Why didn’t she say hi? my brain kept obsessing over the question. I couldn’t break free of it. After all of the pining, all the wanting, all the heavy emotion, Mynxee had finally reached out to me and said let’s get together for coffee. It was like the weight of the universe had been lifted off of my shoulders, like I could deeply and fully breathe for the first time.
Then I saw her. We passed each other on some random day on some random station. I know it was her. She looked right at me. Our eyes locked. I smiled my confident and charming grin. She looked away and kept on walking.
Had I done something wrong? Did she no longer find me attractive? Had I overstepped? Why didn’t she want me anymore? Was I worthless? I wished I could silence the negative thoughts spiralling out of control in my head.
How had I let myself get to this point where anyone could affect my life with such an impact? That couldn’t be healthy.
She was probably going to cancel getting together for coffee. Some excuse would come up. I had told myself that every day for the last week until there was only one day left before our scheduled meet. And still nothing. For a fleeting moment I allowed myself to believe that maybe everything was going to be ok, but then fear took hold that maybe she had forgotten about our plans, or that I was so insignificant, that she had forgotten about me. Or worse, would simply stand me up and brush me off. I believed I had lost my value to her.
And there was the message on my comm. I had asked her if we were still on for tomorrow. Her reply, several hours later, was “You betcha.” My heart fluttered. What the hell was wrong with me? I wasn’t a teenager. I wasn’t desperate. Yet there I was, literally out of control of myself. Stuck in my head. Overthinking.
We ended up having a delightful time – fun, laughter, real conversation, and those few shared moments were my happiest in a long while. She had been attracted to me originally for the man I was – charming, positive, awesome, confident, a driven leader with clear goals and direction. Why would I think I should change who I was for her? For anyone? Sure, life changes, and people come into and out of your life, but the chemistry still existed between us.
Now we just needed to work on the timing … but I was getting ahead of myself.
Some of us are literally hard-wired this way. Others of us have learned this behaviour from our parents, or others close to us, or developed it as a survival mechanism to deal with devastating emotional hurt. We need answers. We need closure. And sometimes not getting that can literally drive us insane.
Are you an overthinker? It turns out I am. And let me tell you, there are almost no benefits to being one. Not at all.
But rest assured, there is hope. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy, right?
- Accept this aspect of yourself. Acknowledge you overthink. You don’t let things go. You create thousands of scenarios simultaneously for each and every thing anyone and everyone says to you, most of them so dark that you wouldn’t share them with anyone else. If you find yourself spiralling into depression and despair, or can’t enjoy your present for fear of your future, you have a problem. You’re an overthinker.
- Forgive yourself. The brain is wired to overthink. We don’t separate thoughts from memories. In fact, emotional triggers will bring unpleasant memories to the surface and our brain is so powerful that it can make connections that may or may not exist between every bad thing we have ever perceived to have happened to us. Forgiving yourself is the first step to healing. Believe you are worth it. Believe others see that too.
- Breathe more. Seriously. Take deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Cleansing breaths. It releases happy chemicals in your brain. It will increase CO2 in your bloodstream which can calm you. It can give you the chance to gain perspective on a situation. Take as long as you need. Ten minutes might feel like an eternity when overthinking, but imagine feeling calm and at peace. Ten minutes wouldn’t be nearly enough.
- Talk less. If you are discussing your overthinking with others, stop. If they are also an overthinker, things will get inevitably get worse. If they aren’t, your brain hears what is being said and really doesn’t differentiate between fact and fiction, so you are essentially creating your own reality around you. This also means don’t “talk it out” by yourself. If you really need to work things through in this manner, write it down, or do as some of us do (waves hand) and write a blog.
- Get physical and get busy. The last few months have been particularly stressful on me. I’ve been trying to get a startup business going for starters, as well as many other more personal things going on in my life. Yet at the same time I’m in better physical shape than I’ve ever been. Sure, some of it is the recent workout program I adopted, but I also know for fact that much of it, for better or worse, is converting overthinking into energy at the gym. She doesn’t want me? I’ll show her. I thought as I pushed out extra reps with a heavier weight.
In addition to physical activity, engage the brain. I’m attempting to learn a new language this year. I’m working harder and more hours than I ever have. Whatever it takes to stay focused as all the good things in my life continue to snowball in my favour.
- Stop borrowing trouble. Live in the now. Be mindful. When we overthink, we are so consumed with our perceived mistakes of the past and fear of the consequences in the future, that our present doesn’t get the love and attention it deserves. We neglect it, and thereby neglect ourselves. Practice just sitting, meditating, maybe while you’re breathing, and only focus on the present moment in time. As overthinking thoughts come in, acknowledge them and let them go. No judgements. No hanging onto things. Just embrace the moment.
- Let it go. Stop trying to control everything. Trust. Trust in yourself. Trust that at the end of it all, you’re going to be ok. Better than ok. You’re going to be awesome. Accept that you cannot control the universe. Rather, embrace the wave and ride it. Surf your life like a champ. Trust that everything happens in its proper time and place and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. Persistence and consistency are essential to success in life. No. It just means that you are willing to stop swimming upstream, trying to undo yesterday or control tomorrow.
- You do create your own reality. As I recently learned while writing a very challenging apology letter to a mentor in my life, perception is reality. Like attracts like. What you put out is what will come back. Call it karma, or anything else you want to, but there is a truth to it. Be what you want in your life and that is what will come to you.
It may sound simple, but let me tell you from personal experience, it takes effort to bring all this awesome on a daily basis.
The day after, my comm buzzed again. It was Mynxee. She had a great time and was looking forward to seeing me again sometime in the near future. What does this mean? When is near? Does she mean it? Maybe she’s just being polite. My brain tried to do what it was wired to do … until I took a few deep breaths, thought about my place in the present, smiled at the recent memory of how much fun I had as well, and opened my eyes with a fresh perspective.
It was time to stop reading too much into it.
Powerful read and wonderful job mixing that lesson in with this small piece of fiction. I find myself over thinking a lot as well and you illustrated the torment VERY WELL! Plus that image… wow that image!