She stopped by unexpectedly to pick up her gaming console and a few other items to take back to her dads.
She stopped on the way to her bedroom and looked at me while I was lying on the couch, a sign that she wanted to talk.
I paused the show, “How are you feeling?” I said.
Shoulder shrug. “Not great. I played terrible today.”
I opened my arms and she sat next to me for a hug.
“How can I help you?”
Another shrug. “I just want to sit here and cry, but I can’t. Dad’s waiting for me in the car.”
She’s can’t make up her mind about whether she should quit. “Is it the right thing to do?” “Will my friends be mad at me? They’re already kinda mad at me.” “I’ve put so much work into making the team. What if I regret it like I did when I quit gymnastics?” This mental tug of war has been going on for weeks, causing her anxiety and a few sleepless nights.
It’s not just about the sport, she’s sixteen and for her this is a pivotal decision that may reshape her life and certainly her high-school career. I don’t argue, try and tell her what to do, or reframe the situation by giving her a pep-talk. After decades of teaching, mentoring, and mothering I’ve learned not to jump in and look at the bright side right away, I’ve learned to just listen.
Whether you’re 16-years old or 60-years old the mechanism that causes the self-torture of overthinking and worrying yourself sick is the same, only the content is different.
This is the state of most humans on the planet; we are tortured by thoughts we cannot stop. We endlessly seek relief by playing out multiple scenarios in our minds (all usually bad), trying to appease the nagging voice in the head by being better or doing better, or medicate the thoughts away. Some of us even try meditation, but that doesn’t eliminate the need to overthink if you believe the thoughts that are swimming through your mind.
But I have a different remedy for overthinking, and it’s so simple, you may not believe me.
Overthinking arises from uncertainty, fear of loss, fear of the consequences, and more importantly it arises from being unable to standup for what you truly want, not what you think you should want.
You overthink issues that you care deeply about and reflect your own personal ideal. So, you’ll overthink issues that have to do with career, love, social status, health, and safety.
Here’s an example, Sally is struggling financially. She is working four jobs, all as an independent contractor which means she pays her own taxes and health insurance. She’s a single parent, and her ex-husband was diagnosed by three therapists as having narcissistic personality disorder. The constant stress of her financial situation, dealing with lawyers, driving her son all over town, meeting deadlines, and then planning dinner for her and her son is exhausting.
Sally is always thinking about how she can make more money. Money, her mind tells her, is the answer. Unfortunately, her mind also tells her that making money isn’t so easy, she needs flexibility, it’s not so easy finding a new job, her boss needs her, and so on. The mental strain from constantly overthinking her situation is debilitating.
However, the truth is that Sally knows what decisions and actions she must take to get the most relief and make more money. For example, one of her jobs takes up the most time and makes her the least amount of money. She could quit that job giving her more time to pick up a few more hours at another job that pays her more. Doing this would give her more time and more money. There are several other solutions as well. Again, Sally knows this, the problem is that she is too afraid to follow through, and instead overthinks the situation thus creating a toxic and painful mental environment for herself on top of an already challenging situation.
Every earthly problem has a spiritual solution and Life is always working in your favor.
Overthinking is your minds way of telling you that it’s time to take inspired action, but you’ve likely developed a high tolerance for mental anguish, and so you are ignoring what you know you need to do. Like Sally, you’re stuck in a toxic mental environment that only visions for you more negative outcomes.
To get out of this loop you will need to spend 5 minutes doing this simple meditation and spiritual thought experiment.
1. Don’t worry that you’re thinking during the meditation, what you’re looking for is a slight reduction in your blood pressure and a feeling of openness).
a. Lie on your back on the floor.
b. Tilt your head slightly down so that you can feel the entire length of the spine along the floor.
c. Place your hands on your belly.
d. Relax your forehead, close your eyes, open your mouth and move your jaw around a few times to release any tension in the jaw.
e. Now, inhale deeply so that your hands and belly rise, and exhale deeply and imagine your belly button moving the spine. Do this five times.
f. Then, stop the deep breathing and count your inhales backwards from 10 to 1. That should be about 5 minutes total.
g. Now that you’re calm, ask yourself, “If I knew exactly what I should do, what would it be?” and allow the answer to come. The first thing is right. Don’t question the answer. Just receive it.
h. Or you can ask the Universe, “What is the best course of action?” Then wait.
You will get the answers, but the real question is do you have the courage and confidence to follow through on your own heart’s desires and the advice from the Universe.
“God wants you to be what you want to be. In your quiet thinking select your future, accept it as normal for you, and then expect it to happen. Give thanks that the ways and means to bring it to pass are already in action,” The Science of Successful Living, Dr. Raymond Barker
My daughter happily quit and had a great night’s sleep.
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