I don’t know about you, but I know that I can over-think things sometimes.
I find myself compelled in life to try to understand all of our uniqueness as human beings, and the more I learn the more complex it all gets. The more I recognise just how deep our unconscious biases and assumptions go, the more I realise how limited I am in my thinking.
And yet, as I earnestly attempt to expand my thinking, it is both illuminating, and at the same time, plays into the tendency I have to over-think things. The more I see the complexities of everything, the more I realise the damaging limitation of black and white thinking, even though I understand our human appeal to do so as it is far simpler. In the survival times of only needing to work out if someone was a friend or enemy such binary thinking perhaps worked, for that stage of human evolution at least, but I’d like to believe that we exist in a time when we are more consciously attempting to move beyond the limited thinking that needs to be ‘with’ or ‘against’ each other.
It’s not easy to work through our differences, whether that’s within a family, friends, at work, or globally. At times, perhaps we don’t work through our differences, and perhaps we don’t always need to. We live in a world full of individual uniqueness, and yet, at the same time, we all have shared commonalities – we all want to be safe, loved and happy. That’s our common ground. What gets in the way of our common ground is our fears and our woundings. And whilst our fears and woundings can hold us apart, in those too we have common ground.
We all face challenges, individually and collectively. At times, those challenges take us into uncomfortable places within ourselves. It’s at those times that we all lean into our coping strategies, which can be healthy or less so. Often, when we struggle with our thoughts and feelings, we all too easily take the flight approach, whether that be through denial, distraction or avoidance of that which is uncomfortable to think or feel. When we do this, we can pass our discomfort onto others; we become agitated, aggressive, controlling, reactive, manipulative, dismissive, withdrawn….you fill in your own blank. It’s also where our less healthy coping strategies come in – we eat, drink, game, sex or shop our way out of those uncomfortable states…..or do we….those states haven’t really gone anywhere, they’ve just been temporarily suspended until they reappear….and on the cycle goes.
It isn’t loving to deny the reality of that choice and it’s accompanying effects. Often those affects take us into worse states, like putting on weight if we comfort eat, running up debts if we comfort shop, deepening the emotional void after casual sex, losing time and sleep having stayed up all night gaming, or spiralling into irrational thinking and behaviour if we turn to alcohol. We create unnecessary issues in our relationships with others, or we might push people away, repel them or isolate ourselves. It is easy for our coping strategies to add to our discomfort in the longer term, even though it seemingly numbs the discomfort in the short term. It isn’t loving to judge ourselves if we choose these routes though; we’re all doing the best that we can. Sometimes we don’t have it within us to choose anything else.
But self-awareness and self-acceptance can lead to an entirely different trajectory. What about our healthy coping strategies? The strategies that can offer us comfort in both the short and longer term. The strategies that allow those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to move through us. And please, don’t mistake that ‘moving through us’ as a blissful experience that is pain-free. No. It certainly isn’t that. What it is, is being with ourselves in a loving way through those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, rather than numbing out and abandoning ourselves. It’s about comforting, nurturing and nourishing ourselves. It’s about settling our nervous system so that we don’t spiral further into fight or flight reactivity. It’s about having the awkward conversations that address the challenges and look to work towards solutions.
Life is complex. We are complex. Our interdependency is complex. It won’t always feel comfortable. We won’t always know the answers. We won’t always come together. That’s OK. It’s all OK.
I found myself in the space of over-thinking with my attempt at online dating, where my usual grounded approach seemed to disappear at times! Life shows us where we still have work to do….💕🙏🏻😬 When I’ve been triggered into uncomfortable thoughts and feelings in these moments, I know I have a choice. I can open a bottle of wine and spiral into irrational reactivity….or I can breathe, get fully present, meditate, and soothe my nervous system.
I personally find the simplest, most effective thing I can do is simply to ask, ‘what would love do now?’ I don’t always manage to do this, but I know that when I do, without fail, it both comforts me and brings me into alignment with the highest possible potential of both myself and what I bring to life. If I settle my ego enough to drop from my head into my heart, choosing love is the most natural thing to do. It is then that all over-thinking falls away, clarity and peace reside, and the tension drops out of my body, mind and emotions. There is more ease and flow in life, and synchronicity starts to show me that life unfolds in miraculous ways, when I get out of the way.
I find the below ‘Let Go’ breath helpful in quietening down my ego enough to allow myself to drop into my heart….
🧘🏻♀️Inhale through the nose for a count of 4, belly moving outwards away from the spine.
🧘🏻♀️Exhale through the mouth for a count of 6, belly moving towards the spine, whilst mentally saying to myself, ‘let go.’
🧘🏻♀️Repeat for 5 to 10 breaths.
So, for me personally, my healthy strategy for calming my over-thinking mind and regaining clarity and insight is:
Breathe. Walk. Meditate. Ask, ‘what would love do now?’ And then, let go and trust.
How about you?
Whatever is going on for you in life right now, I wish you insight and clarity. Breathe. Stay with yourself, lovingly. Hold yourself accountable for leaning into the loving and healthy coping strategies that support you through life and bring our your highest potential as a human being and as love itself.
Life, in all of it’s complexities always comes down to simplicity of love, or the lack of. Choosing love will always be our calling. 💕