You can't get an embarrassing moment or a cute barista off of your mind. These kinds of thoughts are common, but if they're proving to be too distracting, there are steps you can take to rid yourself of unwanted thoughts. Start by putting your full attention on this article.
1. Write your thought(s) down.
Your thoughts are distracting you from your daily activities and causing you unhappiness, anxiety or worry, so the first thing you must do is put them on paper. Write down all your upsetting thoughts in order of the most stressful to the least stressful.
For example, if you keep thinking you might lose your job, your list could look something like this: 1. How will I be able to pay my bills and take care of my child? 2. What if I can't find a new job? 3. I'll be so embarrassed if I'm escorted by security out of the office with my belongings in a box.
You're going to begin your practice with the least-stressful thought.
2. Imagine the thought.
Sit or lie down in a private place. Close your eyes. Imagine a situation in which you might have this stressful thought.
3. Stop the thought.
Set a timer, watch or other alarm for three minutes. Then focus on your unwanted thought. When the timer or alarm goes off, shout "Stop!" That's your cue to empty your mind of that thought. Think of one intentional thought (the beach, etc.) and keep your mind fixed on that image or thought for 30 seconds. If the upsetting thought comes back during that time, shout "Stop!" again. Practicing meditation or yoga may help calm and clear your mind.
You can stand up when you say "Stop" if you'd like or snap your fingers or clap your hands. These actions reinforce the "Stop" command and further interrupt your thought.
Instead of using a timer, you can tape-record yourself shouting "Stop!" at one-, two- and three-minute intervals and use the recording to do the thought-stopping exercise. When you hear your recorded voice say "Stop," empty your mind for 30 seconds.
Repeat this exercise until the thought goes away on command. Then try the exercise again and interrupt the thought by saying "Stop" in a normal voice rather than a shout. Once your normal voice is able to stop the thought, try whispering "Stop." Over time, you can just imagine hearing "Stop" inside your mind. At this point, you should be able to stop the thought whenever and wherever it occurs. Once you've achieved that level of control, choose the next thought on your list and continue thought-stopping.
1. Get active.
Engaging in a sport that requires you to focus on your body and/or eye-hand coordination is a good way to clear your head. Plus, exercise brings the added benefit of producing the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, which will improve your mood.
2. Do something mentally strenuous.
Challenge yourself mentally by completing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, solving complicated math problems or following a complex set of instructions to complete a project. The mental focus it will take to do these kinds of activities will leave you with no time or mental energy to think your unwanted thoughts.
Laughter can take your mind off worries. When we laugh, our brain is engaged--it's instructing our body to make a series of gestures and sound. Laughing helps reduce stress, so if your recurring thoughts are causing you anxiety, laughter really is good medicine. Hang out with friends who simply crack you up, rent a funny movie or try a laughter yoga class. You can even find therapists who specialize in "laughter therapy," which teaches people how to openly laugh at things that aren't usually funny and to use humor to cope with difficult situations.
4. Talk it out.
Often the best way to get a thought out of your head is to share it with someone else. Turn to a friend or family member who's a good listener and tell them what's on your mind. If you feel as though your difficulty in dealing with your unwanted thoughts is more than a friend can help with, turn to a professional therapist or counselor who can work with you.
1. Practice acceptance.
If you've tried just not thinking about someone or something, you know it's not really possible--if it were that easy, you wouldn't be reading this article. In fact, research has found that it is better to accept your unwanted thoughts rather than to push them away. In one study, participants who practiced acceptance were less obsessive, had lower levels of depression and were less anxious than those who tried thought suppression. 
Accepting your thoughts, also known as being mindful, doesn't mean you have to like them or even agree with your thoughts. You simply have to accept them as part of your current reality. Allow them to exist and make no effort to try to control or change them. By doing so, you take away their power, and they begin to occur less frequently.
2. Use focused distraction.
You may have already tried distracting yourself to get the thoughts you want to avoid out of your head, but have you tried focused distraction? Studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with just one thing rather than jumping from one thing to another trying to divert your attention from unwanted thoughts. Aimless mind-wandering is associated with unhappiness, so choose a specific task, book or piece of music to concentrate on and give it your full attention.
3. Throw them out.
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that when people wrote down their thoughts on a piece of paper and then threw the paper away, they mentally discarded the thoughts as well. Some counselors might instead recommend a worry jar where you can place these thoughts.
4. Check for a lesson.
If you're having obsessive thoughts because of a mistake you've made and you keep mentally re-living the error, try treating the situation as a lesson. Ask yourself what the lesson is and what you can learn from your mistake. Try summing it up in just one sentence or less and write it down.