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Ep #121: Stop Overthinking | Becoming You Again Podcast

Do you ever find yourself caught in a loop of overthinking? It can be a real challenge, especially when navigating the emotional turmoil of divorce. Join me as we delve into this issue, unearthing not just the causes but also practical strategies to overcome overthinking. We will explore the three types of overthinking - worrying, rumination, and cognitive distortions, and how they can heighten negative emotions and anxiety.

If you're battling with overthinking, tune in to discover how you can make deeper, more lasting changes and embark on a journey to Becoming You Again!

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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it show up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

  2. Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.

  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

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Full Episode Transcript:

You're probably here because you're going through a divorce, and let me tell you you're in the right place. This is the podcast for you, and I am so glad that you're here listening, because what it means is you are ready to think about yourself and your needs first and foremost. So welcome to Becoming you Again. This is episode 121, and I'm your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome to Becoming you Again, the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life, so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome back to the podcast. My lovely ladies, I am so happy that you're here. What have you been doing for yourself lately? Have you been doing anything to provide any kind of self-care, self-love, self-support in whatever that looks like for you in moments? I do have to say that I had the best experience a couple of weeks ago. My daughter has been going to this woman in Salt Lake City which is about a half an hour away from where I live who cuts her hair and she cuts all different types of hair, but she does specialize in curly hair, naturally curly hair, which, if you have seen my picture or you know anything about me, I have naturally curly hair. My daughter also has naturally curly hair and she has gone to this woman several times and has just raved about how amazing she is, and every time she comes home or I'll see her after she gets a haircut I'm always just like, oh my gosh, your hair is so cute. I'm definitely going to this woman, and so we were going to go together before she went to Germany and that did not happen. I did not put it on my schedule and so it just things got away from us. So she went by herself and I was like, okay, I'm definitely making time for this for me because I am worth it. I am worth having a haircut that I love and that makes me feel amazing. And so I scheduled my appointment, went down. My son wanted to come hang out with me. He actually had gone to her a few weeks earlier to have her cut his hair. His hair is actually not curly, which is really funny. His hair is pretty straight, but that's kind of like beside the point. But I scheduled my appointment, went in and I am telling you, if you have naturally curly hair straight, you are love basta. Give it a go and you do not get your haircut by someone who knows how to or specializes in cutting curly hair Specifically. You need to do this, find someone, because I am 45 years old and this is the first time I felt like someone understood my hair and cut my hair according to my curls, and it is the best haircut I have ever had. I have loved it ever since I got it cut. I loved the experience. She taught me exactly what to do, how to style it with or without a diffuser. I actually don't even own a diffuser, it's just too much time. It's too much time for me. But she taught me different techniques, different products to use, the different types of towels, microfiber t-shirts, all of that kind of stuff which I already kind of knew but hadn't really been like stepping into and owning. But ever since I got my haircut, I've been using all of the techniques that she told me to use and I love my hair every single day, every single day. To me it looks amazing and I'm just in love with this experience and I'm like I'm 45 and it is never too late to treat yourself the way you were supposed to be treated. I love my haircut and I will forever go to this woman. Her salon is called the Curl Lab, so if you are in Salt Lake area and you have curly hair or just whatever kind of hair, go there. She's amazing. Alicia, oh my gosh, I can't give you enough shout outs about how grateful I am for loving hair enough to learn how to take care of all different types. I'm so thankful for that and I am so grateful and proud of myself for making time for me and really allowing myself this kind of self-care. That makes me feel really good. Every time I look in the mirror, I'm like, oh my gosh, my hair is amazing. I love my hair Like. I never used to do that. There was like two days during the month probably because of hormones or something, when I would look in the mirror and I'd be like, wow, my hair looks really amazing. Today Now, it's literally every single day. I'm like, oh my gosh, my hair looks so great. And maybe that sounds braggy, but it's okay. I can brag about liking my hair and you are allowed to like the way you look as well. So if there's something that you have been lacking, that you've been really wanting to do for yourself, I say treat yourself as they say on Parks and Rec. Treat yourself Okay, please do it just for you. All right, that was a tangent. Let's dive in to today's episode, where I'm going to be talking about overthinking. This is a pretty common occurrence that I hear all the time from divorcing women, and it's this problem of overthinking. I know I specifically have experienced this, especially when I was going through my divorce. If I had an argument with my soon-to-be ex or if there was something that we disagreed on, I would just spin and spin and spin in my head. Right, we've all had this experience, and I've had so many women tell me they are overthinking and it's affecting their sleep patterns. They either can't fall asleep or they wake up in the middle of the night and their mind is just spinning in those thoughts. And thinking in general obviously isn't a problem, right? This is a function of being a human. We want to use our brains. They are amazing and incredible. We are able to think and reason and problem solve and make decisions and all of the things Be creative, all of these things. Thinking can become a problem, though, when it is causing distress to your nervous system, when your negative emotions are increasing and when you feel high levels of anxiety, sadness, worry, overwhelm, stress. That is not useful, and when this kind of thinking actually doesn't lead to problem solving, but instead kind of becomes more of a problem and it doesn't really lead to any kind of solution or any kind of taking action. And so the information that I'm going to be talking about today about overthinking is from my own experience, the experience that I've had with clients of mine, and from the book Overcoming Overthinking by Heidi Sturmaus. Here are some signs of overthinking, so that you can kind of tell when you're overthinking and when maybe you're just like in a phase of working things out to get to that place of problem solving, because maybe sometimes it takes a minute right. But here's how you can kind of distinguish between those two situations. You may be overthinking when you are constantly second guessing your decisions, when you might be reliving moments over and over and over in your mind, and this could be because you're embarrassed about a situation, something that happened, and you just keep replaying the embarrassment. That's that exact thing that happened. I had a car accident a couple of years ago and I just remember like replaying the accident and trying to figure out a solution of how I could have, like, made that accident not happen. I was like stuck in this overthinking loop. You might be overthinking if you are obsessing over what someone else has said or what someone else did and you just can't get it out of your head. You keep replaying it over and over and over again. And another sign that you may be stuck in overthinking is when you are constantly looking at pros and cons of a situation but then you never come to a conclusion or a decision of like what to do right Of which side to choose. You just keep going back and forth about each side and nothing ever really seems to be solved. I know I have experienced literally all of these situations and I would venture to guess that the majority of you have at least experienced one or possibly several types of overthinking. So I want to dive a little deeper so that we can get a better understanding around why we overthink, and then I'm going to give you a couple of tips at the end of the podcast to help you if you are struggling with this. So in Heidi's book she lays out three different types of overthinking which I think are going to be really useful to help you break down which ones you might be falling into. So the first type of overthinking is worrying. We all know what worrying feels like and what it is right. Worrying comes up when we have all of those questions of what if? What if this thing happens? What if that thing happens? And we play it out in our head and it's always about some future event or some future situation. Now worrying, as so many of us know, keeps us up at night. Worrying keeps us imagining the most terrible worst case scenario outcomes, and worrying becomes really problematic Because here's what happens we are trying to take this future possible problem that we think is probably going to happen. Right, we've decided this is probably what's going to happen. And then, because our brain is very good at problem solving, we are trying to problem solve and find a solution to something that hasn't even happened yet. And so it's like we're trying to solve a 500 piece puzzle and all we have are 10 pieces and we just keep trying to put these 10 pieces in and going why isn't the puzzle solved? Why isn't the puzzle finished? Because we don't have all the pieces and our brain cannot comprehend how to fix this problem without knowing all of the information, and it becomes very infuriating. The next type of overthinking is rumination. Now, rumination is a little bit different than worrying in that you just keep thinking the same thing over and over and over again and and listen to this, and okay, it is usually combined with feelings of sadness, anger or overwhelm, and so rumination rarely leads to any kind of problem solving, and instead it actually usually makes the problem seem bigger or worse than it actually is. And the thing with rumination is it often will bring on distorted types of thinking, so it can lead to self hate. It can lead to mean self talk. It also can lead to this game where we play the blame game and everything is the fault of everyone else, which very often makes us feel resentful. It makes us feel helpless because we need that person to change what they're doing in order for us to feel better, which very rarely ever happens, right. And you might even begin to believe, if you stick in rumination, that there is no solution and nothing can be done, which is never the case. There's usually, almost always, something that you can do, a different way of looking at things, something that you can do to help yourself get out of the situation some way to solve the problem, even if it's a tiny solve Okay. And the last type of overthinking is cognitive distortions. And this is when we believe the story that we have made up about why something is happening or why someone may be acting a certain way toward us. And the problem with cognitive distortions is that it keeps us from being able to be neutral when evaluating what's actually going on on. It keeps us in a heightened emotional state, and then we make decisions from heightened emotional states which are almost always not in our best interest. And so, for example, let's say you're at a party and someone says hi, but then they don't really talk to you the rest of the night and you're just kind of focused on that. And so when you're overthinking and you're in a cognitive distortion, overthinking pattern, you'll tell yourself something like well, the reason that they didn't talk to me the rest of the night was because they think I'm boring or they think I'm stupid and they just can't stand to be even around me. And so we'll tell ourselves these negative, terrible things that are usually about ourselves. Right, and it's some made up story. They haven't actually said those things they didn't actually even like, act maybe in that way. And yet we have just decided this is what's happening. And then we just think about it over and over and over, about how terrible the situation is, how terrible we are, how terrible they are, and we begin to, and we begin to believe this story. And so why do we do this as humans? Why do we overthink? Why is it that our brains are predisposed to do this? And there's two main reasons why, and, honestly, they're both attached to our emotions, which doesn't actually surprise me, because almost everything that we do is attached to our emotions. Right, we just have to start paying attention to it so that we can get a better grip on it. But here's what's really fascinating to me about overthinking Overthinking is a habit and it's rooted in our emotional response to things. So the first emotional response that overwhelmingly creates the habit of overthinking is fear. Now, fear. I've talked about this many, many times before on the podcast, but fear is hardwired into our DNA, right? It is a survival response. This has been useful to humans since the beginning of time, since the very first humans walked on Earth. Fear response is what protected them, kept them safe and instinctively got them out of bad situations, kept them alive. The first, humans were constantly scanning their surroundings for clues about what might be a threat, and then, from learning and watching and understanding, they learn to automatically respond to a situation. When that fear response kicks in, that is when our amygdala is taking over, and this fear response has been passed down to us through our DNA even to this day. It is a very important part of our body and our emotional response. It is not a bad thing. We learn very quickly that if something is to be feared, that if, like, let's just say, you reach out and touch something hot, we instinctively pull our hand away to protect ourselves from getting burnt right. We literally don't even have to think about it. Our body reacts to the fear signals that our brain has sent out, and so, as I said, fear is very useful in many situations. The problem is that, because we are humans and because we have been evolving over time, we have developed our prefrontal cortex. Now, that's not the problem, that's a great thing. Our prefrontal cortex is amazing because it is the part of our brain that gives us reasoning and decision-making and planning, and it is an amazing part of our brain. However, it's often responding to the situations in our lives in a very complex way and it needs accurate information and some kind of predictability. And it's always like taking in information and using all the things that make us up, all the things that we have experienced, all the things that we believe to be true, and it's deciding on what to make, how to make meaning out of these things. But because we haven't trained our bodies to understand negative emotion, we start to fear those feelings and then our prefrontal cortex doesn't have all of the accurate information when we're afraid of feeling negative emotion and it starts to make up stories and overthink as a process to remedy the bad negative feeling, to get away from the bad negative feeling. For example, when you feel an uncomfortable feeling like sadness or anger, overwhelm, it's very common to want to get away from feeling that immediately. And if you haven't learned to just open yourself up and allow those emotions to be there, to be present, then your brain is going to go into this overthinking process in order to remedy feeling that way any longer. And when this happens, this is usually when the other emotional response of overthinking will kick in and that's when anxiety shows up. We have this situation that is maybe kind of ambiguous, like we just don't have all of the information. We think we need to problem solve or we need to fix the situation, or we're thinking about these future scenarios where we don't have all of the information, or we're making up stories in our heads and because of that we are generating all of this anxiety inside of our bodies, because we're trying to predict the future and we're spinning in these stories of fear and worry and we're trying to fill in the blanks about things that we can't possibly feel in the blanks about. And the more we do this, the more of a habit it becomes and the more anxiety we feel. Now do not get me wrong here. I am not saying that anxiety is a habit and that we just need to learn to stop overthinking. No, I definitely think and agree that having a chemical or a hormonal imbalance or even a predisposition, like a DNA predisposition to anxiety is real. Clinical anxiety is a real thing and it often needs much more support than just working on a habit of overthinking or paying attention to your thoughts or learning how to open up to your emotions, like those things are great, but I don't think that's always the answer and I think, whether it's therapy or help of a psychiatrist, medications or any other form of treatment, that is real and important and can be very useful and helpful. So don't take this to mean that I think that anxiety is just like all in your head and you can think your way out of it. I don't think that and I also think that for some of us, we are creating a lot of anxiety for ourselves because we have this habit of overthinking. And I think that we can lessen the amount of anxiety that we feel by learning to change the habit of overthinking. And I think this is the most useful for people who do not have clinical anxiety. For someone who might just be going through a divorce, who has not been diagnosed with clinical anxiety or clinical depression and who is just having a heightened sense of emotional response. This could be very useful. If that is not the case for you, talk to your therapist, talk to your psychiatrist and see what other help you can get. But when we begin to feel anxiety in these other situations and we're trying to solve, for some unknown, an easy way to distract ourselves from feeling that anxiety, is actually to go into overthinking, which is kind of funny because for a moment it feels really useful and good to overthink about it because we think that we're going to find some kind of solution. But when we do that, what happens is we reinforce to our brain that we're momentarily going to feel good and we're momentarily. We momentarily have this idea that a solution is coming and that takes away that feeling of anxiety for even just a moment. But it's only for a moment, because what overthinking actually ends up doing is exacerbating the fear and exacerbating the anxiety. And so, instead of making us feel empowered and useful or authoritative in our own lives and a problem solver, what we instead continue to feel is helpless, powerless, defeated. So if you recognize that you fall into this problem of overthinking and you want to try and do something about it, try and help yourself if possible. And if these ideas kind of resonate with you, what can you do? Right, like that's like the next question Well, what can I do about this overthinking? And first and I think maybe this is the most helpful thing that I can tell you is you cannot believe every thought that your brain tells you. Your brain is making up stories about things literally all the time, and it's because we have there's so much information, and it gets so much information from so many different sources all throughout your entire life, and so your brain is just taking all of that and trying to make meaning out of things in whatever way it can. And not all of that meaning is true. Your brain is telling you things that are dumb sometimes, or that are literally the worst, or that are not good for you. Or your brain is telling you that you are dumb or that you are no good, or that you can't figure it out, or that it's too hard, or, like I'm telling you, your brain lies to you sometimes and you have to be on to your brain. You really do. You have to be willing to pay attention to the thoughts and not believe every single thing that your brain spits out at you. And I know this because of the many, many clients that I have worked with over the years, because of the trainings that I have done, but also because of my own experience. I have to learn what I'm going to believe and what I'm just going to let pass by when my brain spits out thoughts. Thoughts are not necessarily truth, and that is why the most useful thing is to realize that not everything your brain is telling you is the truth, and you don't have to believe everything that your brain is telling you. You can just start to notice thoughts without reacting to them or believing them. Noticing your thoughts is going to go a long way I'm telling you such a long way in helping you begin to break the habit of overthinking. And the next thing that is going to be really helpful in learning to stop overthinking is to open yourself up to feeling negative emotion and allowing it to be present in your body, because overthinking is a type of avoidance. You are avoiding the fear. You're avoiding the anxiety, the sadness, the overwhelm or whatever else you might be feeling. And so, instead of avoiding by overthinking, I just want you to try opening up to the emotions. You can learn to open up to yourself. You can learn to ground yourself. You can learn different grounding techniques. There's so many different grounding techniques that can help realign your nervous system. That will help you allow those negative emotions to just be inside of you. They're not scary once you learn to open up to them, I promise you. It seems scary, but the more you practice it, the better you get and the easier it is, and you can learn to open yourself up to those and start processing through them, and then the overthinking becomes less of a habit and you can kind of stop yourself in your tracks when you start to notice you're in that overthinking trap. So that is what I have for you today. If you found this podcast episode helpful, feel free to share it with a friend who could maybe benefit from hearing these things. Thank you so much for listening. I'm so glad that you're here and I will talk to you next week. Hi, friend, I'm so glad you're here and thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change, then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life, with weekly coaching, real life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to KarinNelsonCoaching dot com. That's wwwKARINNELSONCoaching dot com. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating. Wherever you listen to podcasts and for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.



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