OVER-THINKERS ANONYMOUS

Lulu / 4 Jul, 2019

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimised by over-thinking?

Yup, same.

In fact, as I write this I have just pulled myself out of my own personal mind gym where I was swinging back and forth on the monkey bars with thoughts that are in all honesty not even close to real and even more so, highly unlikely. And even though I know that, or at least have now told myself that, I still couldn’t quite help myself. I woke up with a nagging thought poking at my mind, and before I knew it, I was having an argument with someone entirely in my head. I guess that’s my problem, I overthink like it’s my job. Whether it’s something that is bothering me, a mistake I’ve made, a difficult conversation I should be having, something someone did to me; I will waste no time replaying whatever it is over and over in my mind until I have gone over a thousand scenarios of the potential outcomes or reasons for that thing, or have had just as many conversations with myself or with the person involved in that situation. Most of the time however, I continuously replay moments that have passed. Moments that I no longer have control of and conversations that I can no longer change. This is what eats at me the most. I am in constant need of changing and perfecting every passed situation. Yeah, I know, it’s a fools errand. But, that’s the tea. If it’s not that, it’s the constant worry to be a people pleaser. I’m not proud of this, in fact this is something I have gone great lengths to change and to an extent have succeeded in doing, but it still kind of bothers me a lot what others think, how they perceive me, or how I come across and I often wonder if I said the right thing, or haven’t come out as rude etc etc, and it’s a lot. Then of course it’s just worry, worry about anything. Basically I live by what Murphy said: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and so of course my mind tries to figure everything that could go wrong before it does so that I am prepared or not disappointed. This is also a lot. The worst part about it all is, I’m so convinced of every scenario that has played over in my head (past, present, future) that by the end of it I am no closer to understanding what I was actually worried about in the first place. It’s almost like a self-soothing ritual that rarely soothes me, and so I’m pretty much in a worse off place than where I originally begun. Again, even though I’m fully aware of this, I can’t quite help myself.

So this is me, about 80% of the time:

If this sounds familiar, welcome to over-thinkers anonymous. There’s tea and cake at the back over there, and a handbook you can keep and browse through in your free time which you can find on the table to your left. Feel free to take one for any of your family and friends who weren’t able to make the meeting and tell them, they’re not alone. Seriously though, from my experience with overthinking it can actually feel that way, like it’s a lonely endeavour, like you’re the only one mad enough to care so much about something or someone else, and that everyone else (including anyone directly involved in your conundrum) probably doesn’t spend half as much time dealing with the things your mind can’t seem to let go of. And this is why the majority of us, i.e me, understate it all the time, because to be honest it feels a bit weird to say you’re an over-thinker; to me it’s almost as if you’re admitting that you are a little bit dramatic, a bit too emotional, kind of indecisive and not to be taken seriously. But it’s only because a couple of my friends called me out on it (a bit too many times might I add) that I finally just had to accept it for what it is. Yes, maybe I am a bit too emotional, and I jump the gun a few times, and can be dramatic and worry about things that may never happen, but I realised it’s cause regardless of what is going through my mind (real or perceived) I still feel all the feels. It’s still as real as if it were happening right in front of me — the what ifs are very real, the why’s, also very real, and so of course I’m going to feel something. And you guys know that the one thing I am not, is against people feeling their feelings, so hey if in the end it’s that that I take away from the situation, that I can feel and attempt to try and process those feelings, then maybe it’s not half bad. I will accept the lonely journey of being an over-thinker.

But I ain’t gonna lie, it’s L-O-N-E-L-Y. Although, like I was saying, we definitely are not alone. There are far too many of us who travel the one-way road with nothing but mountains out of mole hills for scenery. People who rehearse every possibility (particularly worst case) in their heads all the time, who endlessly take their thoughts apart and try put them back together again with very little success, who stress when things go wrong and even when things go right, who never want to be caught blindsided by their own feelings or who feel so uncomfortable with uncertainty; and most of all who have underlying fears and insecurities that feed the need to overthink. We are everywhere, hiding in plain sight and it’s actually because I was having a conversation with Gugu the other day in which we were discussing the extent to which a person (read: one of us) may or may not have been overthinking a particular situation, that I thought — yeah, this is definitely something we need support groups for, cause we are struggling.

I was having a session in my mind gym the other day, but very publicly in front a friend — she could see all the cartwheels I was doing, as well as all the sprints around the field I was attempting, and she asked “do you pray about all the things that you are worried about?” and I said “of course I do”, and then she said “like all, all of them?” and I realised what she was getting at. I had actually read it online somewhere too, that believers pray about some things, but worry about all things; and yet, in the bible it actually calls us not to worry about anything, but instead pray about everything. And this being the verse of my year, I have definitely tried to live by this, but if I were to actually think about how much and how far I overthink certain situations, I can safely say I haven’t prayed about everything. As very real as I was claiming the what ifs and the why’s are to me, is the very reason I would need to go to God with them. Otherwise how then am I casting my cares on Him, or how then am I allowing Him to give me rest, when I have a whole sea of worries “hidden” from Him? So when my friend said, like all, all of them — that’s what I heard. She might as well have just said “your worries; whether real or perceived, can’t be real only in your mind. They can’t be real enough to make you think, feel and behave the way you do — to get you in such a state, and simultaneously not be real enough to go to God about.” And she would be very right. The thing is, I half expect the squiggly lines I’ve created in my head to sort of iron themselves out, because even with no evidence to show it, somewhere in the back of my mind I am convinced that if I spend enough time analysing whatever situation it is, I will figure it out.

But I am here in this meeting today because as I’m sure is the case with you too, that has not quite worked out. So naturally I started overthinking how terribly I’m doing the overthinking thing, and then I remembered what my mum once told me, and if there is anything I can leave you with for todays meeting it’s this: it is very important to not allow your own voice to repeat your problems back to you over and over again, even though natural and frankly you can’t help it, the problem becomes that when you do, you have very little space to hear God’s voice and the obvious encouragement, peace and direction He has for you in that particular situation. Because whether you believe it or not, in whatever situation you are facing there is some peace for you, there is a way out and through for you and you can be uplifted. It is not His will that you stay tormented by the past, or by mistakes you can’t fix, or things you can’t control. Neither is it that you remain in perpetual worry and fear, because truth is we can’t think our way out of these things anyway. What we do have, is Gods word, and through His word can He work these things out for us even if just by giving you peace which is a hell of a lot more than we originally had. And this has been my issue, not so much that I overthink, because can’t do much about that, that ship has sailed, but, the moment I do start to overthink, it’s as if I take the reins from God, and say “don’t you worry, I’ll steer this ship. I don’t know where I’m going, but I have some thoughts” and then essentially block God. And so if this also sounds familiar to you too, I just want to say again that you are not alone. Maybe just making the problem someone else’s problem will relieve some of the anxiety. I like the sound of making my problems someone else’s, I can definitely like the sound of that. So try make it Gods problem. Let’s see what He does about it.

Until the next meeting.

2 thoughts on “OVER-THINKERS ANONYMOUS

  1. Quite a deeply challenging post about our ‘thought’ processing – thanks Lulu. I believe many of us certainly need the Dr Caroline Leaf kind of wisdom on these mind/brain issues. It can be quite a struggle to free ourselves from not just overthinking per se, but toxic thoughts in general, and we know how if left unchecked they are often blamed for many illnesses. Am on board with making all our anxious thoughts God’s problem, He certainly knows how to handle all the causes, and give us His peace instead.

  2. Thanks for sharing about this issue. It’s a very real issue that many of us struggle with, even believers. It is not easy to break free of it even once you’re aware that you suffer this plight. I think it’s also a thing of independence – some of us believe our lives are completely our responsibility, and no other person’s or deity. It’s also a protective mechanism – if I can dissect the problem from every which angle, I reduce the chances of further fallout and I can possibly find a good solution, because again, the success of my life is up to me. And perhaps not even arrogantly but rather fearfully because we dare not fail at life – so we do all we can to ensure chances of this are reduced. That we are perfect people; that we order the circumstances of our lives as best as possible – but then we cancel out room for faith to do its work in and for us and for grace to be our everyday salvation.

    This requires accepting our imperfectness & that we need grace: God’s grace and that of man. It requires that we surrender in faith to the things we say we believe about God as depicted in His Word. It requires learning that God being in charge looks very different to us being in charge and that if we let Him, He can amaze us, even though we may walk with Him through the valley of the shadow of death. And it’s a practice to get to here: it’s not miraculous. I’ve found that peace and reprieve from overthinking and needing to find the solution to my every problem by worrying is hard won. I have to be mindful and intentional. When I go into that spiral, I must immediately call myself out for it and start praying the Word & promises that say God has the solution and it shall be according to His boundless love for me at His appointed time. That I’m not forgotten and He knows my name and cares deeply about all things that weigh heavy on my mind and spirit. And as one (or both🤣🤣🤣) of us has been exposed in your piece, I can say that it isn’t easy – it’s a journey with ups and downs. It requires one to be very ‘mind over matter’ about overcoming it; logical/rational and also faith-filled & professing. Sometimes you repeat a scripture you aren’t entirely ‘feeling’ to get past those hellish times of overthinking and you just gotta fake it til you make it🤷🏽‍♀️

    As a believer, you have the imperative and privilege to rest it all on Him…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.