Practical Growth: A Self-Recovery Podcast

Crushing Overthinking: Practical Steps to Put Your Mind at Ease

October 26, 2023 Season 3 Episode 315
Practical Growth: A Self-Recovery Podcast
Crushing Overthinking: Practical Steps to Put Your Mind at Ease
Practical Growth | Self-Recovery
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you find yourself trapped in the cycle of overthinking, plagued by self-doubt? It's a common struggle, but there's a way out.

Join me in this episode as I delve deep into the roots of overthinking and self-doubt. Discover the underlying factors that drive these habits, and gain insights into regaining control over your decision-making.

In this engaging conversation, I'll give you a practical framework designed to help you break free from the chains of overthinking and self-doubt. It's time to reclaim the happiness you truly deserve.

Tune in now to take the first step toward a more confident and empowered you.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Practical Growth podcast with me, ebi Johnson. Author, nlpmp and cognitive reappraisal coach. This is the podcast created for people like you, people looking for more, more health, more peace, more happiness. Each week, I explore a new topic in pop psychology and help you build a better life and better relationships. Join me for special guests, exciting ideas and practical advice that you can use to improve your life from the inside out. Let's get into it. Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to another great episode of the Practical Growth podcast. It is me, ebi Johnson, your favorite writer, your favorite coach and your favorite, ever-present TikTok personality, and I am back with another great episode of this podcast where I break down practical tips that help you improve your daily life.

Speaker 1:

And today we are tackling something that I know is hitting so many of you hard at this time of the year. It affects me, it affects you and it has affected so far every single one of my clients. And this is it the notorious overthinker that lurks in the back of your mind. You know the one. It's that voice that makes you stay awake at night, that puts a million different thoughts racing through your head, whispering all that doubt into your ear. It causes stress, it causes anxiety and it might even be causing you physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, diet problems. I mean, we've got to face it right. Overthinking is a bad habit that's common to many survivors of narcissistic families, toxic adult relationships and chaotic childhoods. That overthinker, it pops up at the most inconvenient times. It makes you question every decision and what's really crazy is we've all been there, but we all still feel alone in the experience. So today we are going to talk about moving beyond that overthinking. We're going to be talking about more than that learning to trust yourself, letting go of the past, focusing on the present moment, taking action in true alignment. And that's the really hard part, right? Because to get beyond overthinking, that's true, that's it. We have to embrace the unknown, we have to live into the moment and learn to force ourselves out of that worry, out of all that dwelling on what might happen in the future or what happened in the past.

Speaker 1:

So in this episode, I'm going to deep dive into the world of overthinking with you and I'm going to give you the tools that you need to finally put your mind at ease no more second guessing, no more anxiety, no more sleepless nights. Okay, after this episode, after I share these practical steps, these tips, these tricks with you. You are going to have what you need to walk away and break this cycle in your life once and for all. So sit back, relax and get ready to crush your overthinking patterns with me. It's time to take control of your thoughts and start living the life that you want to lead. Let's get into it. All right, let's start at the very beginning. Let's get right into the meat of it.

Speaker 1:

What is overthinking? What does it look like? What am I talking about? Because? Is it just like doubting what you put on your grocery list? Absolutely not.

Speaker 1:

Overthinking is a super common phenomenon that affects the vast majority of adults, whether or not they have a significant history of trauma or not. Okay, it's a state where, essentially, you find yourself struggling to turn off your thoughts, to control your mind, and then you'll also find yourself spinning down those rumination cycles that we talked about a few weeks ago for extended periods of time. Overthinking itself can take a lot of different forms and it can look different from person to person, but usually it involves worrying about the same thing over and over and over again, doubting yourself, and it leads to all this excess stress, anxiety and even hopelessness and depression. So what would the specific symptoms be? Right, because that's pretty broad. That breakdown, which is from WebMD, by the way, is pretty broad. What could we look for in our lives if we might have a pattern of overthinking? Well, it might look like second guessing yourself. It might look like catastrophic thinking, always believing the worst is going to happen, like crazy scenarios. It could look like dwelling on the past. It could manifest as an obsession with controlling everything and everyone around you and it could also kind of pop up, crop up, manifest as reimagining your mistakes, putting yourself back in all those times when you felt humiliated or you did the wrong thing, and avoiding serious decisions as well, like not taking action in your life.

Speaker 1:

People who get trapped in this kind of pattern, these ruminations, this overthinking it's extremely harmful and they can exhibit any mix of the symptoms above. You can have one, you can have all, you can have some in the beginning and then maybe it looks different at the end. There's different ways this manifests, but fundamentally they're all kind of cropping up and doing the same thing, preventing you from living your life. I'll give you a couple examples of how this overthinking has kind of popped up for me and how it manifested in me and how it kind of affected me. So for me there were several different ways.

Speaker 1:

One of the most common ways that I slip into this overthinking pattern I still do it, right, I consciously have to kind of combat myself is worrying about the future when something pops up, there's a decision that's made, there's something that's got to be done, or even when I just have to think about my future in general, I tend to create unrealistic scenarios. Right, that's my kind of default positioning. I create these big scenarios in my mind that might not even happen. For example, let's say I was about to take a new job. Okay, I got offered a new job. It could even be my dream job.

Speaker 1:

But my mind, once it got past the initial excitement right, the kind of yay, it would immediately start sliding into all these possible scenarios of bad things that might happen in the workplace. Okay, I'm going to get sat next to someone who hates me. I'm going to get sat next to someone who makes me do all their work for them. I'm going to have a boss that hates me. I'm never going to have any upward mobility. I'm going to be leaving my friends behind. I'm stepping into this new unknown. I'm going to lose the job, I'm going to this, I'm going to that, right. I would go even as far sometimes as thinking about extremes, right, like you're going to get there and they're going to look at you and say no, thank you, we actually made a mistake, get out of this building. And then you're going to be screwed because you've left your other job. And yada, yada, yada, yada, yada and this type of overthinking.

Speaker 1:

Every time I stepped into a new workplace, it set me back immensely. It set me back immensely. It created walls. I didn't want to. I was too like, scared, hesitant to really show my true self and really connect with my coworkers on deep, meaningful levels. I couldn't perform to my best, I couldn't be fully productive because I was in such in this like scared. I'm small place. I lost my confidence and anxiety would set in. That's just one way overthinking would spiral out in my life.

Speaker 1:

Another way overthinking can take place in my life and it's probably the same for you is that I can find myself replaying past events over and over and over again, same things that happened years ago. I find myself second guessing them, second guessing the decisions that I made which, what's the point right and wishing that I had chosen a different path. And this constant rumination creates feelings of guilt and worse, feelings of self doubt that affect the decisions I'm making right here right now, and it can also trigger in me certain behavioral patterns. It can make me isolate, it can make me avoid social situations and it can lead to a decrease in confidence, and this like the social connections that I'm able to maintain. So that is kind of overthinking in a wide bubble what it looks like and what it is now. Why does it happen? So in general, it's thought that there are four reasons that we get caught up in these patterns. So many of us are affected, are delayed, are held back by this pattern of self doubt and overthinking.

Speaker 1:

Number one poor mental health. Obviously right. If you have issues like depression and anxiety going on, you're more than likely going to fall into overthinking your rumination patterns. Negative thinking patterns become easier to adopt when you're already dealing with negative experiences in the mind and the body and the external environment. People who are suffering with mental health feel like they are out of control, and when you are out of control you start thinking frantically about how you get out of that position and how you regain some control over life. And what's really sad is that some people, when it comes down to their mental health and this overthinking, they believe they get into this magical trap of they believe. If they think enough, if they just go back into the past enough, if they just analyze themselves and everything in the world enough, the suffering will end. That's not realistic, because to be alive is to experience suffering. You're, in nature, man.

Speaker 1:

So the second big reason that you are probably such an overthinker is a limited self view, a limited sense of self. When you have a weak sense of self or low self-esteem, it becomes very easy to overthink and doubt everything. Right? Because when you are someone with low self-esteem who second guesses themselves, you doubt your ability. You think, well, I can't make good choices because look at all the bad choices that I've made. Right? You have this very limited view of what you're capable of, what you're worthy and deserving of and what you kind of have the right to go after. So that limits your courage and that limits your ability to act in the name of your highest good. Because, believe me, it takes courage to act in the name of your highest good, because sometimes that's going to go against the grade of the people around you, okay, and then all of that warps the opportunities that you're able to realize and create for yourself.

Speaker 1:

The third big reason that we become overthinkers is a history of trauma. No surprise there, right, if you had an overly critical parent, if you grew up in an emotionally unstable, unsafe environment, then there's a direct link to that and your ability to kind of confidently make decisions and take action for yourself in adulthood. There's no denying it. Okay, there's a link between survivors of trauma and remuneration. Trauma leaves survivors uncertain about their futures. Nothing feels quite real, nothing feels like it's yours, nothing feels safe, and that just creates this permanent sense of uncertainty, which is fear, which is anxiety, and then that, coupled with people who have a limited self view, these trauma survivors slip into magical thinking traps again. They think themselves deeper into traps or scary. They run away from that sense of awareness and they get stuck in a pattern of numbness and repeating all the cycles. Okay, so history of trauma definitely feeds into negative life experiences, which feeds into overthink.

Speaker 1:

And last but not least, the fourth big reason that it's thought that we develop these patterns of overthinking is a need for control. Okay, there's a need for control. And as survivors, a lot of us, we grew up so out of control or being so crushed under the control of others, the pressure of others, that when we go through and grow up we have this really powerful need to control everything around us because we think if we control everything around us then we'll be safe, we'll be happy, you know, finish line, great. So that distinct need for control can actually trigger overthinking in some people. Okay, very literal thinkers, these types of people. They imagine that attacking the issues from all the right angles will give them total emotional control. If I just think through everything, I will be in control.

Speaker 1:

But when we think that way, we corner ourselves, okay, and we gain no more control over the circumstances. We actually feel more out of control, we set ourselves up for failure and then that leads to more hopelessness, more depression, more anxiety, more anger, more resentment. Yada, yada, yada, yada, yada, yada. Right, we work ourselves up. When we have to think through every single thing, you can't have all the details. Sometimes you just have to act on knowing what's right and what's wrong, without overthinking. Okay, because when you do this you can trigger catastrophic thinking. When you're this kind of person, okay when you have to spiral yourself down that hole of I gotta think through every single detail. It leads to catastrophic thinking and it increases your stress and it minimizes your personal opportunities. And you know that is a big part of where you need to focus as someone who is trying to break these patterns of overthinking.

Speaker 1:

Okay, the cost of that overthinking. What has it cost you to keep yourself stuck in this self-doubt, in this self-denial? Because, believe you me, it comes with a cost. If you don't move beyond this overthinking every single thing you do, doubting every single thing, second guessing every single thing, you'll notice physical symptoms right Right off the bat. Right off the bat. You will have difficulty sleeping, you will feel tired, you will have racing mind, racing heart, persistent worry. You might have dietary issues. When those things start happening, you might notice inflammation throughout the body. You might notice lower to immune function. Cortisol levels are gonna rise, which is gonna lead to a whole host of other problems.

Speaker 1:

Right, there's a lot of things that are tied into people who spend considerable amounts of time worrying about what might happen or what they've done, or what they should do, or what they shouldn't do, or what has already occurred, rather than living in the present moment, okay. The negative effects of overthinking, even worse, can hamper personal and professional growth. It gets in the way Whether you're trying to find the perfect relationship or the perfect family, or the perfect job. This overthinking causes you to miss out on opportunities and delay progression. Okay, overthinking it limits your productivity. It limits your creativity, your imagination. It reduces your cognitive decision-making abilities. All right, that is a cost, that's a high cost. How can you function at your best when you don't have full cognitive function, when your brain isn't working the way it should be? Okay.

Speaker 1:

So the concept of overthinking it's similar to that of anxiety as well. Okay, that's something that might help you take this more seriously. Put a stop to this. Okay, because anxiety, it's kind of a more extreme version that involves uncontrollable worrying and inability to calm your mind. And overthinking is a lot like that.

Speaker 1:

And people with anxiety, as we know, as we are willing to openly acknowledge, they find it challenging to live a normal life. They have such an intense fear and worry that it impacts their physical, emotional and psychological well-being. And overthinking is the same. It gets in the way of everything in your life. So you have to break that pattern and stop doubting yourself, and I know what you're thinking. I know what you're thinking. Eb easier said than done. It's always easier said than done, that's you know. Yeah, okay, I'm not saying it's as easy as walking down to the shop and getting a pint of milk, but you can stop doubting yourself. And what's going to happen now is I'm going to give you my surefire steps for you to break that pattern, for you to counter this overthinking, to counter this self-doubt and to start taking action for yourself.

Speaker 1:

So it's that time again in the show. Get out the pen and paper If you want to write this down. This is it. Here we go. How are you going to stop doubting yourself? How are you going to stop overthinking? Well, first and foremost, you have to understand that it requires action. So many of us get caught up in this internal. I'm going to change myself by changing my thoughts. It's only a piece of the puzzle. You have to take action, and the smallest piece of action that you can take is always the best, and that's what these tips are about the smallest actions that you can take right now.

Speaker 1:

When you stop listening to this podcast episode and you go back into your life, you go back into your kids, to your husband, to your wife, to your job, whatever it is. This is how you are going to overcome your rumination patterns, okay, and this is how you're going to build on acceptance, encourage and take action in your life. Number one you need to embrace the reality. Okay, you need to embrace the reality of your overthinking. And here it is. Number one you can't think yourself out of every situation. Life is life. It's chaotic, it's uncertain, it's unpredictable Period. If anyone could predict life, they would be living on absolute easy street. And, believe me, no one is living on absolute easy street, okay. So embrace reality. You also need to embrace the fact that there's a certain level of self-awareness, okay, there's a certain level of self-awareness that has to come into you.

Speaker 1:

Slipping out of this overthinking, you have to notice when you are letting yourself slide back into that. Well, did I say the right thing? Did I do the right thing? Should I have done that? How did they feel? How did I feel? But what if I had done this other thing? No, no more of that. Okay, no more of that. Keep a journal, keep a log if you have to Start noticing the patterns. What triggers you into overthinking? What triggers you? When you have this awareness, you can start countering it. You can then turn that critical, doubting voice into a person that you silence, that you put in the back seat. Whenever this cycle, this situation, this spiral happens, right. So embrace reality also, and this is a really, really big part of this.

Speaker 1:

Okay, before we move on to the rest of the steps, you need to understand that it doesn't matter. We put so much emotional importance, importance on our experiences because we are anxious about surviving them the physical experience, the emotional experience of surviving them, of going through them, but then we get to the other side and it doesn't matter. 20 years pass and suddenly that big moment doesn't matter. We pass away and suddenly that big moment doesn't matter. Imagine yourself when you fall into these rumination patterns, these overthinking patterns. Imagine that you were standing on a planet on the edge of our solar system and looking through a telescope at Earth. It just doesn't matter, right? That kind of distance allows you to see that so much of the stuff that we build up is life or death. It's not. That's our trauma, that's our dysregulated nervous systems sending the wrong electrical signals to our brain. Fundamentally, so much of the things that we choose or don't choose doesn't matter. Life goes on Right On a happier note.

Speaker 1:

Number two the second thing that you need to do to beat your overthinking pattern identify your spheres of control. Your spheres of control this is a huge one. When you start feeling powerless, you know what. You know what helps Identifying where you actually hold easy, natural power, and guess where that is On the self, okay, the self Zero, in on those parts of yourself which you can control. You can control your thoughts, you can control your emotions, and when you start doing that, you can then look outside of yourself and go what can I actually change around me? If I can't change this big thing that was causing me worry, then what can I change? Can I change my reaction? Can I change my abilities, my skill sets, the way I react? Absolutely, what is realistically in control? When you root your focus in those places, it becomes easier to take action instead of sitting in fear, running all the programs through your head, wondering which one you should pick.

Speaker 1:

Number three create limits with yourself. Set boundaries with yourself. Stop allowing yourself to behave this way when you feel the need to really think into the meat of that problem which we do, right, I'm not saying stop thinking about the past, stop thinking about bad things and taking the lessons. We have to encounter those things from time to time. But limit yourself, set boundaries. I always tell my clients let's say you're journaling about something bad that happened in your childhood because it's been coming up and you need to get why it's coming up and you need to just sort it out. You're going to sit in journal, set a timer, set a freaking timer, and when the timer is up, that's it. You pull yourself out of that session, out of that memory, and you leave the room and you go do something positive with people that you love or something that brings you joy, that gets those endorphins going up, that serotonin. That's limits, lending limits, not allowing yourself to tip over the edge into that over thing.

Speaker 1:

Number four you need to start taking aligned action. That's how you counter your overthinking. When that voice pops up and tells you stop, we need to think this through, you act. You act to spite that voice. Now you can't just be shooting arrows in the dark because you're going to land in an even bigger mess. So the action has to be aligned. And what does that mean? That means that it has to be an action that is based on your core values and beliefs. Your core values and beliefs. So you have to figure those out. What is actually valuable to you in relationships, in your career, in your personal growth, in your spiritual journey, whatever it is? Figure out what your values are and then always make the choice, immediately, take the action that aligns with your values.

Speaker 1:

Then, last but not least, the fifth tip, technique trick, and it's a doozy increase your sense of self. Lean into your authenticity, lean into your weirdness. You start in the simplest way possible Do things that you're good at, do things that you're passionate about. Chase your curiosity. Lean into those groups where you feel energetic and filled up, and all those good things hobbies, special interest groups, all of it. Do things that you're good at. Do things that you're passionate about. Do things that you're curious about. Go out and meet new people, have new experiences, and this will increase your self-esteem and your sense of self. You will be able to figure out who you really are and what you really want, and when you know those things, you stop doubting yourself because it's clear that future you want. You can see it, you can taste it, you can touch it. Okay, so increase that sense of self.

Speaker 1:

Start doing something every day that is fully and authentically you and, as always, if these have become really huge patterns in your life that are really preventing you from taking action, get professional help. Get professional help, Reach out, talk to somebody. I'm not saying you have to talk to me, although I love helping people defeat this voice but reach out. Find a therapist, find a group. There's lots of groups online that talk about this, that explore ways to beat this. Get out there, do something, get help. You don't have to do this alone. So, as I kind of wind this episode down to its close, that's what I want you to be thinking about. I want you to be thinking about that authentic self, that true you, and what your life would become if you could just embrace that person and start taking action, because there is really nothing but the veil of fear between you and that life and you just have to put your hand through the veil and pass through or not.

Speaker 1:

I hope that this episode has given you some practical insights on overcoming this overthinking. It's a common experience, but it's debilitating, man. It is so debilitating and it robs us of our peace of mind, our productivity, our joy in life Joy in life. But there's power in remembering that you are not alone. You're not alone and by taking action simple action, you know, deep but straightforward action with a mindset shift, you can start putting your mind to ease. And when you do that, you will create. You will, you know, take root in a present fulfilling life.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so, all those steps above keep focused. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen if you just hold the faith and keep going. Outside of that, remember to breathe deeply, to connect with that inner voice. Break these tasks down into small, manageable steps. It doesn't have to all happen at one time. Stay focused on the bigger picture and, above all, be kind.

Speaker 1:

Okay, be patient with yourself. Progress takes time and it takes practice. You're going to fail, you're going to get it wrong, but eventually you're going to get it right and then you won't even care about all the times you got it wrong before. So, before I go, I do want to leave you with a thought. It's a little bit cheesy, but I love this thought.

Speaker 1:

I love this quote, and it is from Theodore Roosevelt, and he said if you believe you can, you're halfway there. And that is so true, so true If you can adopt the right mindset and you can adopt that determination that I will have that life that I need, that I want at all costs, then you can crush your overthinking. You can achieve your dreams one step at a time. So don't give up on yourself. Don't give up on your goals. Don't start thinking oh well, I guess it's just not possible for me. Okay, every setback is an opportunity to learn and to grow, and that's all we're here to do. So I believe in you and I'm rooting for your success. Remember that, if nothing else.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so so much for listening today. Remember, if you want to find out more about coaching with me, head over to therealebjohnsoncom and click on working with me. My two month program is now closed for the year. However, I have just opened up single one hour sessions that you can book with me, and those will be open until December 15th on a first come, first serve basis. No application needed. Just go and click on the link and you'll be taken straight to my booking page and you can book a slot for yourself right there. So if you want to find out about that, book yourself a single slot, then head over to therealebjohnsoncom and click on articles and you'll see it right there All the information, you need to book your single one hour session with me until December 15th. So, for everyone else, thank you again. Keep following me on medium, on sub snack, on Tik Tok, on Instagram and beyond, because you know I'll be here. We back next week. Until next time, keep your heads up, keep your eyes on the stars and keep moving forward. Bye, bye.

Conquering Overthinking and Taking Control
The Costs of Overthinking and Self-Doubt
(Cont.) The Costs of Overthinking and Self-Doubt