How to Unhook Yourself from Your Thoughts and Feelings: Strategies for Emotional Awareness and Well-being

Benjamin Bonetti Therapy Online Coaching

Being hooked by our thoughts and feelings is a common experience that can lead to emotional distress and affect our decision-making process.

It is important to develop strategies for unhooking ourselves from these emotions, allowing us to cultivate emotional awareness and improve overall well-being.

This article explores techniques for recognising and managing these challenging moments, helping you navigate life's transitions with greater ease and resilience.

Recognising When You Are Hooked

The first step in unhooking from our thoughts and feelings is to recognise when we are caught in their grip. Some signs that you may be hooked include:

  • Rumination: Dwelling on past events or obsessing over potential future outcomes, which can lead to increased anxiety and stress. 
  • Emotional Reactivity: Feeling overwhelmed by emotions, leading to impulsive actions or decision-making without fully considering the consequences.
  • Cognitive Distortions: Misinterpreting situations or jumping to conclusions based on our emotions, rather than objective facts.
  • Physical Symptoms: Experiencing physical manifestations of stress, such as tension headaches, muscle tightness, or digestive issues. 

Techniques for Unhooking

Once we are aware that we are hooked by our thoughts and feelings, we can employ various strategies to unhook ourselves and regain emotional balance:

  • Mindful Observation: Practice observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. Acknowledge their presence and let them pass, like clouds in the sky, without getting caught up in them.
  • Cognitive Reframing: Challenge and reframe unhelpful thoughts or beliefs. Consider alternative perspectives and question the validity of the thoughts that are causing distress. 
  • Grounding Techniques: Use grounding exercises, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or sensory awareness, to bring your focus back to the present moment and reduce the intensity of your emotions.
  • Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, acknowledging that it is normal to experience difficult emotions. Offer yourself the same support and care that you would offer a loved one.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or mental health professionals for guidance and support in navigating your emotions.

The Role of Emotional Awareness in Unhooking

Developing emotional awareness can significantly aid in the process of unhooking from our thoughts and feelings.

By cultivating a deeper understanding of our emotions, we can more effectively recognise when we are hooked and employ the appropriate strategies to manage our emotional state.

Emotional awareness also helps us to better understand our values and priorities, allowing us to make more informed decisions and improve our overall well-being.


Unhooking from our thoughts and feelings is a crucial skill for maintaining emotional balance and navigating life's challenges. By recognising when we are hooked and implementing strategies to unhook ourselves, we can foster emotional awareness and enhance our resilience in the face of adversity.


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Professional References:

Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. G. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. Guilford Press. 

Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualisation of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85-101. 

Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 271-299.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156.