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Ep. 75 How To Stop Overthinking

by Claudine Sweeney
May 5th 2021

Overthinking can keep us stuck in practically every situation. It can leave us feeling frustrated, anxious, depressed, confused, unhappy. You name it. In today's episode we discuss key actions you ... More

This is episode 75 How to stop overthinking you're listening to the rise up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids, we have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So, tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the rise up and shine podcast. Yeah, yeah. Hi everyone, we are back for another episode today, Live in person with Claudine again, I'm so thrilled. Aren't you thrilled to see me? I am thrilled to episodes in a row. I know it's so exciting. So today we want to focus on a topic um that we all do.

I'm going to dare to say we all do this, we overthink. Do you overthink listeners out there, do you? Well we do and we think most people do, we do definitely. I know I'm an over thinker, I'm a recovering over thinker because I actually saw someone wearing a sweatshirt that said, hold on a minute while I overthink this, I'm like, oh, that's so funny, that's a good one. Well, you know, overthinking is when we think about something too long or too much and I know you and I use the word ruminating, so, and it's not just thinking about something like I've been thinking about our new house a lot, but it's got a purpose, I'm like trying to decorate every room in my head so that when we actually move in, it'll be done in a week. But this is over thinking that's typically more negative, that causes worry or depression or stress. So that's what we're talking about today. The over thinking that is not healthy. And as you and I both known as we teach our thoughts are powerful and they create our reality. So if we overthink on some negative things, we're going to get some unhealthy thought patterns and that's why we're talking about over thinking.

Yeah, because basically overthinking rumination is just a habit. That's all it is. It's something like you said, we've done it over and over repetitive lee and it has become a habit in our life. And so what do we need to do with a habit? You know, to stop a bad habit, We can replace it with a new habit, create a new one and we'll get into that more a little bit later in the episode. But there's a lot of reasons why we do it for one. It's rooted in fear, right? It can be rooted in fear. A lot of future worries. Well, what or the should um I know I do that all the time. Well, I should, I should have could have I know that if I could have, you know, why didn't I and were so hard on ourselves and also past experiences can impact how much we overthink, you know, there's thinking about something and there's over thinking about something becomes obsessive to appoint. You know and you ruminate and rumination.

Again it's just you're constantly that's all you're focusing on. You can't think about anything else. Um But one thing to keep in mind is that we when we identify as our thoughts then that's where we really get stuck because we think well we are our thoughts, right? What we're thinking must be true. So then we label ourselves, we identify as those those thoughts that we're ruminating about which causes are life, circumstances, our situation, our our state of being right. And so it's really important to identify. I am not my thoughts are thoughts are just meaning to what we are giving to a situation now. Another reason why we overthink and I I would have so much experience in this is past traumas so much of our life and how we act our behaviors, our emotions, Our tie to things that have happened in the past. And we could be stuck in our past even subconsciously right?

Right 95% of our brain is subconscious. So we can really be stuck in the past. That could be causing a lot of overthinking and again for myself where this was very prevalent in my life um was I had trauma in my early childhood and I knew this just you know going through Kaiser and doing a trauma class and seeing a therapist and my therapist even said well I think you have a D. D. I'm like oh what it just like was a light bulb that turned out really? And she also said O. C. D. And I thought no I'm I'm not O. C. D. She's like well O. C. D. Can also be obsessive thoughts and oh my gosh again light bulb like a million light bulbs went on for that one because I'm like yes I do that. I cannot be alone like in silence because my mind does not shut off right granted. We're constantly thinking that we have what about 70,000 thoughts a day. So our mind is constantly going but I can hyper focus on something.

And obsessed. Like obsessively. I've done this so many times where I've gotten panic attacks. I've almost was going paranoid in certain situations with certain people in my life that I mean to such an extreme where I had to in order to quiet down those thoughts in my head I would have to have the tv on our music so to silence that because you know when you're stuck in that you can drive yourself crazy. Right? Did I get myself insane? Yes. Well I have no trauma that I have any conscious memory of in my childhood and yes yet this was still a problem for me as well in psychology today says that any form of negative rumination or negative overthinking will stimulate a release of destructive neuro transmitters. So it's kind of this vicious cycle that we you and I talk about regularly. But our thoughts generate our emotions which um you know, activate our behavior. So if we don't get uh if we don't get control of our thoughts, we're in big trouble, right? And it's like you said, we worry so much about the future or we go over situations in our past and we think of the could have would have should haves right?

And then we get stuck. So it's not so much thinking about a situation, but it's getting stuck in that situation. And then that can lead to sleeplessness. It can increase depression and increase our stress level. So that's why we want to get a handle on overthinking. And I have a really silly example of over thinking that you and I were talking about Earlier, so many, many years ago, about two decades ago, 20 years ago, my husband and I was trying to worship in a new church, a sister church in a different city. And I remember that we had gotten there early and I went to the restroom and had inadvertently tucked my rather short dress not too short, but short. you know, for I certainly wouldn't be wearing it now in my fifties, but I had tucked it in up behind me. So here I was coming down the stairs to get to my seat and my dress was tucked all the way up in, you know, my panties. So not a good look and certainly not the impression you want to give when you're attending a news service. So needless, needless to say I was overthinking this for weeks and weeks to come.

Now luckily that a woman, an older woman came running up to me and caught me before I went too far down the stairs and help me straighten myself up before I made a complete fool myself. But I'll tell you because of my insecurity and because at that time I cared so much about what people thought. I ruminated over this. I mean it was so negative. It created so much fear and anxiety like how can I ever go back there again and how many men saw me in this way, which of course, Now looking back, I was in my 30s, I had a really cute slender figures, so who cares but trying to be the modest, christian woman, I did want to be covered up, but it was something that I ruminated over and really allowed it to create a lot of stress and discomfort. And I got very insecure about what people would think about me. And so what I ended up having to do overtime because it was really, you know, these overthinking thoughts can really destroy your peace and your happiness right? Because you're fixated on the negative. And so luckily I was able to just change my focus and just started focusing on the gratitude I had for this woman that came and rescued me from, you know, completely making a fool myself had I made it all the way down the stairs because I was the very tippy top.

This was a weird setting where the front was at the bottom of the stairs. So I had to go downstairs to get to your seats, which you know, Not a great view from behind. So um I just focused on that and to this day, 20 years later, she and I are still really good friends, but I felt very protected by her and felt like she had my back, literally. She had my back side literally. And so when I started focusing on that and then of course I wasn't going to never go to church again because of that or change churches? Hey honey, we can't go back because you know how many of us do that, Right? Yeah. My husband's not like that. He's like, I know you're going to get over it quickly, so, but you know, it is our thoughts can really create havoc and that is why we're talking about this today and we don't want any of us to get stuck in those negative habits and those negative emotions, right? Right. And we can even do overthinking in our relationships. I was talking to someone the other day, you know, someone says something and you're like, why did they say that word?

What's the meaning of that word? And you think about it over and over and over. Well, did they mean this? Did they mean that like you overthink it and you're attributing meaning to something that probably has no meaning whatsoever. The person is like I just said, you know, dog, I don't know, I mean cat, I said dog, I don't know what to tell you. So anyway, Yeah, so I was thinking as you're talking my husband and I we've had these conversations like there's things that he can really focus on and overthink and I don't write, I'm just like why even waste my time on that. But then there's also things that I do, you know that I constantly think about, he's like just don't let it bother you. Very personal to each of us. So we're driving down the road, my husband sees a bunch of trash on the ground, you know, on the side of the regular couch, Let's say he'll thank gosh, it's so horrible that people just dump their trash. And I'll say, well how do you know, they dumped it on purpose, what if it was fell out? You never know, give him the benefit of the doubt. And you know, he'll kind of think about that and and I'll just like I I just don't want to waste my time about it, but usually it's like with people for the most part if it has to do with people, I tend to kind of let it go because I try to give him the benefit of the doubt unless it's like something really in my face which has happened in the past, but for me it's a lot of situations, you know, it can be situational where I just focus on a lot, you know, and that, as you said, destroyed my joy and my peace and you know, any positive vibe going on because I like to live in positive vibes.

Yes, I even got my kids saying that now, but I was also thinking that how many times do we just have this misconception that we can't control our thoughts? We can't control. I mean, really you think about, we have so many thousands and thousands of thought today, how can we possibly control them? Well, obviously can we control all of them? No, unfortunately we cannot, but we can be more intentional and become aware of our thinking patterns and I think that is a great place to start is the thinking patterns because a lot of the thoughts that cause us grief in our life are a pattern. We do it often, we do it for a long time. We focus on it and it causes us to feel these emotions. We don't feel good. We feel frustrated where we feel discouraged where we can feel anxiety and depression and as we mentioned, anxiety comes from fear and worrying about the what ifs future, you know, and really cause ourselves so much anxiety that we can get panic attacks and which I have had those.

I mean, we could end up in the hospital from panic attacks. Um, it's not fun. It's very uncomfortable. It's not goodbye. No, it's not good lives. That's right. And also depression. Another one I have experience on multiple occasions, focussing and obsessing about the negative self shaming, you know, that negative voice in our head being so cruel to ourselves. You know, I'm just saying horrible things, playing the victim, you know, I say, I mean, we can easily victimize ourselves, you know, based on somebody else's behavior or a situation and think, well, they're doing it to me on purpose or you know, really wishing things were different. I know for a long time I spent I wish my marriage look different. Marriage didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. But a lot of it I was creating those emotional feelings because I was so focused and over thinking, you know, something my husband said or didn't say something he did or didn't do really. We just sit and focus on it.

And I again, with my past trauma and experiences it became so obsessive that I got myself into counseling at a point because I'm like, this is I don't know what's going on here. Something needs to give like somebody to change here. I knew there was something within me that I needed to bring to the conscious level, to work through to better, You know, my life situations and myself to the power of our thoughts, we can't say it over and over and over again enough, the power of our thoughts. So Ashley, let's talk about some practical because I know we both have some things that have helped us overcome over thinking we are overthinking overcome ours. So for me, one of the first ones is to live in the present. Because like you were sharing when we over think about the future that can lead to worry and anxiety and panic attacks and when we over think about past the past events or past things in our lives, it can lead to depression. It's the could have that should have that leads to shame to guilt into depression.

So neither of those are healthy. So what's healthy is to live in the present. And I love that, Jesus said in Luke 17, don't go back remember lot's wife and we remember what happened to lots wife, she looked back and then she was frozen forever as a pillar of salt. She was the epitome of being stuck, she could move no more right, but live in the present. Just keep our eyes in the present. And that is so much easier said than done. But even for me like and I do think about each day is a new day, right? And this is the day the Lord has made be glad and rejoice in it. And if I keep looking backwards at all my mistakes are all my failures or how I wish things were different. I'm stuck and it's depressing and if I look forward, like even for me for the next couple months, we really don't have anywhere to live. We're just kind of couch surfing or as I have chosen to share, I'm just traveling. We're just travelers on this road called life. It just mentally helps me, but we're just living in the present is that we don't know like we don't know when our house is going to be ready.

Exactly. And if I live too much in the future, I'm going to get anxious. It could create a lot of anxiety. So I'm not overthinking, I'm just living in the present today. I'm here with you doing my laundry which reminds me I need to go change my load when we're done with this on my laundry. You're being present there recording a podcast. That's right. So President can be very challenging. It is something that sounds so simple, but it's just not easy, but it's so powerful to just really train your mind to be right here right now. This is only just really just today. Exactly has enough trouble for its own. Tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. So just fill it up with today's troubles. That's right. We don't need any more on her. That's right. Another one that's really helped me is just even acknowledging your emotions and you talked about this a little bit but um just acknowledging how do I feel when I overthink these thoughts when I start ruminating what am I feeling and acknowledge it Like for me and I share this all the time.

I it's taken me a long time to get in touch with my emotions or even be able to name them now. I'm getting much better at it. I can say I'm billing like yesterday I was actually feeling very anxious which is not a typical struggle for me and I couldn't even figure out what it was. I think I had all these bills to pay and we're obviously living out of a suitcase, I don't have a desk, I'm just kind of just challenging and I started getting anxious but as soon as I got back to a notebook with pen and paper it just helps so much. But I had to acknowledge I am feeling anxious right now and it is OK, it is ok do I have any thoughts that are making it so No, but then I said do I want to continue feeling this way? No, I don't. So what do I need to do? So for me it was just getting out pen and paper but I had to acknowledge that I was even feeling it. Another one which I've kind of brought up is rewrite your story like my you know dress story, I had to rewrite that it wasn't the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me? I mean it was, But I could rewrite the story and say this was an opportunity for a woman to show her care and concern for me and we ended up developing a great relationships and I look back and then I said, thank God, I know that she cared enough to say something, she didn't know me.

I mean, it literally was one of our first times there, but she cared enough and I just focused on that. So I rewrote the story about how great friendship evolved and we could look back and laugh at it instead of it was the most humiliating thing that ever happened. And how could I ever show my face again? I Just rewrote the story with my trauma. That's where the obsession would come 20 years, 25 years down the road. I would still feel anxious going to church every time, like it's going to happen and obsess check my clothes every time I'm not going to go the bathroom while I'm in public. Right? That's where we can take it to the extreme. Right, Right. Well, you can be sure that I was far more cautious from that day forward. Every time I left the ladies room, that is for sure. I did learn to go, Let me take a quick look around make sure, but rewrite the story instead of looking at the negative in the past or worrying about the future? What if um what if it's great, what if it's better than you ever imagined, I've had to really retrain my brain because my go to is the negative.

I'm a half glass empty kind of gal. A lot of us do that. Yes, so I've had to read rate, retrain my brain like what if it's better than I ever imagined, What if things turn out even better than I could've hoped for and that's not my natural default system. But in retraining my brain, it's becoming more natural, it's becoming more habitual to think the positive than the negative, but it's taken time and it takes work well and our brain wants to keep us safe, right to make sure that never happens to you again, right? So it's going to do everything in its power to no, no, no, we're not going to do that. No, no, don't wear dresses, don't go to church. Exactly, and that's where I would have gone, I would have been like, okay, I'm not going to do this, I'm not going to do that. Um But it's true, I mean, our brain is wired to protect us survival is for comfort, keeping us safe comfortable, it doesn't want us to experience those things again, like that's dangerous, right? Very dangerous. So as you said, just trying to reframe it and focus on what is something good that came out of it rather than the negative because regardless of what you think about, you reinforce those emotions on, you know, just staying fixated on whatever you're thinking about?

So if you're going to think about negative situations or the negative or the quote unquote bad experience, then you're going to constantly relive that in your body. Your body is constantly going to be um you know, flooded with those hormones or you know, those emotions are going to rush through your body as if you're reliving the experience because your brain doesn't know the difference, doesn't know the past future to present. It doesn't know that. And so but as long as you fixate you're going to reinforce so why not try to think the best, right? Thinking the best and we've heard that and we've even had it told us well what's the worst that can happen. But for me I didn't like that. I know I've shared this previously, I didn't like being asked, well what's the worst that can happen? Right? Good intention, right? And at times we talk ourselves through that that could trigger more overthinking it now because even something like, and I share this before, like with my past and my co dependency, people pleasing nature that someone even just telling me no is very triggering.

Yeah, I mean the rejection I feel is just so harsh on my body and my emotional wellbeing, but I've had to learn, okay, the idea of it, what's the worst that can happen, okay, how can I take that and reframe it? I'll say, well what is the best that could happen? That's right. And so just rephrasing that that sentence really helps because it did not trigger my body from my past projection issues and it helps me to think basically to the same goal of what I wanted to write or experience. And I just, I just had to flip it a little bit and sometimes that's all it takes. You know, it could be a word, it could be something that can trigger you and let's just switch that, right? That's great. Yeah, and I think it's so true what you said, I mean we have to focus on the positive, we really do and there is good that can come out of any situation, even if if we've been mistreated in our past or abused, if anything, we've learned how not to treat people and that's what I say when things I look back at my past and things have been very hurtful.

I think well at least I had that experience to teach me how not to treat people because clearly that person didn't and so I've tried to look really hard for the good and boundaries and boundaries, right? Yes, it's taught me boundaries. So there is good that can come out of every situation, but we really do have to train our brains to look for it and then to keep repeating it. Like if we keep focusing on the positive, like you said, we keep repeating that then um that's how our bodies are going to feel, We're going to feel better emotionally and then our neural pathways are going to strengthen and develop their and it'll just become easier and easier and that's creating a new habit. Yeah, absolutely, placing that overthinking habit to maybe even over think about the positive, right? And that's going to reward great benefits, right? You're going to feel much better, you know, you're not going to feel perfect obviously or you know, that's not usually through ups and downs, usually not the problem, overthinking the positive, right? We don't struggle with that, let's do an episode on overthinking the positive.

It's like we'll just stop thinking that stop, you know, I was told that many times and when I have the upset doesn't work. I know my brain is not going to be like, okay, you stop thinking, it doesn't work, You can't stop thinking. And what happened was my coping was music or tv on because I can listen to something else, but all it was doing was ignoring the problem, I wasn't processing anything, I wasn't working through anything, I wasn't allowing myself to feel, I was numbing out, right and that's not healthy that kept me stuck in that situation. So creating a new habit, let's replace it with things that are going to serve you thoughts that are going to help you, help better your life, help you to feel better, help the situation, What is the best that can happen or give people the benefit of the doubt or boundary zone, okay, I mean, you name it, the list goes on and on. Um and I want to add one thing also to that list is xing out perfection. That is one thing that can cause us to over think is that we feel like we have to do it perfectly perfect and just accepting that nobody is perfect and even if something fails or it doesn't go the way that I want that we can always try something different just part of life and that's okay, you know?

But having to strive for perfection is something that can keep us stuck in this negative. Overthinking pattern and we will stay stuck in our life because we're not going to want to, you know, challenge ourselves or step out to do um something new or that can quote unquote, feel scary, right? Our brain doesn't want to do those things, but perfection is not, you know, let's just take that out of the equation. Yes, So many good things. So that is overthinking. So don't overthink this podcast too much, right? Don't overthink it. Listen to it, acknowledge it, process it and then move on, but and subscribe and share with friends. Yes. Great, Great. Yeah. Please subscribe. Please leave a review that would be helpful for us and we'll leave you with proverbs 23 7 as a man or woman, think it so she is. So remember your thoughts are creating your reality and they're generating your emotions. So if you're feeling stuck or unhappy or worried or depressed, start with your thoughts until next time.

Yeah. All right, everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise up and Shine podcast. If you haven't already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So you never miss an episode. And while you're at it, share this episode with a friend who, you know it can bless today. If you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at Clotting Sweeney dot com and Ashley at Mind over chaos dot com Are links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well. So remember, ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life. Yeah. Right.

Ep. 75 How To Stop Overthinking
Ep. 75 How To Stop Overthinking
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