I used to think that overthinking was a matter of discipline.
If I could just exert enough willpower, then I could silence my mind FOREVER 🎉
Or maybe if I journaled enough and analysed my thoughts enough (is this true? No really, IS IT TRUE?!???) and maybe talked to a therapist about them, I’d finally figure them out and then they’d stop bothering me.
Or ACTUALLY, maybe the trick was I had to become enlightened 🧘♂️
If I meditated for 4 hours a day each morning then YES! The mind would be finished. Over. DONEZOES.
And if that failed, I could always quit life and move to a cave in India.
I don’t know why but I never stopped to ask the most important question…
Why did I think so much?
Why did uninvited negative thoughts rain down on me all day long?
These days, I know that the answer is nervous system dysregulation.
That means the nervous system is all outta whack and stuck in varying amounts of fight, flight and freeze.
While that might not sound like a big deal, it means that there’s more adrenaline in the body, more tension in the muscles and a higher heart rate as the system prepares to either run away or fight.
If it’s time-limited as intended, it’s great.
But if fight/flight/freeze is always on, that’s when you get problems like overthinking:
What if it doesn’t work? What if I run out of money? Sarah at HR doesn’t like me. I’m sure of it. They said that thing the other day and looked at me weird. Shit. Shit shit shit. Why did I have to say that back to them? Ugh. I’m so stupid. I’ll always be like this. I’m probably going to lose my job. I’ll never figure this out. I guess I’m just destined to be like this. I can’t start that business / talk to that person / do that thing. I might fail. I can’t fail. Let’s just do this safe thing over here. Let’s collect that regular pay check and forget about the scary thing. Blah blah blah blah blah.
In other words…
Overthinking is a symptom of being stuck in varying amounts of fight, flight or freeze.
This is GREAT news because it means you can do something about it 😍
It’s not about willpower or forcing yourself not to think.
It’s about bringing yourself gently out of fight, flight and freeze so that your nervous system finally feels safe. Once you’ve got safety onboard at a deep level (especially in the gut and fascia), overthinking dissolves on its own.
Think about that for a second 😏
You can stop overthinking without focusing on your thoughts 🤯
Instead… just get some solid techniques for getting yourself out of fight, flight or freeze.
Techniques like these:
P.S. I know it’s a longgggggg-shot but do you by any chance know anyone who overthinks?
Refer them to The Daily Beast (this email newsletter) and help them to stop overthinking and start living.