EP 06: Intentional Overthinking

June 25, 2022


You go hard all day and when you finally lay down to sleep… your brain keeps going! You just want to sleep, but the thoughts are whirring through your head. What’s a person to do?? Well, I’ve experienced this too and I’ve been working on an project to help with the problem. I’m in the Advanced Certification for Numbing & Buffering with Certified Master Coach, Rachel Hart, and my project for certification is on overthinking. So, take a listen to today’s podcast, give it a try, and let me know if it works for you!

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This is what I’m calling the better, late than never episode number six. 

Hey there. Welcome to the relationship reboot podcast. I’m your host, Sheila Morgan. Let’s reboot your relationship in three, two, one. 

Hello, everybody. I’m safely back in Oregon and I have my daughters and my daughter’s cat delivered. We had a long trip across the country. My son-in-law heard us back while they were packing up to move from Florida to Oregon. So my oldest daughter and I we took the red eye from Eugene to Orlando. 

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and it’s warm there. It’s been a cool June here in Oregon. It’s been cold and rainy. So arriving in Florida and it’s about 90 some degrees and humid with all of our baggage was not a great fun time, but I have to tell you spending time with my daughters was amazing. 

And we got my son-in-law on a flight back home, so he could rest and heal up. We loaded up the car and the cat and headed up through Atlanta. I got to visit with a dear friend of mine that I haven’t seen for years, and we just kept driving. After that. We made it almost to St. Louis that night, which was about a 16, 17 hour drive from Orlando. 

We stayed the night there. Then we drove from there to Denver the next day. It was a long day. We had to go through Kansas, all those flyover states. And man getting into Denver was interesting because Denver is still very flat. There’s still the prairie and all of that all the way into Denver. 

And then. It’s like Denver is, it’s like on the edge of the Rocky mountains there, but it was just so beautiful driving into those mountains and driving through all of that. We ended up going up into I think it’s Wyoming and then down into Utah and over to Boise, Idaho, and we stayed the night just outside of Boise, our last night on the road. 

So three nights, four days of driving to get my girls back home. And I am just thrilled. it was hard. It wore me out. It wore them out. But we were happy to get it done and happy to get my daughter and my son-in-law moved out here. Get her husband moved out here. Get them situated. And now I have, well, all my kids are at least on the west half of the country. 

And hopefully soon my son will be in one of the Western states, too. That’s exciting. I’m getting the family close together, closer together and I love it. Yeah. So that’s where I’ve been. And so today’s episode is being published a little bit late. But hey, better late than never, right?  

So I’m excited to share with you actually, what I’ve been working on, something I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. 

I’m in an Advanced Certification course where I am learning how to help people stop numbing and buffering their emotions. And numbing is when we don’t feel our emotions, we push them away. But buffering, is the action we take to avoid feeling them. Like drinking or eating or watching Netflix or anything like that. 

And poor Netflix. My gosh, any time people complain about not getting something done they’re like, oh, I spent all day watching Netflix, like as if Netflix is some horrible villain or something. And actually we all love Netflix. I mean, I’ve loved it ever since they delivered those little DVDs to my door. Remember those days? I loved it. 

So anyway, back to the subject. So, like I said the last couple of months I’ve been working on this project of overthinking. We were asked to create a coaching tool, a new coaching tool to help people. And it’s one of our projects to complete our certification. And I chose the topic of overthinking to create my tool for, and the reason why is because it’s something that I struggle with and I thought, okay, if I can help myself with overthinking and I can create something that will help other people. That just sounds amazing to me. That just sounds like exactly what I’m here for. Finding the problems that I have, that other people have in common with me. And that I share how I dealt with the situation. Like how I helped myself through whatever issues I’m dealing with and if I can help people with theirs, well, that, to me sounds like the absolute best thing.  

So I chose this project on overthinking and guess what happened? I spent the first month completely overthinking it. It was crazy! I found myself trying to include anything and everything I knew about overthinking, trying to come up with every solution I could possibly come up with every scenario, every problem that overthinking causes. Everything that causes overthinking. 

All the reasons why it happens, all the ways we can prevent it, all of the things. And I, I think I created like 15 tools now for dealing with overthinking. But I just need one that works. One good one that works. And so what I finally did was I just stripped it all down. I took everything back out and I started from scratch. 

And I asked myself, first of all, what is overthinking? And I realized that there’s this commonly held belief, that overthinking is your brain thinking too much. That it’s somehow bad or wrong that your brain is thinking as much as it is. And I wondered, “Is it? Is that what it is?” I mean, our brains are made for thinking. 

I mean, it’s like saying that a computer computes too much. It’s like computers are made for computing. You know? I mean it processes things, it figures things out and that’s, that’s what brains are for. Our brain figures things out. It’s literally meant to help us stay alive. And so it’s scanning, looking for danger processing things, figuring what to do, and how do we make our bodies stay alive? So it’s always thinking even when we’re sleeping. We go to sleep. The brain goes to work. And my understanding anyway, I didn’t verify this, sorry, but I’m sure, I feel like I’ve read somewhere that when you’re asleep, your brain actually is more active and that’s why we dream because your brain is just doing all this stuff. 

It’s like, go, go, go and buzzing. And yet when we lay down to go to sleep and it’s quiet, we can hear our brain. Like, “Oh, I’ve got this thing going on tomorrow. Sure hope I don’t screw it up. Oh man, it’s gonna be a problem. Oh, wow. And next week we got that big presentation.” And your brain just starts to go and you start to stress out. 

“Oh man, I’m not gonna get any sleep. Why can’t I shut my brain off?” All of those thoughts. And so I was wondering, is it, is it actually something that’s wrong? Is it something that’s making your brain have all of these thoughts or is it just that you’re finally quiet and that you can hear it? We have like 65,000 thoughts a day, and most of them are subconscious. You don’t normally hear them. But you lay down to go to sleep and you have these thoughts go through your brain and you try to force them away thinking they shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be hearing this. You’re laying there in bed. And these thoughts are coming in. And unless you’re intentionally meditating, you’re not just letting them slide back out of your brain. And you’re thinking, I’m trying to sleep. I shouldn’t have all these thoughts. It doesn’t make sense. Like why, why are we having these thoughts?  

Well, I think what it is is that most people… and that car just drove by outside. Sorry about that… I think that most people today just aren’t used to hearing themselves think, I mean, we even talked about this on the road trip. 

We turned on the radio because we got tired of listening to ourselves think, and it didn’t take very long either. Like there was usually a podcast or something playing. Myself, I love the silence. I love when it’s quiet. But I didn’t used to because I would mentally be beating myself up. My brain would just think, think, think I could hear all of it, all the chatter. 

And I didn’t like it. So I think the first thing that we need to do is just acknowledge that we’re just not used to hearing that until it gets quiet. So if we wanna stop overthinking is we wanna stop thinking that it’s a problem that there’s something wrong. And understand that thinking is just what our brain does. 

And I can hear you now. I can hear the question. So if overthinking is not a problem, then why do I feel so crappy when I’m doing it? What’s going on there? And I think what the problem is is the type of thoughts that we’re thinking. And I say that because your thoughts create your emotions. How you think dictates how you feel. 

So if you’re laying there and you have these thoughts, “oh man, tomorrow’s gonna be such a terrible day. It’s going to be a problem. I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” It makes sense to me that you’re going to feel bad. And when you feel bad, your brain tries to figure out how to fix the problem of feeling bad. 

So it starts to ask questions, questions. What’s the problem here. What’s wrong with me? The question what’s wrong with me? That’s a great example. It never leads to a good feeling. It actually causes your brain to give you a horrible answer because you think what’s wrong with me. It’s gonna say things like, “oh, well, you know, you’re a slack ass, or you should have planned ahead, or you always put things off to the last minute. You don’t know what you’re doing.”  

And those kinds of thoughts, guess what? They don’t feel good. They create bad emotions in your body. They feel really uncomfortable. And when you feel uncomfortable, what’s your brain going to do? It’s going to try to fix it. So it’s not that your brain is thinking too much. 

It’s that you’re thinking the same things over and over. You’re going over them again and again. So I invite you to let go of the judgment of how much your brain is thinking and the amount of thinking that it’s doing and see that it’s just that you’re thinking the same things over and over. You’re asking these questions that lead to negative answers… questions like “what’s wrong with me? What’s the problem. How come I always screw these things up?”  

And that’s, what’s causing you to feel. And it’s actually feeding this cycle of uncomfortable thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, asking more questions, creating more bad feelings, trying to fix that, asking more questions, more uncomfortable answers, more uncomfortable emotions, asking more questions. 

It just like this cycle that’s happening. That’s with the over and over and over thinking. So, once you identify that’s what’s happening in your brain, you can hear those questions happening. You can hear the answers that you’re giving yourself. You feel that uncomfortable feeling. It really does help you to soothe yourself by reminding yourself that it’s totally normal for your brain to be thinking. 

and of course you’re hearing it because it’s quiet and it seems like it’s too much. And the key is to stop resisting what your brain is doing. Stop resisting all of those thoughts that are going through your brain. You can hear them, let them come into your brain and float out like a cloud like you would do in meditation. 

Just notice the thought and let it go. Don’t tell yourself it’s wrong or that it’s bad or ask what’s wrong with me or that it’s a problem because these thoughts happen automatically. They’re normal. You cannot stop your thoughts. What we can do, however, is redirect them by acknowledging the thoughts that are happening. 

That it’s not a sign that there’s anything wrong with your brain, that nothing is happening out of the ordinary. It just happens to be quiet. You can hear your thoughts more than normal. There are questions being asked that are creating uncomfortable emotions. Your brain is just in a state of trying to fix it. 

That’s why it’s so important to stop trying to fix it and let it be for just a moment. If you can, just for a moment, just let it be. 

And start paying attention instead to the physical things around you. For instance, you’re lying in your bed, notice how it feels to lay in your bed. Notice the blankets on you or your pajamas. 

Notice how the pillow feels under your head, pay attention to your breathing. How are you breathing? You don’t have to change your breathing. Just notice it. Maybe put your hand on your heart and feel your heart beating. Can you hear any sounds in the room? Is your partner there? Do you hear any breathing from your partner? 

Maybe they’re snoring, maybe they’re tossing and they’re trying to get to sleep. Are there sounds from outside your room? Are the kids watching a show? Can you hear cars outside? Do you see any lights in your room? I try to keep my room as dark as possible, but sometimes there’s light, like from the smoke detector in the ceiling, that little red light, or there’s like light sneaking in between the curtains. 

If you lay there for just a few moments and take the focus away from the thoughts that are happening in your brain, and instead put them on the physicalness of your body in your bedroom. Or wherever you happen to be, maybe you’re sitting on the couch or wherever you are. 

If you can do that, you can interrupt the cycle that’s happening in your brain. And then you can start asking better questions, questions that are nonjudgmental questions that don’t lead to answers that make you feel. Things like, “Do I need to answer this problem right now? Can I think about this in the morning? Is this something I can do something about right now? When can I think about this?”  

You know, if you have a presentation next week and you’re worried about it tonight, is tonight the best time to lay here and think about it, or could you put it on your calendar for tomorrow? You notice that these questions have no judgment in them, in them whatsoever? 

The questions that were creating the overthinking are very judgemental. They were asking, why is this a problem? Why is this so bad? Why are you so bad? But the questions in this second part are all about possibility. What can I create? What can I do about this? What could this look like? How can I do this better? 

The quality of the questions that you ask yourself, have a direct bearing on the quality of the answers you’re going to get. So if you’re going to do some overthinking, I invite you to be intentional about it.  

Notice the questions that you ask yourself and make sure that they are questions that work for you, that you like the answers to the questions you’re asking, because there’s nothing wrong with overthinking. 

It’s not a problem. It’s a symptom caused by your thoughts about a situation you are avoiding, something you’re concerned about, that you just haven’t addressed appropriately. And your brain is bringing it up now because you haven’t really been listening to it the rest of the day. And it’s quiet now.  

So next time you find yourself overthinking, remember, it’s not a problem that you have all of these thoughts. You’re not having any more thoughts than usual. Your brain is always thinking. Just allow that you’re having thoughts. Notice the thoughts you’re having. What are you asking yourself? What answers are you giving yourself? Are you beating yourself up? 

Are you making yourself wrong? Are you thinking there’s something wrong with your brain or wrong with you? Are you even, are you identifying as an overthinker as if it’s something you can’t change about yourself? Like, that’s a biggie. Like, let’s be careful not to take on labels as though they are absolute. This creates this hard and fast rule about yourself as if you can’t change it.  

But everyone thinks. Everyone’s brain does this. You are not abnormal having a brain that thinks. Overthinking just means you’re having the same thoughts over and over. And the reason you are is because you’re feeling uncomfortable, your brain’s trying to fix it, but you’re just asking the wrong questions. 

So we want to lovingly interrupt that. Bring yourself present to your physicalness, to your body, to where you are in the moment. Bring yourself present rather than thinking about the future or mulling over the past. Bring yourself into the here and now and it gives you that space, that opportunity to ask yourself questions that are productive, that help you have at least a resolution in the moment. “This is something I can put on my calendar to think about tomorrow. This is something that I can sit down and decide on tomorrow. I can create a plan for a conversation. I can be intentional.”  

You don’t have to make that decision tonight or do all the planning tonight. Just make a note of when you will sit down and do that and ease your mind a bit. 

All right. My loves. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for your kind notes and love and attention for the last few weeks for me. I really appreciate it. It was quite a little bit of drama and I’m glad to be through it, and that we’re all getting settled down now. So I hope you’re having wonderful weather like we are here and I’ll talk to you again next week. 

Bye bye.

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