27 May 2024

You've been lied to! Overthinking is a tool, we've just been using it wrong.

Created by JD using StarryAI

“You’re overthinking things again!”

“You’re imagining it all!”

“You’re acting crazy again!”

“It’s all in your head!”

The classic overthinker would have heard these statements many times in their life. From a partner or other loved one, parent or sibling, or anyone that used this against you.

Many people think that overthinking is obsessing over something constantly. It’s not; that’s obsessing. Overthinking is a state of mind where you always think about everything. Multiple conversations are playing in your mind about how they could have happened and how they did happen. The variations of how they could have happened. Future discussions around the same topic and what you would say, what kind of reply they’d come back with—all the variations of that. At the same time, thinking about work tomorrow, an event five years ago. What you are going to have for dinner that night? All at once. Constantly.

This is why unchecked overthinking leads to anxiety, depression, and disassociation, amongst other things. When someone says one of those statements to you like that, they gaslight you—sowing seeds of doubt and confusion to throw your instincts off the trail.

How often has your overthinking turned out to be on the money?

Overthinking is a trauma response developed from a young age. Over the years well-meaning friends or family have said these statements that don't help, coupled with partners gaslighting you, your overthinking does become problematic. It is a tool, unfortunately, you haven’t figured out how to use it correctly. You wouldn't use a hammer to clean the window, that's not using that tool correctly.

When someone understands you and your overthinking, they will say, after you've spilled everything out.

“Are you sure you aren’t just overthinking things?”

Do you see the difference? The earlier examples are accusations. They are throwing you off your thoughts—the doubt and confusion. The second one, after listening, asks you the question. They prompt you to analyse your thoughts in a safe environment.

Why do I think overthinking is a tool? Because I’ve managed to retrain my mind to use it how I feel it was supposed to be used. A link between your intuition and your mind gives the answers you seek. Even when you don’t know what the question is yet.

It took many years for me to get to that stage, as I’d get caught up in my old habits of letting the thoughts get carried away like a cyclone in my mind—stress-inducing. I was heading towards anxiety. So I started practicing a technique for when a particular subject was beginning to overrule other thoughts. When it was becoming centre stage with all the usual thoughts swirling around it.

I’d take 5 minutes away from everyone. Calm down my mind. Using visualisation techniques, I would take the thoughts I was having trouble with. I would place them in a box in my mind. Shut the lid and write on a Post-it note,
“Provide me with the answer or solution when I am ready for it.”
I'd stick that to the lid and then I would send the box down a lengthy conveyor belt, through a wall, into my subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind and intuition have a more precise communication signal than either has with your conscious mind. The conscious mind is full of distractions, constantly bombarded by information and input. There’s too much noise.

Once the primary thoughts are in that box, I’ve calmed the conscious mind somewhat. Forget about the thoughts that are in that box. The answer will come. Usually, it’s within a few days. Sometimes in the middle of the night, while taking a shower or driving your car. Some tasks where you often can go on autopilot. Those times you’ve driven somewhere, a place you always go. Like work, and you realise that you don’t remember driving there. You arrive and your mind comes out of autopilot and you don't recall anything about the trip.

It’s in those moments that you've opened those paths of communication, from your subconscious mind to your "gut instinct". The answer, the solution, what you need to move forward on that particular issue. Like when I've had a decision to make over quitting the current job to take the one that appears to be a better offer. I'll just wake up in the morning and it's a solid yes or no answer.

Doing this exercise regularly it’s now second nature to me. I’m not saying this exercise will work for you; it’s worth a shot. Find what works for you, what imagery works for you. If visuals don’t work for you, find something else that might work. Write the issue on a piece of paper, stick it under your pillow, and ask for the answer or solution to come to you when it’s ready. Read the paper before you go to sleep. Reread it in the morning. Try anything. Write it up in the top corner of your bathroom mirror. You won't always consciously look at it, your subconscious, however, records every single detail we see, hear, feel. So your subconscious mind will register that it's there, that question. It will work on it.

I’m still an overthinker, like nothing else. I have trouble getting to sleep because of it. Now though, I have more control over it than it does over me. I’m using the tool how my mind had meant for it to be used. I have found now that my intuition is a stronger and louder voice. So I listen to it more.

Take your power back, and utilise the tools how you are meant to. Those that try to create doubt and confusion within you, won't have that power anymore.

Originally published on Zirkels

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