughts on “Tools for Dealing with Repetitive Thinking

  1. Wonderful tips and thank you so very much!!! I will be using some of them for sure. I did not see this when you originally posted it but I am so happy I decided to look around here a bit to get more insight and help on personal growth topics. I hope you do not mind but I think this is so good and goes right along with my thinking corner post on positive thinking and the post on the prompt repetitive thinking. These tips are presented in a way I can understand them too….much gratitude, Annette

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I did very much!! I followed the directions you were giving easily so that means I will be able to apply these tips easily too. Believe me when you learn like my brain does you need things in plain terms…lol

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Annette's place and commented:
    These are some tips you can use when dealing with repetitive thinking. I have written a couple of post on the subject also in the past week or so. I like the way they are presented here as well as loving the tip itself. I find it hard to understand some things I read that involve a process i need to do or directional posts. This did not stump me and seems to be pretty straight forward. Plus, I really like the author!!


I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s