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For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard only one piece of advice when it comes to overthinking: “don’t.”
Yet, personally, whenever I’d hear someone say that, be it to myself or another, I’ve never taken to it. And many of those I know who, like myself, identify as being prone to mulling over thoughts haven’t resonated with this advice either.
Sure, we are not served when we are paralyzed by thought, à la Hamlet. But there is a difference between thinking to the point of paralysis and spending more time in thought than…well, the average.
I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the latter. If one is contemplative, that shouldn’t be viewed as something to stop simply because it makes someone else uncomfortable, or because it isn’t the norm. I mean, after all, there are few examples of people living strictly in accordance with “the norm” who haven’t done anything remotely interesting with their lives.
More importantly, there is a gift in this so-called act of “overthinking.”
Our minds do not loop on thoughts that are meaningless. So, if there is something we are unable to “get out of our heads,” then there is good reason for it. Whatsoever has been triggered that is making this thought so interesting, and therefore ever-present in the forefront of our minds, carries with it a message. A message that our Higher Selves are calling us to sit up and pay attention to.
It may not be the most obvious message.
For instance, if we are thinking incessantly about the dishes in the sink that our partner left, the message likely has nothing to do with dishes per se, but rather what the dishes represent, how this act makes us feel—on a deeper level. Oftentimes, when we follow the feeling being triggered, by asking ourselves when the first time we remember feeling this way was and exploring that scenario, we discover a lot about ourselves, our conditioning, our patterning, and why certain things affect us.
When we are stewing over something, we are, in a way, hovering over a portal that, if journeyed into, will take us to our truth.
In this light, we can view the act of overthinking as a gift, because it is like a lightbulb signaling to us that we are about to go through a period of reflection, and subsequent growth. If, of course, we choose to address the root.
If we don’t, if we choose to suppress it and push it away—as the short-sighted advice to “stop overthinking” seems to recommend, we are turning away from this gift the Universe is offering to us.
To say it again, I am not referring to the sort of analysis-paralysis when I speak to “overthinking.” There is a difference. If we find ourselves caught in thought to the point where it is debilitating, then, while we certainly do need to get to the root of it, we are likely to need more as well. Like, for example, assistance from a therapist, coach, healer—whatever guide is calling to one’s unique soul.
So, the next time you find yourself “overthinking” or “obsessing” over something:
1. Drop the judgement. This is natural. It is happening for your growth.
2. Ask yourself what the feeling is that is associated with these incessant thoughts.
3. Dig into this feeling.
>> Is it attached to a story you’re telling yourself? What is that story?
>> When has this story played out in your life before?
>> If you can’t uncover a story, when have you physically felt this way in your body before?
4. Explore past experiences that come up for you through journalling what happened, or meditating on them.
>> Know that it may take time for memories to come to the surface. So, you may need to repeat your reflecting/meditating a few times to “massage” your nervous system, and allow for memories to arise.
5. Release these feelings through your modality (modalities) of choice.
>> Such as Reiki, acupuncture, neural reprogramming meditations, talk therapy, plant medicine, shamanism, Theta Healing.
>> Journalling may even be enough!
>> You’ll know you’ve released these feelings if you’ve cried, screamed, and/or there’s been an energetic shift in your body leaving you feeling lighter.