Are you currently being held hostage by your own mind? Are you in a state of perpetual fight or flight from the incessant barrage of negative thoughts?? Constantly embattled by the horrific torture inflicted on you by your own brain??? Then all you need to do is stop thinking, silly! Although you may think that confronting and processing your bad thoughts is the right thing to do, a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge has found that suppressing them may actually prove beneficial.
In a study shared with the New Scientist, Cambridge’s Professor Michael Anderson and Zulkaya Mamat take the age-old mantra ‘no thoughts, just vibes’ and give it some academic heft, stating that “suppressing thoughts by making sure your mind is without any thought – for example by imagining a blank space or imagining pushing that thought out of your mind – can be beneficial.”
For the study of 120 people, Anderson and Mamat asked the participants to come up with negative future scenarios they might worry about, and also neutral future scenarios like hanging out their laundry. 61 participants were then asked to suppress the negative thoughts and 59 asked to suppress the neutral thoughts, 20 minutes a day for three days. Of the people suppressing negative thoughts, 90 per cent of the participants reported that suppression made the thoughts less vivid, and 75 per cent of the people who were suppressing neutral thoughts said the same.
The study also revealed that the participants who were suppressing negative thoughts and also reported struggles with depression or PTSD before the study found that they had a 16 per cent drop in the severity of their PTSD afterwards.
Mamat then went on to say that “there are some thoughts that you should try to think about and process and deal with, but there are other thoughts about the future that you can’t do anything about and suppressing them could help”. So, in conclusion, suppress some bad thoughts but remember not to suppress them all. V helpful!
For more information on the pros and cons of thought suppression, read the whole report here.