Articles/Trauma Bytes/Overthinking

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Linda-maree Conyard

We've all been there at times throughout our lives - lying awake at night, trapped in a relentless loop of thoughts that refuse to quiet down. Overthinking can be a stubborn companion that prevents us from healing our trauma, amplifying stress and undermining our well-being. In this edition of Trauma Bytes, let's explore how to rein in the overthinking mind and practice mastery of the mind.

Overthinking often arises from our brain's innate need to process and make sense of experiences, which can be especially challenging for those healing from trauma. When we're caught in this mental whirlwind, our mind races through various scenarios, dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. The result? Increased anxiety, disrupted sleep, and a depletion of mental and physical energy.

Here are three of my tips for how we can break free from the grip of overthinking.

You may like to test each one, then pick one, and practice using that process. Monitor how you are before and after, so you can bring into your conscious awareness what the impact of your work has been.

​1. Set Time Limits
Designate specific periods for thinking and problem-solving. When thoughts arise outside these designated times, gently remind yourself that you'll address them during your scheduled "thinking time." With practice, this will help prevent overthinking from invading every moment of your day. Be prepared for your well-worn subconscious habit of going into overthinking to be the first thing that happens. This is totally normal, and you need to interrupt the pattern and invite your overthinking mind to wait until it's time to think.

Set yourself up for success: Make the thinking times frequent in the beginning so that you have the opportunity to create a gap where your mind is more settled. This is especially helpful when you have a very dominant mind.

2. Challenge Negative Patterns
Overthinking often involves negative thought patterns and self-criticism. When you catch yourself spiralling into negativity, challenge these thoughts. Maybe you spend most of your time in negative thinking, and that's ok; just start where you judgment. One rule is that you are only able to work with one thought at a time!

Ask yourself: Is this thought true?

If you answer yes, then ask: How do I know it is true? (you may not know why you think it is true)

If you answer no and if you ask yourself the second question, ask: If that's not true, or I don't know how it is true, then what is the truth? Or what is an alternative thought which has a perspective of being more true?

Set yourself up for success: For the negative thought to be true, it needs to be proven and not someone else's words that you have taken on. For example, if you were always silenced as a child, you may have the thought that ‘you can't be heard’ or you can't speak. This thought is created as true for you because you have taken it on as true because of your childhood environment. It's not the truth from the place of who you truly are.

3. Invite in Self-Compassion
Be gentle and understanding with yourself. Recognise there is a reason that you have developed this survival skill of overthinking. Overthinking is a very common challenge, especially for those committed to their healing. When you choose to heal, you start to see what has been out of your awareness instead of being on autopilot. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would wish for yourself. At some point in your life, overthinking saved you. The question now is, do you still need to save yourself, or are you trapped in a survival pattern?

Set yourself up for success: When we experience an overwhelming situation, and we don't have the resources to resolve what happened to us at the time, we learn to exit the body, and we use the mind to manage ourselves. The long-term issue with this is that we end up staying in survival mode and disconnect from who we truly are, and miss living our life's full potential. Now that's sad! Additionally, there is a lost opportunity for us to bring into the world what we need to share.

Remember, taming the overthinking mind takes time and practice. Just as healing from trauma is a process, so is quieting the chaotic thoughts. By setting time boundaries, challenging negative patterns, and cultivating self-compassion, you will gradually reduce the grip of overthinking and experience more calm and clarity.

​Enjoy practicing working with overthinking.

​I love hearing from you and receiving your updates, so please keep them coming.

​May you be well, may you be happy, and may you have inner peace.

Linda ♡

If you try out any offered practices, I’d love to hear how you found them and what you now understand that you didn’t before. I love, love, love hearing from you guys.

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Disclaimer: All information provided throughout this website is purely for education purposes only. Anyone wanting to make changes to their health and wellbeing needs to connect with their own health professional. If you choose to implement any ideas provided here, you do so of your own accord and at your own risk. Linda-maree, Conyard cannot take responsibility or liability whatsoever for any harm from the use or dissemination of the information provided on this website.

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