The Coach's Corner

Sometimes I think I think too much

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #42

What do you mean when you say ‘I think too much?’

If you’re like me, it’s most common when you’re ruminating or worrying about something you’re afraid might happen.  Or whether a pitch or proposal you submitted will be rejected. Maybe you’re heading in a direction and you’re convinced you’ll discover it’s a poor choice. And you second-guess every single thing.

I came across Christian French’s song, “Sometimes I think I think too much,” thanks for the brilliant title! He nails how it feels to get stuck in this fog of thinking too much.

Is there a flip side? Do you ever consider that you’re thinking too much when it’s about a great concert you just attended, or a delicious meal you ate or watching your child learn how to walk?

Yeah…didn’t think so.

Amy Morin, LCSW, a psychotherapist and international bestselling author, defines this feeling well.

Overthinking involves thinking about a certain topic or situation excessively, analyzing it for long periods of time. When you overthink, you have a hard time getting your mind to focus on anything else. It becomes consumed by the one thing you are thinking about.

It’s that feeling which stops you in your tracks, brings on self-doubt and creates more comparisons.

What draws you into this negative spiral of thinking? And more importantly, what can you do to break the cycle?

THIS WEEK’S INSIGHT

Sometimes I think I think too much

There is no one reason you overthink or ruminate or worry. Which is why it’s so challenging when you feel like you’re going down that rabbit hole. Wondering if you’ve been overthinking lately? Here’s what you may experience:

·      You second-guess just about any choice you make.

·      You focus on a problem without considering a possible solution.

·      You ruminate about something that’s happened or is going to happen.

·      You give yourself so many options it’s hard to decide anything.

·      You wake up worrying about something that you have to do the next day.

Your emotions are feeding on the thoughts in your head and in those moments you forget you actually have the power to challenge them.

This theme cropped up with three clients this week alone. Here’s a composite of what they brought to our sessions.

I just think too much.

As Gerry went through a list of worries he has been ruminating about he recognized what it was doing to him,

I’m filled with self-doubt, but it’s weird. Kind of like a comfort zone. I’m a big ball of blah.

The more he talked, the more he bounced between one thought, moved to the next and found himself on a ledge with yet another negative thought.

These thoughts are robbing me of productive time in meetings! They take moments away from my interactions with my kids when I get home. And they’re waking me up in the middle of the night. I wish I could ignore the thoughts so that my confidence can return and I could trust myself again.

I wondered, with Gerry, about what he’s done to stop the cycle of rumination, overthinking, of thinking too much?

When I challenged myself to learn a new skill in my role. The new task was refreshing. I felt like I was on fresh ground. I stepped outside my comfort zone.

He found a way out this time. So we moved into an exercise that is repeatable, and the more he does it the more he is able to let go of his tendency to overthink.

 

THIS WEEK’S TOOL

How to break the cycle of overthinking

When I was introduced to The Work by Byron Katie, I was blown away by the power I had to challenge my thoughts. Understanding this process of inquiry has changed the way I deal with thoughts that threaten to undermine my sense of wellbeing. Do I still get stirred up? Sure. But there is a way to the other side. Now, instead of ruminating for lengthy periods of time, I can move through the discomfort and show up without the pain of worry, overthinking and feeling stuck.

Byron Katie’s premise for her four questions in The Work stems from the moment she realized that when she believed her thoughts she suffered, and when she didn’t believe her thoughts, she didn’t suffer.

So how does this take place?

Write down those thoughts that are causing you to think too much…and put them against the four questions of The Work.

After answering these four questions you get to come up with a ‘turnaround,’ which is a way to experience the opposite of what you believe. So, instead of “No one is listening to me,” it could become, “I’m not listening to my team,” or “I’m not listening to myself.”

The beauty of this practice is that the thoughts you store in your head begin to unravel as you question them. Seriously.


My takeaway

A growth mindset invites you to learn, ask questions, listen and engage.

When I’m in a cycle of thinking too much, I can’t to understand what I might learn from the experience. I stop asking questions. I’m only listening to the voice in my head, which leaves me little room to engage.

By using the four questions from The Work, the time I spend overthinking has been drastically reduced. Harnessing that power to challenge whether a thought is true, acknowledging how it makes me feel and wondering who I’d be without it is life changing.

That’s when I can remember it’s not the situation that’s causing me distress, it’s my thoughts about it. So, I observe my thoughts. If they don’t serve my best interests, I choose to release them. And then I do it again…and again…and again.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

William Shakespeare

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