Do you ever find yourself stuck in your head, overthinking, obsessing, thoughts going round and round like a gerbil on a hamster wheel? (Usually leaving you feeling drained and inadequate?)
You’re not alone. In fact, when author Jon Acuff and Dr. Michael C. Peasley asked 10,000 people if they struggle with overthinking, a staggering 99.5% responded with a resounding “yes.” It’s a common struggle. One that steals time, creativity, and goals.
But what if I told you there’s more to it than meets the eye? What if I told you instead of trying to outrun your overthinking, you should instead move closer to it?
Too often, you hear advice like, ‘When we don’t control our thoughts, our thoughts control us.’ But is that truly how you want to live your life – fighting for control all the time? That just pits you against yourself, creating more anxiety and fear. That’s neither peaceful nor thriving.
Most people fail to recognize the crucial link between overthinking and unprocessed emotions. That’s why so many of the solutions suggested only give short-term relief.
The Overthinking Conundrum:
Picture this: You’re about to make an important decision or face a challenging situation. Suddenly, your mind starts racing, replaying scenarios and analyzing every possible outcome. Sound familiar? We tend to attribute overthinking to external factors like stress, uncertainty, or perfectionism. While these play a part, the true culprit lies within our emotional landscape.
Worry and rumination can trick you into thinking you’re doing something beneficial or productive. You may feel it demonstrates that you care or it prepares you for possible bad outcomes.
But overthinking more often leads to inaction rather than solutions because it creates overwhelm. Ruminating isn’t the same as problem-solving; we can waste hours in unproductive mental loops.
Also, rumination wreaks havoc on your mental health. It tends to produce anxiety. And as your mental health declines, you tend to ruminate more leading to an unhealthy cycle that’s difficult to break free from.
The Role of Unprocessed Emotions:
Overthinking is often a result of unprocessed emotions lingering beneath the surface. Instead of facing and processing our feelings head-on, we try to reason them away or bury them deep inside. But guess what? Emotions have a sneaky way of resurfacing and demanding attention. By ignoring them, we inadvertently give them power over our thoughts, leading to a never-ending loop of overthinking.
The Power of Emotional Processing:
So, how can we escape this mental prison? It starts with understanding that the thing making your thoughts sticky so they keep going round and round are the emotions associated with them. With that understanding, you’re able to begin acknowledging and processing your emotions properly.
Take Emma, for example. She was a talented musician who found herself starting to drown in self-doubt before performances. She found herself battling her thoughts and trying to push through. She found her stress increasing and her passion and enjoyment decreasing.
Finally, she learned how to listen to her feelings. That increased her self-trust and allowed her to start embracing her authentic self. The emotional processing journey not only heightened her connection with the music but also empowered her to deliver heartfelt performances in a heightened experience of flow.
Embracing Your Emotional Journey:
Processing emotions may sound daunting, but it’s a transformative journey that leads to personal and professional growth. It’s the foundation of you thriving.
Here are a few steps to get started:
- Awareness: Recognize the emotions underlying your overthinking. Don’t dismiss them or sweep them under the rug. They hold valuable insights about your inner and outer world.
- Connect to Your Body: Notice where your awareness is. Most often when you’re in overthinking mode, your awareness is up around your head. Bring it down into your body until it feels fully grounded in your body. That in itself will change how you’re feeling and showing up. Surprisingly, it even changes the way you think. And you’ll gain a sense of relaxation and calm.
- Feel: You’d think feeling your emotions would be easy. But I can tell you from the experience of countless clients that it’s not. Our fear and avoidance of our emotions runs deep.
One of the easiest ways to begin tuning into your emotions is to feel them in the body. Emotions have corresponding sensations in your body. Pay attention to cues such as a tightness in your chest, a knot in your stomach, a lump in your throat, a warmth or tingling sensation, or a heaviness or lightness in different parts of your body. These physical sensations can serve as indicators of the presence and intensity of various emotions.
Bring your attention to those sensations. Stay with them as they process and morph and you’ll find a). they slowly dissipate and b). information and insights pop up. Allow yourself to experience and process them fully, letting go of any attachments or self-judgment along the way (or feeling though those attachments and judgements). Note that feelings are complex and you may discover layers of emotions.
The more you process your emotions, the quieter your inner space becomes. You also become a better thinker. By reconnecting with your body and feelings, you tap into your gut instinct and a wealth of knowledge that would otherwise remain untapped. Research shows that combining intuition with analytical thinking leads to better, faster, and more accurate decision-making and boosts your confidence in your choices. For instance, in one study, car buyers who relied solely on careful analysis were happy with their purchases around 25% of the time, while those who made intuitive decisions were happy 60% of the time.
Overthinking isn’t merely a product of external factors or a battle for control. It’s usually rooted in unprocessed emotions demanding your attention. You can break free from the endless loop of overthinking and unlock your full potential simply by experiencing your feelings. So, take a deep breath, connect with your emotions, and embark on this journey of self-discovery. It’s time to quiet the noise, trust your inner wisdom, and embrace more clarity, fulfillment, and thriving.
#Overthinking #EmotionalProcessing #PersonalGrowth #Performance #performancecoaching