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Hypnotherapy for Anxious, Repetitive Thoughts


Have you ever suffered from repetitive, negative thoughts? This kind of behavior – known as rumination – is a form of anxiety and actually doesn't do anything to analyze, alter, or improve the topic of the rumination. Instead, it feels obsessive and somewhat destructive, almost like rubbing salt into a wound.

Ruminating is also common in people who possess certain personality characteristics, which include perfectionism, neuroticism, and an excessive focus on one’s relationships with others.


People ruminate for a variety of reasons. According to the American Psychological Association, some common reasons for rumination include:

  • belief that by ruminating, you’ll gain insight into your life or a problem

  • having a history of emotional or physical trauma

  • facing ongoing stressors that can’t be controlled

However, because rumination feels compulsive and does nothing to move the sufferer forward, this habit can undermine mental health. It can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair the ability to think and process emotions. What's more, rumination can impair thinking and problem-solving. It may also cause sufferers to feel isolated and can, in reality, push people away for the simple reason that otherwise supportive individuals get frustrated with the repetition and lack of action.

A community survey Nolen-Hoeksema conducted on 1,300 adults, ages 25 to 75, backed those results. It found that ruminators develop major depression four times as often as non-ruminators: 20 percent versus 5 percent. The study also showed that men ruminate as a reaction to anger, while women do it as a response to sadness.


Traditional therapy recommends various tips for breaking the spiral:

  1. distract yourself by doing chores, taking a walk or calling a family member

  2. plan an action that addresses the topic of the rumination - for example, writing notes or a list.

  3. take action - for example, talking to the person who is the source of the problem

  4. question your thoughts by putting them into perspective

  5. understand your triggers

However, none of these address the onslaught or immobilizing nature of compulsiveness. The tips assume you can stop being compulsive long enough to rationally engage in another activity.

This is where hypnosis comes in.


A hypnotherapist can create a unique course of treatment that systematically addresses every aspect of the ruminating behavior:

  1. The client can be given suggestions that slow the mind. In fact, simply by practicing self-hypnosis, the client begins to establish new ways for the mind to function and develops tools for controlling the mind even under stress.

  2. The client can address the underlying trauma and discover positive emotional resources which reframe the client’s perception of reality. No longer projecting past traumas on current situations, the client gains perspective and is attracted to healthier environments.

  3. Hypnosis can relax, if not reverse, personality traits, such as perfectionism, that exacerbate rumination.

  4. In trance, clients can receive suggestions that help them prioritize activities and follow through on a plan of action.

  5. Clients may discover the source of their anxiety/depression and thereby takes steps to improve.

Clients who ruminate are often afraid to stop because they distrust having a positive mindset. They feel it might be unrealistic. But through hypnotherapy, a client can learn to be positive and solve problems at the same time. It’s not about being blindly optimistic regardless of one’s circumstances, but more about noticing what is already going right in your everyday life and enjoying that, while still maintaining a realistic understanding of the challenges you might face.

Basically, rumination is a habit, and like any negative habit, it can be unlearned. Doing so takes practice and patience. Positive change is more likely to be a process than an instant miracle- though miracles can indeed happen.

UK Hypnotherapist James Brannan says “Sometimes the brain makes snapshot decisions about what something means, and how to respond to such things in the future. Your brain automates certain responses in order to free you up to engage with new things effectively. This is great in one way, because it means we can keep moving between focuses and attend to many things in life. However, the downside is that we sometimes end up with responses that we don’t like doing and feeling, and yet they run unconsciously.”

Brannan says, “Using hypnotherapy, it’s like we can join a person in the maze they are stuck in, grab them by the hand, lead them out and introduce them to new areas. We do this by activating the original problem and feeding in new thoughts, images, ideas and feelings.”


In maintaining a positive mindset, regular practice of self-hypnosis is key self-hypnosis helps you establish your new habits – in this case, reinforcing the positive mindset as the new normal. Self-hypnosis allows you to enter into a deep relaxation, and uses statements spoken in your mind, to reinforce the change you want to make.

It takes at least 40 days to break a habit. And, since repetition is one way subconscious programming occurs, practicing self-hypnosis 2 or more times per day over that forty day period, lifts the client easily and effectively out of the unwanted behavior.

Not only does the rumination slow or even vanish, the client easily and naturally engages in new ways of functioning. For example, an hour once spent on negative rumination is now spend walking in nature or exercising. Once afraid to handle problems directly, a client becomes efficient at work and good at handling relationships with co-workers. A client who once perceived himself as a victim handles adversity with natural courage. A client too traumatized to move forward in life, neutralizes her relationship to the past and walk boldly into a newly imagined future.

Rumination is just one of the forms depression and anxiety take, but no matter the form, hypnosis can help make positive changes to brain function.

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