Hey everyone, how was your September? I hope it was one filled with new experiences, new energy & happiness but if not, that’s okay too; hang in there, because there are brighter days to come – I’m sure of it.
In this month’s column, I want to speak to you about something I faced throughout September as I know for certain it’s something many others deal with too and often on a much more extreme level.
Overthinking is by definition totally pointless, however many of us still do it. But why, oh why, do we do it? I’m sure many of you would love an answer for that one but as I always remind myself, I’m just a human being having a human experience, and that’s totally okay.
Generally, I’m not really someone who thinks into things too much but when it comes to my relationships with others, all usual rules go right out of the window. This month, I had a situation arise that I wasn’t expecting and although I’ve practiced mindfulness and have a pretty good grasp on my mental health, this month my mind decided to play a few tricks on me. So, on several occasions that were all within two weeks of each other, I was at the point of overthinking to such a degree that it was making me question things – a lot.
I thought one of my friends had fallen out with me and was totally convinced it was all because of me and that I must have done something wrong to them. I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head and the more I thought about it, the worse it got; it’s such a vicious circle. Again, I’m not going to sit here acting like I know how truly crippling and debilitating overthinking can be because thankfully I haven’t suffered to a high level, but this experience did bring with it anxiety, worry and a lot of unanswered questions.
The second occasion was due to a lack of communication with someone I was going to be working with and again, I felt that this was due to me doing something wrong. Little did I realise until after that this person was just busy working and so didn’t have the time to reach out. I had just immediately assumed I had done something wrong so clearly, I wasn’t thinking logically – I see that now on reflection. It’s funny, when I asked the person if I had done something wrong, guess what they asked me?
‘Jack, are you overthinking?’
Yes, of course I was.
Overthinking really can ruin situations if you aren’t careful. I had a very clear and loud wake-up call during September about the dangers of overthinking. Sometimes for me it’s fine; we all do it to some extent throughout different periods of our life, but this time the level of overthinking was one where it wasn’t okay. It really wasn’t healthy and I was literally spending hours thinking about imaginary situations and events that hadn’t even happened, but I suppose in my mind I believed that they had.
I’ve now learnt how important it is to trust my instincts. I wish I had seen it then but I suppose I needed this lesson to teach me how strong my intuition is, and that when your gut says you haven’t done anything wrong, you usually haven’t – so trust it. I was convinced I must have done something to upset my friend so I asked my gut and I kept coming back to no, of course I hadn’t; I was practically certain of it! And still, the overthinking continued and took over completely.
Many of you would have dealt with different versions of overthinking and as I said, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, it’s usually related to people and my relationships with them. It’s something I continuously work on and since September I’ve realised a lot and now understand and have a better understanding of what is real and what is fake. The number one thing I should have done instantly was to speak to my friend and ask them personally but instead, I kept it all to myself and created a whole heap of internal mess that didn’t need to be there. Not long after that I did speak to my friend, and as aforementioned I hadn’t actually done anything wrong at all; talk about the biggest of weights off of my shoulders. It was so damn liberating but also annoying and I felt so silly as to me this had seemed so real. Although I had been almost certain that I was an innocent party in the situation, still I allowed paranoia to encompass my mind. That’s overthinking for you.
So, my advice is this; if your overthinking involves someone close to you, just do the thing I should have done in the first instance; go and speak to them to get the reassurance you need – you deserve and can have that, and so much more. Of course, I understand that this advice won’t take the overthinking away, but with time you’ll realise that our lovely little minds can sometimes be cheeky monkeys too. They like to play tricks on us, and sadly sometimes this can drive us to the brink of insanity, when it’s of course no longer a laughing matter.
I wanted to offer up some of my most tried and tested ways to deal with this problem. For me personally when I’m overthinking anything, no matter what it may be, I have to practise living in the moment. Mindfulness is an instant killer for overthinking and the constant invasive thoughts because living in the moment you are in right now requires you to put 100% attention and focus into whatever you’re doing.There simply just isn’t time to think about anything else! Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done, but my golly when it works, it absolutely works.
My number one favourite mindfulness exercise right now to practise is yoga. The best bit is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home like I do. Yoga has totally changed my life. I’m like a spiritual cliché these days to be honest; meditation, yoga, manifestations, green tea… you name it, I probably do it. Yoga pushes you to the limits – you will sweat, you will shake, but it requires you again to live totally in the moment and to focus on your breathing; another great help and benefit when it comes to overthinking.
Yoga with Adrienne is the main video I use. I don’t have to get dressed and go to a gym class; I can do it at home which is absolutely perfect for me and what I prefer when it comes to exercise. You can find a whole heap of practices from her here, from 10 minute long sessions to an hour and everything in between – https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
Next up is motivational videos. I love all of these different practices within my “mental toolbox,” because most of them are totally FREE – you can’t get better than that!
I was introduced not long ago to Ralph Smart, aka Infinite Waters. He’s like the king of helping to reduce all kinds of overthinking and when he speaks he makes so much damn sense! For example, from watching just one of his videos about learning to trust the universe and eliminate overthinking I realised just how much time I was wasting on the latter. It truly is pointless when you actually see it for what it really is, which granted is very hard to do in the moment but it can be realised after, upon reflection. You can watch his videos here – https://www.youtube.com/user/Kemetprince1/featured
I could speak for years about the multiple resources and tools there are for dealing with this and other mental health issues in general, but for now I’ll leave it here. I’m sending you all the love, light & happiness for the month to come and I’m so damn proud of you. You wake up everyday and you’re here, you’re alive and you CAN do this!
Until next month,