How Can I Control My Thoughts?

Written by: Pard Bharaj



Time to read 3 min

“You can’t control your thoughts so there is no reason to care what you’re thinking”

Noah Thomas


Controlling one's thoughts can be a very challenging process primarily because the more we try to suppress or control our thoughts, the more persistent they can become. A helpful approach to dealing with intrusive or persistent thoughts is to shift from attempting to control them to observing and acknowledging them. 

Here's how I deal obsessive, unwanted thoughts. It's all a learning curve for me as well.

How Can I Control My Thoughts?

1. Accept That You Can't Control Your Thoughts: 

Recognise and remind yourself that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to control your thoughts directly. This acknowledgment can paradoxically lead to a sense of mental relief. By admitting this to yourself, your brain can begin to relax instead of being in a constant state of tension trying to control the uncontrollable. This 1st point is a game changer for obsessive anxious thinking & painful rumination.

2. Observe the Thought: 

Instead of engaging with the intrusive thought, simply observe it. Imagine it as a cloud passing in the sky or a leaf floating down a river. You're not trying to change its direction; you're just watching it drift by.

3. Question the Thought: 

Ask yourself, "How is this thought helping me? Is it useful?" Often, you'll find that many intrusive thoughts aren't particularly helpful or productive. Identifying this can reduce the thought's hold over you.

4. Don't Argue or Fight the Thought:  

Arguing with or trying to disprove the thought only gives it more energy. Instead, acknowledge its presence without getting entangled in a mental debate about its validity.

5. Let It Be:  

After acknowledging the thought and the feelings it brings, let it pass without further engagement. The goal is not to eradicate the thought but to reduce its influence over your emotions and behaviors.

6. Practice:  

Like any skill, reducing the intensity of intrusive thoughts through these steps requires practice. The more you practice observing, feeling, and letting thoughts pass without engagement, the less intense they will become over time.


In summary, the journey towards managing intrusive thoughts is less about control and more about acceptance, observation, and non-engagement. By acknowledging your thoughts and the emotions they bring without judgment or resistance, you can gradually diminish their impact on your life. 

Remember, this approach is a practice (I'm still learning this myself), and it's normal for the process to feel challenging at first. With time and persistence, however, you may find a greater sense of peace and mental freedom.

Please leave a comment, and ideas you may have on how you deal with obsessive thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are effective strategies for observing thoughts without engagement?

Effective strategies for observing thoughts without engagement include mindfulness meditation, where you focus on your breath and watch thoughts as they come and go without reacting to them. Another method is the 'Leaves on a Stream' exercise, where you envision each thought as a leaf floating down a stream, simply observing as it drifts by. Journaling can also be a way to observe thoughts, writing them down as they arise without further analysis. These practices encourage a detached view, helping to gain perspective on one’s inner dialogue.

Why is it important not to argue with or try to disprove intrusive thoughts?

It's important not to argue with or try to disprove intrusive thoughts because such engagement can reinforce them, giving them more energy and attention, which may make them stronger and more persistent. Acknowledging these thoughts without judgment and letting them pass helps in reducing their impact and frequency over time. This approach promotes a healthier mental space and prevents the cycle of rumination that can lead to increased anxiety and stress.

Can you explain how to practice feeling anxiety without fighting it?

To practice feeling anxiety without fighting it, adopt a mindful approach where you observe your anxiety with curiosity and without judgment. Breathe deeply and focus on where you feel the anxiety in your body. Acknowledge its presence and allow yourself to feel it fully, recognising that while uncomfortable, it is a temporary sensation that will pass. This acceptance can help reduce the power anxiety has over you and can lead to a more calm and centered state of mind.

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Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. My journey in the health and wellness field has been driven by a passion for understanding and sharing the most effective ways to maintain and improve health. Over the years, I have delved into a wide range of topics, constantly seeking out the latest research and insights. My commitment is to provide well-researched, accurate, and trustworthy information to help readers make informed decisions about their health.

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