Thought Stopping – An Anger Management Tool 

What you think about impacts how you feel. The more you think about something that causes you to feel angry, the angrier you will feel. Thought stopping is an effective tool that can help you manage your anger.

When people feel angry, sometimes they tend to dwell on whatever caused them to feel that way. They ruminate about it. They re-play events in their mind over and over. They keep thinking about how upset they feel. The more they think about it, the more upset they become.

When people re-play events over and over in their mind, their thoughts aren’t productive. They aren’t able to problem-solve or come to any conclusions. Instead, they just suffer with their troublesome thoughts that provoke angry feelings.

For example, a wife is hurt by a comment her husband made to her. She starts re-playing his words over and over in her mind. She spends much of her day thinking about how he “acted like a jerk.” She convinces herself he must not even care about her very much. She has difficulty concentrating on her work and can’t shake her angry feelings. The more she thinks about it, the more she feels.

The above example shows how someone struggled to get an incident off her mind when she was upset. Thought-stopping is a skill that helps a person stop thinking about an upsetting event or incident. People use a variety of methods to get rid of these thoughts that are negatively impacting their emotions.

An example of a thought-stopping technique includes imagining a big stop sign in your mind. This can help you to change your thoughts by getting rid of the disturbing thoughts and replacing them with a different mental image. Other techniques include envisioning the image in your head shrinking until you can’t see it anymore. Or envision the thought floating away like a hot air balloon. Any creative way that you can think of that allows you to interrupt the thought can be helpful.

Thought stopping requires practice. People often report it doesn’t seem to work initially. However, with practice, people can become quite proficient at it. Thought stopping can help people regulate their emotions and calm down enough so that they can later re-visit the issue from a more rational approach.


One Response to “Thought Stopping – An Anger Management Tool”

  1. I recently read an article quoting Dr. John Gottman. He’s the famous relationship scientist who could reliably predict a couple would divorce based on just 3 minutes of observing them discussing their hot-button issues.

    It was basically stated that a lot of marital distress comes from spouses not being able to “forget” previous sources of conflict or frustration.

    Partner’s in healthy relationships, it was stated, are able to “forget” past relationship issues like a waitress or waiter who can simply forget a quickly memorized complex food order, right after it was reported to the cook.

    Thought-stopping can help couples do that healthy “forgetting” so that they can get on with their relationship repair process.

    It’s so nice to see such practical and well written posts like this one. Thank you and “Tweets away!”

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