Stop That Dreadful Thought Loop That Drives You Crazy

Tips On How To Build Confidence In Communication So You Can Be Happier

Have you ever felt this way?  Have you ever sent a communication response and regretted it? Have you ever said these things in your head?

  • I wish I didn’t say that.
  • I wish I would have said that better.
  • I wish I could take that back.
  • Can I delete that email?
  • I didn’t mean it like that.
  • I feel bad they took that the wrong way.

I know I have thought those thoughts.  And I don’t think I am alone.

If I had a nickel for how many times statements like that went through my head, I would be rich.  We all deal with these scenarios that cause us to regret something we said or did, sometimes daily.  And unfortunately, if you say the wrong thing, you cannot take it back.  Even if you apologize, the sting for the other person may still be there.

And then we replay it…over and over and over.  We dwell on what we did or said and how it could have been better.

Why do we do this to ourselves? How can we stop it? How do we prevent it not only for ourselves, but aim to do the right thing, be kind and set boundaries?

It’s incredible how our thoughts can rule us. They can take over our good mood. They can ruin our sleep and even our health. They can give us back pains, a neck cramp, or eye twitches. Negative thought patterns created stress and anxiety that can be paralyzing and devastating.

Years ago, I started working on my thought process because I recognized the agony my own consuming thoughts would have over me. Now, I have learned to manage my behavior and thoughts better, and things don’t stick with me like they used to. My husband is also on the same track.  He was also someone who kept repeating scenarios over and over in his head. He now has the same tools to stop the dwelling thought pattern.

It’s so freeing to let conversations or situations that are triggers go and move forward.

In the past, I have had a few situations arise where I needed to step back. The challenges stem from poor leadership.  It’s sad to say that both of them do. I feel there is an abundance of non-inspiring leadership in a world that is preaching kindness, empathy, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. I have learned that if I respond quickly, the fact that it stems from poor leadership eats at me more.  Instead, I took a step back and responded 48 hours later. The time created space and lessened the intense emotions associated with what was said.  I gave myself enough time to evaluate the players, their intentions, their background, and their skillset. Often, their skillset does not include change and self-reflection, which became part of how I choose to respond as well.

I often say, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

Up until a few years ago, I never focused on stopping, breathing, and just taking a moment.

Taking that time has helped so much to create space and clarity. I take the time now to think.  Mull over different situations and possible outcomes and think about what can happen if I choose various paths in communication. I realized that no one needs to hear back from you right away.

These are the steps that I regularly take to move through tough situations.

  1. Recognize the trigger

Recognizing the trigger is a crucial step in not saying something you regret. The majority of my life, I never even knew what a trigger was.  Now we use that word in our household regularly. The word trigger is a “friend.” We recognize what things upset us, and we embrace it, accept it.  Get comfortable thinking and talking about your triggers. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if you could openly share what triggers you, so the other person realizes it and changes their behavior or vice versa? Open communication and awareness can free up so much mental space and lead to better relationships.

   2. Stop

Just stop. Stop dead in your tracks.  Do not respond. You don’t need to respond to every text, email, voicemail, social media post right away.

It’s fun to change your mindset that you are busy and a VIP and don’t have time to get back to them right away. Stopping and taking a time out creates space to calm down, focus, evaluate the situation and make some choices.

   3. Use the Time

Use the time to think and evaluate. Spend time reviewing the scenario. What did that person mean? Is it a conversation vs. an email back? Do I keep my response short and sweet? Is it worth responding at all?  Or do I let it go?

During this time, you may also use tools such as breathing, meditation, or talking to a trusted mentor or friend to help vet out the situation and gain further insight.

Creating space with time, as mentioned above, lessons the emotions from the trigger. You can find ways and use tools to change your mindset and focus on more positive thoughts, occasionally reflecting on the situation but often with less emotion.

The saying “time heals all wounds” is relatable in these challenges as well. But using the time wisely to think, evaluate, and assess to make the best choice will alleviate the harmful, negative thought dwelling.

Respond or Not Respond

When you decide to circle back and respond, you have calmed down, given it some thought, and you have clarity on how to respond if at all. If you can feel confident in how you responded than you have done your best and can move forward from the situation.

Do I always get it perfect? I doubt it. There always two sides to a story, and they may be going through it as well. But, with each encounter, I use the above tools, do my best, and learn for next time.

Photo via Pexels- Yan