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Often when we’re caught up in a loop or overthinking, we aren’t aware of it. It seems like the right thing to do, to keep thinking about this thing that’s worrying us. But to break out of the loop, we have to notice we’re in it.
Signs that will point out to you that you’re in a loop: For many people, it’s a rising amount of anxiety or worries, an inability to sleep, and an inability to focus. For others, it might be a desire to lash out at someone or to plan or otherwise get control. The key is just to notice you’re in it.
Once you’ve noticed, the magic trick is to look beyond the thing you think needs to be solved … to the fear underneath. It’s like not looking at the hand the magician is trying to direct your attention to, but to the other hand that is hiding the coin.
Don’t look at the object of your thoughts or the problem you need to solve … but the fear that’s having you want to obsess and overthink. What are you feeling right now, in your body?
Before we let go of the overthinking, we have to be with the feeling of fear that’s in our bodies. Otherwise, it’s like trying to calm a freaked-out child by ignoring them.
What if instead we could be with the fear and relax with it, so it can relax? Can you feel the fear, as sensation, and stay with it? Can you breathe deeply and slowly, so you can slow your heartbeat and relax with the fear? Can you bring curiosity towards it? If it’s challenging, you might think of it as being with your heart.
Ask what your fear could use right now — some compassion, some music, a nice cup of tea, journaling or a walk?
Then ask what’s needed in the situation you’re overthinking — what’s the simplest thing that you could do here, what’s the simplest way you could speak from the heart? Then trust that, breathe, and move to the present moment.
What’s something right in front of you that you could focus on?
It might be the light in the room, nature, or another person. Or it might be answering an email or writing a blog post.
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