Using a Stop Phrase

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I have a tendency to overthink. At times overthinking leads to worrying. Admittedly, it is not always the best practice to put a great deal of time into analyzing.

what is a stop phrase?

One day during a counseling session years ago, my counselor recommended a technique to help take control of runaway thoughts: a stop phrase. It is a simple and easy tool you can take with you anywhere to help guide your mind in a better direction.

A stop phrase is a word or phrase to tell yourself whenever you notice thoughts getting a little out of hand to make the cycle cease. It is a word or phrase only you likely know. Honestly, I chose something not likely heard everyday, but in my mind more motivating than “stop”.

What are some examples?

My counselor recommended the word stop, which I guess is popular. The word stop seemed too bold. For me to use a word or phrase routinely, I did not desire a word to connote a sense of impeding danger. So I went with a safer phrase: let it go.

We are all different, and words invoke different emotions and feelings for us. So choose what works best for you. Honestly, I was tempted to use another language for the word no: non (French), nein (German), nei (Norwegian). But ultimately settled with a phrase in English.

How it works:

After saying your stop word or phrase, guide yourself to thinking about something positive and different. Whether you then decide to doodle, read a book, go for a walk, make yourself some warm tea, cook, etc. Give yourself the ability and freedom to think of other things. Let the stress and tension from stressful former thoughts ease.

Does it work?

It is not a cure-all, but I did realize a cycle of sometimes over-analyzing or over-thinking needed to be broken. And that it is possible to stop the cycle. I would say it helped.


Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical or psychological advice or a cure. Just sharing something which helped for me.