To think we might be overthinking….

22 Oct

Hmmm….

Now I’m thinking about how I’m a cognitive-behavioral (CBT) therapist.  😉

Sure, I utilize a multitude of theories and interventions based on my clients’ goals and what I have discerned to be the primary strengths and deficits in functioning. But I was trained in assessment of the mental and physical and how they operate in tandem to create the circumstances we  find ourselves in.  Many of those circumstances we’re uncomfortable with.  Many of those circumstances we have created ourselves, through our distorted thinking.

Perhaps I gravitated toward CBT because I was once an overthinker. No, not a critical thinker, although I could toot my own horn and call myself that as well. Now.  Then I was a ruminator. No, not digging around in the dirt with  my snout!  Okay, let’s get serious!  I would have one negative thought, and suddenly my  life was in shambles. Everything was awful. Catastrophic even! Needless to say, this approach to dealing with life (if we can even call it ‘dealing’ ) was not effective.  In fact, it was quite dysfunctional.

A perfectionist from the womb,  but of course influenced by experiences and relationships as I grew up, I struggled with significant anxiety following high school.  My black and white approach to life during my 20s  gave me a sense of control initially, but inevitably resulted in easily becoming overwhelmed and feeling caged.  I can say with utmost honesty, that I was terrible at regulating my emotions in a meaningful and helpful manner. Those of you who know me might be surprised to hear this. I’ve been told too many times to count that I’m always “the voice of reason.” Others have commented on how “level-headed” I am and …”speak with such common sense.” Years ago I could easily have been labeled nonsensical!

And that brings me to my main point. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we forget that we have more than our minds to help us respond in ways that will effectively help us live fully. When was the last time you just invited whatever negative emotion you were experiencing to take a seat and hang out for a while? My guess is that when you get uncomfortable, you immediately try to usher the unwelcome feeling out the door. And you don’t shut the door quietly. “Good riddance!!” But it comes back. What if there was acknowledgement and acceptance–a “hmmm…this is interesting. I wonder where you came from” type response? Would it be nearly as uncomfortable?  We have our senses- touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. We’ve become so out of touch with our bodies and their teachings….we’re stuck in our heads. And now you’re recognizing how this can sometimes be the most unrealistic place to be!

I learned through practice of mindfulness, of paying attention, of approaching my circumstances objectively, and challenging what would roll through my incessantly thoughtful brain, how to find what has always been right in front of me. We are so limited and restricted often by what we think.  We have fixed ideas and create our identities around them. Fear is bred by who and what we believe ourselves to be, not what we are actually capable of.  Consider what “the possible” is. It is what we all can do when we are not binding the goal with the ropes and chains of our internal expectations. Sure, we need to think, but we need to think in a new way. A fresh way. We need to think like we thought as children. When we had no attachments.

Victor Frankl said it best: “Between the stimulus and response, there is space, and in that space lies our power and our freedom.”

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2 Responses to “To think we might be overthinking….”

  1. jamikotera October 23, 2011 at 6:59 AM #

    Wow Kori – another fabulous post! As typical for me when reading your blogs, I was a bit unnerved at the message. It’s brilliant, yet so simple, so logical. I always ask myself when struggling with an emotional issue why I seem to be unable to come to these conclusions/realizations on my own; I’m a 52 yr old, college educated woman, afterall. I would think my life experiences alone would help me “wise up, but I still struggle. You, however, just put it out there in a manner that makes perfect sense – that gives me hope that I can achieve some inner-peace without the torment of thinking too hard about every personal conflict I struggle with. The holidays will be upon us quickly – the most stressful time of year for myself and many others, I’m sure. Don’t stop posting – I truly gain something from each entry you make!

    • kpropst October 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM #

      Thank you for your comments, Jami. Our “mind’s eye” is veiled. It wears a patch instinctually, unless we consciously remove it. We wait for things to happen the way we believe they need to be or want them to be and would benefit from recognizing them for what they are. How much less stress we would have if we operated without so many expectations!

      Learning to view how we are operating doesn’t come naturally, Jami. Your age doesn’t matter one bit. 🙂 You’ve had more experiences as a result of your age, so you have developed more automatic thoughts and reactions to various circumstances. That in no may means, however, that you can’t learn to be more objective and trusting of your ability to access and accept the present. We’re conditioned to be vigilant in the face of stress. It was kill or be killed. The fight or flight response was adaptive! Our nervous systems evolved as a result of always looking around for what was wrong! 😉

      By moving more into the body as opposed to being so “mental” all the time, we can develop greater perspective and deeper “presence.” We can ask ourselves what we are believing. What do I feel in my body and what is this telling me? This can also teach us to be more compassionate with ourselves, Jami. Our best resource is often right inside of ourselves.

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