There's No Off Switch for Overthinking


Every morning you open your eyes, and before you can consciously take a deep breath, you hear the whole crowd that just woke up with you. They all start talking at the same time. They say things you don’t want to hear, terrifying things about a dangerous future or vague ideas about unimportant topics. If you had a switch button for these thoughts, then you would turn it off right away.

But that button doesn’t exist, and every day becomes a battle to try to conquer at least one minute a day and finally rest your mind. I’m not talking about conscious thinking, of course. When that happens, you make decisions based on reasoning. When what I’m talking about happens, you become a slave of 1,000 witches flying around your head. No matter where you go, they are always with you. You can’t listen to anything other than their strident voices.

Besides overthinking, I also battle with anxiety. So it’s easy for me to believe what those voices say. I remember last year, I spent months visiting doctors here and there. I was sure I had cancer. I used to say to myself, “Well, it’s better to know it officially once and for all than to wait.”

I used to sit in front of the doctor, my hands shaking and my eyes almost tearing up because of the devastating news I was about to receive. Doctors looked at me with sympathy and compassion, “You are fine. It’s nothing serious. Now go home and have a rest. Don’t worry.”

My friend, one of the few I have, used to be patient, “You don’t have cancer now. Maybe in the future, but not now. Stop worrying, if you are always this worried then I’m not going to marry you,” he would joke.

He tried to lighten up my fear with a little bit of truth and a little bit of humor. My mind was not thinking about the situation. It was only feeding the fear with whatever source it found at the moment.

And because of this fear, because of this unstoppable thinking, I can’t focus on anything. I’ve tried relaxation methods. Something inside me warns me about being so quiet, “You are vulnerable, unarmed. Horrible things will happen if your guard is not up!” So I start worrying about whatever my mind catches.

I used to think I must have a big problem because when I would try to think, my mind was blank. I don’t think, I concluded. I know now it’s just all those voices making a lot of noise. I have wondered many times what would it be to walk in life without this monumental fear all the time.

As I said, those of us who overthink don’t have an off button, but here are some suggestions that might help send those voices to sleep once in awhile:

1. Take a moment to be grateful.

What on earth does anxiety have to do with gratitude? Well, when you start noticing all the things you have, something inside of you can find some relief — if only for a moment. I’m not talking about being wealthy or having a nice car. I’m talking about being able to smile even though you’re facing a problem. I’m talking taking the time to enjoy the wind or a sunset. I’m talking about the times you realize no matter how awful a situation in your life or your mind might be, there is always someone who loves you and cares for you.

2. Remember bad things are not a punishment.

know it’s a strong statement, but when you realize life is not against you, it’s easier to relax and open your arms to it. You start living in love. You don’t have to fight with life anymore. You don’t have to ask why because you know there is nothing wrong with you. It’s just life and it’s never against you.

3. Remember you are not alone.

Anxiety makes you think you have to solve all of your problems, and quickly, or it will be too late. The pressure on you is huge. You find yourself locked in a small room running and trying to find the exit. Your head is about to explode and you need a break, a hug and someone to tell you it’s going to be OK. Well, you will.

4. Be patient.

Overthinking just doesn’t stop being. It’s a process, a slow process, and maybe these friends will be with you your whole life. You need to be patient with yourself. Remember every rough time you’re facing is a new opportunity to hug yourself a bit tighter.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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