Overthinking

Overthinking

One of my big 2019 goals was to go alcohol-free for 80 days.  Tonight marks day #78 and I am so close to slaying what I once considered an impossible goal that I can almost taste the bubbles of prosecco.  While many people would be celebrating and sharing their excitement about this kind of achievement, I am left with old patterns of overthinking and analyzing.  Here’s a little snippet of what these thoughts look like:

Will I have a glass of wine or champagne on Day #80?

What if alcohol-free is my new normal?

I have never camped without a cocktail around the fire…. What about the backyard BBQ’s, brewpub stops in eclectic rural California towns, and our upcoming trip to the Southwest?

It doesn’t just revolve around alcohol either…

Why didn’t friend A call me back?

What did I do to offend her?

Should I eat the apple pie? How many calories will I be consuming? 

Should I pack my running trail sneakers or hiking boots on our trip?

What the heck am I doing with this Personal Training Certification?

When am I going to get this mountain of to-do’s done?

Should I get my oil changed tomorrow or Friday?

What is the next step of my business?

Why is the news is so depressing?

How can I help more people?

How can I stop OVERTHINKING?

As a Life Coach, I help people get out of their head, stop overthinking and take action.  While I LOVE helping my clients navigate through this process and have the tools in my arsenal to coach myself through these moments, there are times when I spiral back into the mode of overthinking and feel like there are way too many tabs open in my head.  This is a place where I dwell in worry and replay the what-ifs and endless outcomes like a never-ending film reel of my life.  From getting angry at myself because I am mad, to what I said during a conversation, why didn’t they respond to a text, what to pack, what to do when my kids aren’t listening, what to wear, eat, read, tackle first, whether to spend the money or do it myself.  These thoughts create feelings of overwhelm, paralysis and perpetuate more of what I don’t want!

This was me most days.  I was incapable of making small decisions and ended up procrastinating and leaving so many things undone.  I spent so much time thinking instead of taking action.  To me – that is a horrible feeling.  Always starting, never finishing.  Or contrary, never starting because I analyzed every possible outcome to the point it was easier not to decide.  Then the ultimate question, what are people going to think about action xyz? Talk about an energy sink!  I was always worried about not having enough time, the outcome, or the worst…not living up to my expectation.  No wonder I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

Every thought I have requires an expenditure of mental energy.  If I’m in a torrential river of thought, I find it helpful to just stop and recognize I am in overdrive.  Especially when these negative thoughts are producing worry and the what ifs.  In this state, I am not present; rather I am irritable and quite frankly not bringing anything positive to myself or the people around me.  So I think about what do I need right now? Do I need to take action? Do I need to do a thought download? Do I need to change the scenery?  Get outside?  I know everything will get done.  It will be okay.  I got this and need to enjoy the ride because this is usually where the magic happens.  Let go and embrace the possibility!

If I am still in overthinking mode, I do a brain dump or thought download.  It’s a great way to get out of my head and put those thoughts onto paper.  Let it flow.  Pen to paper signals the brain to let go of those thoughts.

Another tool I practice is snap decision making.  It requires a quick decision to take action.  This could be as simple as changing tasks, stepping outside, calling a friend, making a list, a cup of tea, going for a walk/run, deciding (once on) what to wear, making that delicious meal you made last week (again), or walking away from the cookies.   Practice making decisions on the minutia and you will eventually slow down or stop the overthinking.  Here’s the golden nugget – even if you make the wrong decision, SO WHAT?!  You will know better for next time and not even think twice about it.  Plus, as a bonus, you are building confidence by practicing something that is more challenging to do.  The easy road is to stay where you are at… it’s your choice!  Stay stuck in the overthinking loop or take the risk and make the decision.

So here I am making the decision to let day 80 happen.  No more thoughts about it.  I am closing all of the tabs in my brain and letting it be.  I am choosing ahead of time not to overthink it and let the universe and my intuition guide me.