How to stop overthinking
“See this woman in the parc…That’s me. See that kid laughing and jerking around with his friends…that’s me. See this baby crying, or this girl getting her first kiss from a boy she doesn’t even like…. that’s me. I wanted it all! I wanted the love, the success, the many, the perfect life. I wanted it all! But instead, I’ve got a locked-up heart, and an overdosed mind. Did I ask for this? No! Did I want this? No! The only thing I ever wanted was to me normal! Maybe, the universe will hear my wish someday, and I get to have it all!”
- by edisluve, Nina NN
I wrote this above text a long time ago. When I was at a way different point of life. When I was WISHING to be able to NOT FEEL this certain type of feeling in certain situations. I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to feel so free and thoughtless like other people felt. I was mostly scared of the world, scared of starting to live, and scared of myself. I’d rather stay at home and play an online game, then going to school or visit a social gathering with my family. I lost myself in the virtual world where I felt safe. I found the weirdest excuses for not having to go outside or interact with people. My paradigms where so stuck in my brain that there was no opportunity of changing them.
Paradigm: A certain fixed idea or thought of someone or something that is probably false
Example: “The earth is flat.” A historical misconception that a lot of people had. It was so much fixed to their minds, that they didn’t even think about that it could be false. For them, it became and was true!
I tell you one thing: You probably heard the quote “nobody cares about you. Stop overthinking” in relate to anxiety many times. The thing is, YOU CARE. You are the one, who cares. I cared too.
We don’t grow if we stay inside our comfort zone. If there’s no risk, there’s no story to tell.
This statement is true. BUT ITS NOT THAT EASY. Anxiety is an unconfutable feeling. It makes us do things that make us insecure. Anxiety makes us selfish. I thought everything other people did, any reaction to something, was related to me; and that was something bad. I thought it was always about me!
I chased things, rather than attracting. It’s a circle that never wanted to end. The triggers are even worse. When I gave it a chance, but I just got proved wrong…in the end my anxiety was right.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.”
– Dita von Teese
The goal is not, to get rid of the feeling, or to get to be “normal.” The goal is to live with the feeling first, how to live and cope with triggers and embrace that you think and are different. You won’t turn “normal” all of a sudden. You’ll have to live with the way you are. I will share my experience on dealing with anxiety and how I coped with it. I will share exercises and more with you. Either:
let anxiety and insecurity consume you
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
– Charles R. Swindoll
How did my anxiety feel like?
– wearing a jacket even when it’s warm because I felt “exposed”.
– Avoiding saying hello to someone even though I know them
– Not wanting to leave the house
– Choosing to sit in corners to feel less “exposed”.
– Thinking that people are talking and laughing about me, When they’re not.
– Making myself think that people dislike me
– Cancelling plans, because when I said yes, I was still feeling okay
– Doing weird things such as not letting go of certain objects to feel protected
– Not doing something like throwing away an apple so you don’t have to walk over to the trashcan alone
– Feeling emotionally drained after spending time at social gatherings
– Not enjoying things other people your age enjoys
– Life becoming a big “I don’t know”
– Putting a stack of pillows and books Infront of the door at night of fear that someone might come in
The most horrible part of all, was that I knew. I knew every single detail that caused me distress. Still, I’d rather sit in the comfort of protection by not throwing myself out there. What was I so scared of? What are YOU so scared of? I always thought that it wasn’t me, it was the world that was breaking me. But that was never true. A little lecture:
Anxiety isn’t caused by your environment. Anxiety is when you get a sudden thought or feeling, and you interpret it the wrong way. The moment you think this impulse is true, your anxiety increases. You create a paradigm inside your brain about this certain wrong interpretation you are having and stick to it. You often can’t keep a thought coming from anxiety from a normal thought or feeling. It’s so much part of your daily life that you don’t notice. The first step is noticing, then taking control, and then changing your way of thinking by tricking your brain. No quote or therapist will help you with that. You are the only one who can take ACTION and change the way you deal with anxiety.
Reminder: ALLWAYS BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE TRIYING.
I have to say even in the present day I still feel anxious sometimes. I was at a small concert with my grand-parents two days ago, and I couldn’t bring myself to dive deeper into the crowd. I stayed on the side to have a view over everything. To have control. Or me right now, constantly checking my email inbox too see if I finally got a message back, even though not even a day has passed. I am telling you this, because I want you to know that it takes time. Anxiety never fully goes away, you can only learn to live with it, until you forget it!
ANXIETY AND INSECURITY ARNT A WEAKNESS. THEY ARE JUST SIGNS THAT YOU GOT CAUTIOUS OVER TIME DUE TO YOUR PAST.
FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR NOT KNOWING BETTER UNTIL YOU KNEW BETTER.
I remember me. The one who nearly fainted from simply walking along the school hallway. The one who stopped going to school because of it. The one who only went outside if their where forced to; and if, only with a thick jacket and hat. The one who was so scared of getting back into life, that I gradualy pulled myself out of it, making it harder and harder to come back. Why was this??? What caused this? What paradigms did I have that made me do this?
- I don’t know how to speak to people
- I don’t know how to interact with or around people
- People don’t like me and find me weird
- They will break me if I let down my wall
I suppose these where my 4 main paradigms I had. I thought they were true. I made them my whole persona.
I remember the month where I received therapeutic help for the first time. My parents had fought so so hard to get me a spot at the clinic day-care. At that time, I haven’t visited school in 8 months, and wasn’t outside since long. When I arrived, I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t put down my mask to eat, because I didn’t want anyone to see my face. The whole day I would sit in a separate room, listen to music and cry. My therapist I got didn’t understand me. They all just thought I was a stubborn child who didn’t want help. I wanted help. It was just hard for me taking the final step of using it. My medicine was always time. After a week of being there, and still not having anyone to talk to; still hiding myself in that single room nobody could see me in and writing sad quotes; I told them I wanted to quit. My parents were devastated. It was probably just one of plenty different other calls, for help and attention. The truth was, that clinic-day care was to little help to me. I needed more. All I could think about for the week was how happy I was to finally leave, because they weren’t helping me anyway. Then, I met my friend, Y. We had the same problems, and we could talk about them with another. She had something special. Something, that made me give her a chance. I remember going outside with her to the big swing Infront of the psychiatry, and starting to make the swing, swing. Yes, in that moment, in my back-mind was that I was scared that someone would come by and not find me pretty or find two teens on the swing childish. But I also remember staring at the sky and thinking how beautiful the clouds where.
When they told me, I could leave, I didn’t feel the relief I thought I would feel. I didn’t know what was in front of my life. I was walking hand in hand with my parents to the car, when I changed my mind. “I want to stay here”, I probably said. My parents then quickly pulled out their phones and tried to call my therapist or write her an email. To my luck, it worked. I was welcomed back. This time, I would make progress. For the first time I put of my mask while the others were eating. I didn’t eat anything, but I put it off. I didn’t skip school and went downstairs with the others, to participate in my lessons. Now it was Y’s and my daily routine to go outside with two blankets, lay down Infront of the clinic on the grass and talk with another. For long I didn’t have such funny talks. We talked about allot of things we probably where too young to know about already. Thus, it made me nearly forget my intrusive thoughts. I still pulled in my tummy when a group passed by or sat down neatly when I saw someone approaching. But I could laugh with her, without forcing it. It probably was one of my best summers. Even though I wanted to leave for a second time, and then really left…I had made a huge mental process. Yes, afterwards I feel into another big hole but neither less, I started to know what It meant taking action, and really wanted to work on myself. I want you to learn this too!
What helped me overcome anxiety and can help you too?
Work Step 1: Acceptance
Stop triying for a moment…just breathe! There is a reason it is, the way It is. And that’s okay. Sort yourself new, and try to invision yourself sitting right next to you. What do you want to tell yourself? Don’t think about the future, don’t think about the past. Stay calm, and relax for once. You have been triying for way to long! Its time to relax and sort yourself out new! Go take a warm bath, or watch a movie. Be able to forget your problems for once and just be okay with having them pushed away.
Are you ready now? I have a task for you.
- Take a piece of paper, set your phone timer on 10min and start writing. If writing isn’t for you record yourself talking. Write or talk about anything. How you feel, what you think and your view on the world. Let your own hand or voice guide you.
- When you are finished, stand up and throw yourself onto your bed! If you want to you can scream. Rip a piece of paper in half, or box onto a cussion. Then after you are done, hug yourself very, very tightly. Hold yourself and admit to the child inside of you. Tell it that it will be okay.
- Go back to your piece of writing or recording, and look at it. It is probably all over the place. Read through everything carefully, and make side notes.
- Take a second piece of paper, and now structure out everything. Write it down neatly in an understandable, and structured way.
This is a exercise, to help you unclutter your brain. ( Don’t tell anyone I just invented it). If it doesn’t work try it again after a few days, until you feel reliefed afterwards. Try to feel like you have atleast have one thing under control. If it still doesn’t help,
- clean up the mess in your room;
- clean up your social media
- make yourself a structred daily routine.
In this I don’t want you to implement new things such as 1h long workouts; instead just write down what you do daily anyways, just with an essence to structure.
Instead of scrolling on social media:
- make yourself a cup of tea and watch an old movie.
For example “Call me by your name”, or “pride and predgudice.” (both my favorite). Or start an inspirational series. Like “Little fires everywhere”, or “the queens gambit”. (also my favorite)
- Do research to what you have watched afterwards. Watch related edits, and tiktoks to it.
Distract yourself with something fun and soul-caring, while not caring about the outside world for once.
Work Step 2: Confrontational change
Anything you do, anything you want to become; You can’t achieve if you don’t confront yourself with it. It’s okay to push feelings away for a while. But at some point, you’ll have to deal with them, to understand them.
If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.
– Vincent van Gogh
Important Notice: Take these Tasks step by step and in order. There is a reason for it being written this way. Don’t start with the most hardest task, if you haven’t jet started with the easiest task!
1. Outwork yourself:
By this I mean that you must analyse the things, you do every day anyway. DO them, but this time with focus and mindfulness! Dive deep into your inner core of the life you are living, and do every step you take, more mindful. Write your daily structure down you do anyway. But when you do it, stay mindful. Don’t question it…feel it. Try to really mindfully practice your daily structure with love, and acceptance. By this I mean that you do your basic tasks, just don’t treat them like basic tasks. Think about what you are doing and stop doing it automatically. Try this for a few weeks before you move on. Even if it sounds bizarre, it’s the most important step due to the way you’ll brain will start taking in things. Take notice!
2. Outrun yourself:
Trick your brain by taking action at a time where it isn’t fully aware of its current state it is in jet. I mean following:
- start planning and take action in the morning rather than in the evening.
- Have one night a week where you stay up all night, planning and writing down the things you want to do.
When you have an impulsive thought in a happy moment; for example, taking a break outside…rush outside as fast as you can before the back-handed thoughts cut in. The moment you will be outside for a bit they will, but at least you were outside. Now don’t force to much on yourself by staying outside if you really feel unconfutable. But if the feeling is manageable, force yourself to first go back inside when you were outside for 5min and embraced the unconfutable feeling.
This way your brain will be fresh and motivated to do something for itself without having to many back thoughts.
Start shaking up your routine. Dont destroy it, just change it. Quit doing the things that make you feel comftable, instead, replace them with something uncomftable. Here apply the 9-4 Rule. (yes, I just invented this.) If you have 9 things on your daily-routine list, change 4 things to something that makes you feel uncomftable. Place them next to/after eachother. Let the uncomftable causing habits decrease within each step. For me, such plan would look like this during online school times:
(Notice: I had an excuse from school so for me I could choose when I wanted to particapte in calls or not.)
- shower and brush teeth
- clean room
studyinstead participate in a face to face call with your teacher lunch break insideinstead lunch break outside (garden or balcony) studyinstead participate in an online class over zoom watch a movie with familyinstead go to the cinema with your family
- make yourself ready for bed
Repeat the structure you made for 2 days each week. For example Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then 3 days each week. Then 3 days each week after another without a day break inbetween. Only scale up when you feel ready and solid. Stay put like this for the next couple of months. Important is, that you choose 2 categories that you find difficult that you want to work on, that are implemented in your daily routine anyway. For me these where:
- beeing outside and around strangers
- showing myself on camera/speaking on camera
For the first few weeks it isnt about doing everything right. You are allowed to skip days if you dont feel like doing it. You can start slow by only 1 day a week. You dont have to put in allot of effort right away. You still have your own basic needs, and its hard to change thoose. For example:
- if you have your lunch break outside, you dont have to eat your full meal there. Just go onto the balcony, sit there for a few min and move inside again.
- Switch of your camera for the first couple of tries while participating in online class. If you want to, you can even keep it switched on, thus tape something infront of your face on-screen so you cant see yourself. This is a hard one because it not only makes us not have control over the way we look; thus we cant judge ourselves too.
- When you for example go to the cinema with your family, put on a big jacket, a bag and a hat so you have the illusion of feeling protected allittle bit. This way you trick your brain. Watch a movie that you know not many people will be in the room with you, and leave before the movie is actually over so you dont have to go outside with a crowd.
3. Outsmart yourself:
Out of the 45% of Americans that make New Year goals, only 8% are successful.
You have now come this far. You can do things that you couldn’t do a while ago. Now How do we trick our brain into reaching our main goal: hardcore confrontation.
- Reward it
- change in attention
Reward it: Get into the state of mind that you only do things, when you get something for, or out of it. Now write down things you want to have. And I don’t mean things like:
- I will get a good bath
- I will eat something healthy
No…those things are all nice and good, but:
- They are temporary…
- You can do them anytime…
- It’s not really a great reward that truly benefits your phase “state of mind” (bad voice/insecure voice) you are in…
By reward I mean things that:
- Your anxiety/inner voice finds appealing
- something that is normally unreachable
- it is only related to the situation you are in and the thing you want to overcome/achieve
These kind of rewards could be these examples if the situation would be; you having to go to the grocery store alone:
- Buying yourself sweets and deco from your parents money for a comftable harry potter movie marathon
- Keeping 10 bucks of the money to advertise your online business, or pay for something in an online game you are addicted too
These reward are “old” rewards. This means that they focus on your bad habits and paradigms, and maybe even supports them. This way you are tricking your brain into thinking it will get back to its normal, known state of mind when you do something uncomftable. But be aware: This can also backlash. So use this method wisely, and only on big things that are hard for you! If you don’t want to do these kind of rewards, because you are really driven already and are scared of getting back into anxiety, you can also use “new” rewards. These types of rewards would be…
- Spend time with my family for dinner
- Go for a walk
…If you want to reward your new, developing brain paradigms. Its not as affective, but also not as dangerous if you are scared of backlashing into your most worst anxiety paradigms. Just know that like I said; Backlashing is part of the process! But I understand if you are still scared. Its human. Try around and do it your way. Stick to that what works. I for my part developed a new paradigm through it: “I only can give, when I get!” This is hard to break through, but atleast my anxiety has gotten less and I can go through situations with less uncomftablitly.
Change in attention: There are many ways how you can gradually focus on something different, inside the difficult situation.The main ones are:
before you continue on reading, I want you to get out a new small notebook. This will be your notebook youll have with you all the time. Its your “skill” for hard situations.
Now write down following:
You am totally fine. Your mind is running, but your body is still in place. You still have control. Its only in your mind. I am with you, your past-self. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where am I? (Inside or outside? Which type of location? What is the address if I know?)
- What do I feel?
- What is the cause of that feeling? (Why do I feel this way?)
- Is it just my brain, or am I in true danger?
If you can’t handle the situation at all, do following:
remove yourself from the scene. Go into another room or climb into the next coming train. When you are safe, implement the 54321 rule.
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Imagine a clear bubble around you. Nobody can come near now!
Now call someone, anyone that could help you.
If you want to confront yourself even more, do the following:
- Focus on the actual reason why you are at the place you are at
- continue doing that, what you where supposed to do or where you wanted to go
- repeat: “its just inside of my brain” as long as you want, while going through the situation.
Congratulations, Im proud of you!
Now take this booklet anywhere you go, any use it at any time needed.
Step 4: Time
“I am a just a person with allot of time. Maybe that might seem too little for you, but that’s allot to me. Getting the privilege of being able to spend your day like you want to, made me grow up allot. Just sitting there, doing nothing useful will get you into more anxiety. But doing something with yourself, watching videos on your passion, taking notes, having a structure and healthy routine made me feel independent and strong for the first time. For the first time in life, I am watching out for myself, guiding myself and making the best of it! I only have one chance at this so Ill choose what I do wisely.”
- By Nina N.N
“An animal rewarded for good behaviour will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behaviour.”
– Aziz Gazipura