How to Stop Obsessive Thoughts?

If you have reached a point in your life where you want to be rid of the continuous torture of the “thought generating” mind then it’s your good fortune. Obsessive or negative thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.

Can you stop obsessive thoughts? – If you could it would be great, but the truth is that it’s slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.

So how to stop thinking horrible thoughts? The secret to stopping obsessive or negative thoughts is to detach from the mind. You cannot fight mind with the mind. That’s what this article is about. Let’s look at this in more detail.

What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?

If you generated thoughts, you could’ve controlled them too. The truth is that you don’t generate thoughts, the mind does. It’s on auto mode most of the time. You can see this for yourself, can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can’t how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?

If you believe that you are your mind, that’s a false notion again. If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.

So the mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess about them. So in truth all thoughts are just neutral energy forms, it’s “your” interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.

How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?

If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question – “is this question not another thought? It’s a thought about killing thoughts”. All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts will fail because you will be using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind, so how can the police man catch the thief?

So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.

What gives power to a thought? – Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you. You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don’t take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.

Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises. It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows – it’s just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?

With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them. You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don’t associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.

What Are Thoughts?

Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode. Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past “external” conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can positive or negative depending on the mind’s conditioning. Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It’s like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.

When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water. Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.

The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to negative thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts. The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without contracting your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.

You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it. This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum. Whenever it thinks negatively, don’t give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It’s really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.

The Practice of Watching the Mind

All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved. You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or “sadhana” as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.

Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all. That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.


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  • Sen(Author) says:

    Teja – The only reason you are so disturbed by negative thoughts is because you are “trying” to get “rid” of them. This means that you are “afraid” of your mind’s negative thoughts, and the truth is that anything that you fear keeps you tied to it. So the way out, is to consciously stop fearing the mind’s negative thoughts, and stay “allowing” of the mind when it produces these thoughts. Stay as a space of awareness, and allow the mind to produce these thoughts, fearlessly. They will soon lose a hold on your being.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Tulip – Once you relax and stop being so disturbed by the thoughts projected by the mind, regarding your sexuality, you will allow a space in which you are look at these thoughts in a more open manner. A lot of men and women feel some attraction towards the same gender, but also feel attracted to the opposite gender. Such tendencies in the human mind are totally fine, and you can experiment with what’s comfortable to you in your context and circumstance. Don’t take the mind too seriously, it’s only a machine, when you are free within you are allow expression to your mind’s desires, but it’s still your choice if you want to follow a different direction.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Casandrita – Your “attention” is the fuel for the mind’s momentum. Your mind is naturally oriented towards being inquisitive, but if its momentum is troubling you, it’s a sign that you, as the being, are becoming a prisoner to your mind. For a while, the practice of detaching your awareness from the mind, allowing yourself to stay as a detached witness of the mind will help increase the power of your awareness, and bring a stability into your being. Once you are stable in your awareness, your mind will not be able to exert as much pull on you, and you can actually start enjoying it’s movements instead of being disturbed by it.

  • Rajat says:

    Hello Sen, Your article is fabulous. What shall I do as soon as a negative thought drives in my mind? Shall I think something else or just look it as a witness?

  • Teja says:

    Dear Sen, I have read you article, it’s good but I need you help. I’m an OCD patient; I tried my level best to get rid of unnecessary negative thoughts but I can’t manage them. These negative thoughts disturb me much and are very intense in nature. I’m unable to concentrate on any other thing. Please suggest me the methods by which I can get rid of them.

  • Casandrita says:

    Hi Sen, what a fantastic article. The only challenge I have is what if I am actually interested in the random bits of nonsense my mind is presenting to my in a never ending stream? Everything I see, do, read, etc. inevitably results in presentation of questions by my mind.

    E.g., Driving down the road: Why poinsettias lights for Christmas, how does one get the drum off drum brakes (hear a noise), what company installed those solar panels, how can the price of gas fluctuate 5 cents over 10 hours, etc.? I thought about getting a voice recorder to record all these to facilitate research once I got home … but decided against it (probably wisely). As one can imagine, adding 20+ to do things to the list at the end of the day makes it so that I really get nothing of real value and/or importance done.

    But I truly need and want to know the answers to all these things. I am interested. My mind has me hostage and is trying to kill me. Sometimes there’s so much traffic I can’t sleep at night. Please help; I think my head is going to explode as I keep a running list of all these things until their mysteries have been solved.

  • Rafael says:

    Wow! Truly insightful article! If you can grasp what the author is saying you can pretty much completely do away with any type of OCD or negative obsessive thoughts. Beautiful!

  • Tulip says:

    Hello Sen, Of late I am going through lot of confusions in mind which is related to my orientation. I some times feel that I am getting attracted to the same gender however I would never ever want to lead such a life most of the times my thoughts are based on this which is disgusting. I consulted a psychiatrist and she told u are facing OCD and gave me some medicines and I went through a couple of self help on the internet and felt a little better.

    My questions is, are all these thoughts true? what happens when you go against your orientation which your mind sets which you don’t like? There are talks going on at home about my marriage and I am so scared that I wont be able to perform what I am required to the opposite gender. Why do these thoughts come in and spoil a person’s life?

  • Dan says:

    I have been suffering with intrusive thoughts about a person I hate for about six months. I thought of using the technique in this article but did not stay consistent with it but this is a conformation that it really will work, so thanks!

  • Ben says:

    This was interesting as the concept of this piece is very similar to Buddhist teachings which I have lately been studying. Following these steps and actions actually works, people have been doing it for centuries for a reason! :)

  • Joe says:

    I have been having really weird and disgusting thoughts but after this I hope it helps me by just not thinking about them (: I thank u!

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Donald – the only reason a pattern gains momentum in the mind is owing to our direct/indirect attention to it. We give it direct attention when we are lost in identification with it and we give it indirect attention when we fear it or try to escape it. Resistance and identification are both ways in which a thought patter (and thus a behavior pattern) gets strengthened. If a person suffering from an OCD pattern or TS, start developing the power of their awareness through a simple practice like staying as a detached witness of the mind’s movement, they will be able to gain stability in their awareness to the point where they are no longer dragged into identification with the mind’s movements – thus breaking the cycle of fueling the obsessiveness thoughts or behaviors, which eventually causes their dissolution.

    I’ve also given a biological perspective to this on my blog – at this post – which basically defines the process of how patterns get established and how the space of awareness can dissolve it.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Ketan – The problem is that you are trying to escape the thought because of your fear of it. Anything you try to resist will keep persisting because your resistance indirectly fuels the very thought you are resisting. If you want freedom from this thought, you will need to allow yourself allow it openly while staying an space of open awareness – I call this “consciously allowing the mind’s movement”. Don’t fear thoughts, they can’t have any influence on your vibration if you don’t resist them, it’s your fear of negative thoughts that gives them power over you.

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