Thought stopping is the habit of watching one's own thoughts and deciding when they are helpful or not. If they are not, you can literally say to yourself "I chose not to have this thought" and then actively think other thoughts or change what you are doing. Try it!
A lot of people feel they cannot do this simple thing. But it is not true in most cases. Habit is behind a lot of painful and intrusive thoughts. You can chose not to pay attention to a particular thought that wants to play in the field of your mind.
Unhappy thinking occurs with your mind is in a rut. You know you are in a rut with your thinking when there is never a clear answer to a problem, and when your friends and family are not as sympathetic or patient as they once were. But just as you got into a rut through repetition, refusing to think certain thoughts can get you out of it in most cases.
Finally, not all problems can be solved through a technique like thought stopping. If you have a problem that is so painful or disturbing that you are not able to stop thinking about it, you may want to try counseling or therapy. A supportive trained professional can give you the tools to move much more quickly through hard or intrusive thoughts.
Regards, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT 36764