Overthink: verb: to spend more time thinking about something than is necessary or productive. This little word can activate everything from little annoyances to major mental roadblocks. It comes in many forms: constantly worrying about the future, “analysis paralysis” that stifles decision-making, over-analyzing past mistakes, and second guessing ourselves in social situations and relationships. Those are just a few of the ways we tend to overthink.
In this episode, we’ll detail the major ways many psychologists categorize overthinking. There’s a good chance you’ll recognize yourself in one or more. Then, we’ll follow up with five steps to slow down or stop the overthinking cycle. Along with tips from pros, we’ll recount some successes and failures we’ve had along the way. Some of these situations include Sandy’s recovery from “catastrophizing” (otherwise known as drama) and Lanée learning to cope with embarrassing situations (and we DO mean embarrassing).
Join us as we imagine a life free from the burdens of overthinking and discover how to find inner peace and embrace the unexpected. We’ll talk about tapping into our faith and how trusting God and His timing can have a huge effect on our clarity and comfort level. Plus, we focus on silencing that ever-present inner critic. So grab some coffee or tea, click play, and let's navigate the path to a more balanced and positive mindset together.
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Sandy Kovach [00:00:00]:
Overthinking: Whether it's just something that's annoying or a huge problem, it affects pretty much all of us at one point or another. And that's what we're talking about today on Imagine Yourself podcast. We're going to give you some nice steps to overcome overthinking. Before we get to those, we'll talk a little bit about exactly what overthinking is and the different kinds. Welcome to Imagine Yourself podcast, where we help you imagine the next chapter of life with grace, gratitude, courage, and faith.
Lanée Blaise [00:00:31]:
Hello, everybody. Welcome to imagine yourself. I'm Lanee here with Sandy, and we want you to imagine yourself living in a world where you are always under the microscope. Every time you take a picture, it's posted everywhere for the whole world to see. Every time you think of something interesting, it's published everywhere. People hang on your every word. But then you begin to start to overthinking. Everything you said, everything you did, every way you looked. Wait, is that a pimple on my forehead? Oh, shoot. Did I give the right greeting to my fans as I pass by?
Sandy Kovach [00:01:15]:
Your fans? Are you Beyonce?
Lanée Blaise [00:01:17]:
I'm Beyonce. Yeah.
Sandy Kovach [00:01:19]:
Lanée Blaise [00:01:19]:
Am I a bad neighbor? Am I a bad mother? Am I a bad human? Should I say or do something or invent something awesome to win back the approval of myself and others? This is one sad example of overthinking. We're going to talk about that today.
Sandy Kovach [00:01:37]:
Sandy, that is a lot of overthinking. You kind of stretch the imagination a little bit there.
Lanée Blaise [00:01:43]:
Sounds like a movie trailer, too. But here's the thing. That's only like one area of overthinking. That whole concept that everybody's looking at you and those people are not people have their own lives, or if they are looking at you all the time, I feel that they don't have enough to do. We know that people are busy, like you said, Beyonce. Yeah, maybe they're all looking at her all the time. But basically, if you and I mess up or anyone out there mess up, worst case you gave them some kind of funny train wreck for them to witness. And they're going to forget all about it by next week when some new person slips and falls on a banana peel or says something crazy or whatever. Yeah, but there's other types, too. There's the type of very frustrating overthinking that's kind of like in the Marvel movies, Doctor Strange, where you start thinking about all the possible outcomes and good or bad for every situation, and if you do one little thing wrong, then everything's going to fall apart in your whole life. And we really thought that we needed to talk about this today. Sandy and I realized humans definitely overthink things. Sometimes your life can just really spiral out with it. And we don't want anyone overthinking their finances and their friendships and their health and their looks and stuff like that. So overall, we are just trying to put a stop to that type of stress. We're trying to imagine a life where you don't overthink everything so you have peace and you roll with the unexpected things and you don't overanalyze everything that he said and she said and we said and we did. So I don't know. Sandy, what do you think about all this as we roll into this?
Sandy Kovach [00:03:26]:
Well, first of all, let's assume that this is not Doctor Strange and we do not have different multiverses where we can go and live different lives based on different decisions. So let's just say that kind of like the Matrix, like we were talking about in the other podcast. What was supposed to happen is going to happen.
Lanée Blaise [00:03:45]:
I like that quote that was said, what happened, happened and couldn't have happened any other way.
Sandy Kovach [00:03:48]:
Couldn't have happened any other way. And that's kind of like the first way to overthink. Yeah, or one way to overthink. And you even said before that there are different ways to overthink. What I wanted to do is I got this list broken down by psychologists of the different ways people overthink. And I know you have your other list that we're going to be talking about the different steps for stopping the overthinking, but we'll dive deeper right now, just a bit into the different ways and maybe you'll recognize some of these in yourself. So replaying past mistakes is the first one. It's kind of like what you were talking about a little bit in the multiverse example. And there's even different ways that we do that, but it's probably one of the most common. Here's another one that's big, worrying about the future. Everybody does that sometimes, but you can really spiral out of control if you take it too far. Right. Number three would be relationship insecurity. Now, I think this is mostly about close relationships, like a relationship with your significant other. I have that issue sometimes with reading into things or taking things the wrong way. But when you think about it, you can read into things with anybody. Like let's take your cashier at the grocery store for an example. Let's say you're buying something really unhealthy, sour cream and onion potato chips and you're thinking, oh, they're probably looking at me and thinking, why are you eating that? That's really bad for you.
Lanée Blaise [00:05:22]:
But she was really thinking about her own thing. That's right, thinking about her. She saw something totally different and we can overthink that and get it wrong on top of overthinking. Yeah.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:32]:
We'll make up our own weird excuse for why so and so was looking at us, or so and so said something to us. Career and work related decisions. That's kind of obvious. That's one that we put heavy emphasis on a lot. And sometimes we just have to use our best judgment, social anxiety overthinking social interactions. And this is kind of like the cashier story, too, or it can be in relationships. It's a little bit like the one before. Perfectionism is another one where we set unrealistically high standards and we start overanalyzing all the details and et cetera, et cetera. And here's one I like. This one called analysis paralysis. And it's overthinking decisions to the point where you can't make a choice fearing the consequences of making the wrong decision. And that can go into as a subtext on any of these other ones, too. Okay, here's one. I like to do this one too. Catastrophizing: imagining the worst possible outcomes.
Lanée Blaise [00:06:29]:
Yes, that's so frustrating. And then if it doesn't even happen, then it turns out to be unnecessary.
Sandy Kovach [00:06:38]:
Sometimes you can really take it to levels that are ridiculous information overload, because whether it's through social media, watching television, or however you get your info, there's a lot out there and a lot of opinions out there and a lot of people fighting out there. And that can really if you're trying to make a decision, well, so and so would say this, well, I read an article that said that, but wait a minute, if I do this, I just read something else that said that. So that and then self criticism constantly berating ourselves for whatever reason. So there you go. That is ten things that we're going to talk about and not necessarily in that order. We're going to kind of weave in and out of those and maybe even find some other ones.
Lanée Blaise [00:07:18]:
Okay, how about this in pure full disclosure, I was talking to my daughter before we started this episode, and she was kind of under the impression that we all overthink. I kind of had to counter her on that because you can tell your opinion your way also. Sandy but I know that I have several flaws, but overthinking is not really one of the ones that I particularly struggle with. And I think it has a lot to do with the way that I was raised. I had parents and stepparents and grandparents that I lived around and lots of siblings. And if I really took time to overanalyze everything, I'd miss the whole day because of so many people. So it's like I kind of live this way where it's like I do what I do. I look smart or I look dumb or I fall down or all my clothes fall off or whatever, and I get back up and I live. I don't get easily embarrassed. So that's really good because I had lots of situations where I could have been embarrassed growing up, but I just kind of got over that and I really try. It's taken me a long time, but I now really do try to just trust God for the next thing that's going to come and whatever it's going to look like. I try to be ready for the unexpected things and how can you be ready for unexpected things? You just have an openness that something different is going to pop up, that you didn't expect, and you don't have to overthinking it as to why it happened or whatever. So I don't know. Do you struggle with overthinking?
Sandy Kovach [00:09:01]:
I think there's a couple of these that I'm pretty good at, and being pretty good at overthinking is not a good thing, but I've gotten better at a lot of them. Catastrophizing I think I talked a little bit about in the podcast before. When little things happen, I tend to blow them up into oh, my goodness. Like when the power goes out, well, we won't have power for ten weeks or something stupid and not thinking that there are a lot worse things in the world that could be happening to us or happening to others. It's just like a minor thing or just little minor interruptions in the day. Like you said, you're good at expecting the unexpected, and I'm better at that now. But yeah, before I could just get really thrown off by that. I have a particular way I needed to do my day, and if something happened or somebody needed something, it was always a big deal. I think the other one that I've probably been the worst at as far as relationships, reading into things, particularly with my husband. And I think that's because he and I are so different and what he says or does or his actions or let's even take him coming home from work in a bad mood and he's short with me, and then all of a sudden I'm thinking, oh, my gosh, what did I do? Did I do something? How did I make him mad? Not saying that I walk on eggshells around him or he walks on eggshells around me, but I just wonder, is it a reaction to something that I did? But he had a bad day at work, so I'd say those two are the biggest ways. One thing that's really helped me with the catastrophizing and I saw a quote about this. It says, instead of overthinking no, don't overthink. Over pray. So like you said, setting yourself up for the unexpected, because it is unexpected things are and always will happen.
Lanée Blaise [00:10:47]:
Yeah. And humans are not always predictable. And to be fair, this whole aspect of me getting better at it, it hasn't been perfect. I remember several years ago, I definitely was overthinking in a relationship situation. It was a friend of mine. We've been friends for years, and I had totally put together a full blown conversation in my brain that never happened. So I'm saying in my brain what I think she's thinking, and she wasn't even on that level at all of frustration when I did really talk to her. Turns out that I had just thought up a whole scenario that wasn't the case. She didn't feel that way about me. We are still friends, so we always do need to be mindful of how far we're letting those thoughts go. Overall, I don't want anyone who's listening to be paralyzed by overthinking ever again. I know that some of us have been raised by parents or families to be very self conscious sometimes, or we might be naturally wired to overthink things. Society, of course, can sometimes push us to really overthink, especially our looks and our ways and the way we present ourselves in balance, in moderation. Some overthinking can be good. There's accountants out there that I'm sure need to make sure that they get those numbers exactly right. But besides things like that, I put together a few tips, like five little tips that I thoughts would be helpful. They've helped me thoughts the years. So number one, which we kind of talked about, is embrace unexpectedness. My family watches this TV show, a reality show called Big Brother. Been watching it 20 some years yet, and it's always expect the unexpected is what Julie Chen, the hostess, always says. So not only expect the unexpected, but maybe even embrace the unexpected and just be ready to have to move differently when things or people do things that you didn't expect. The second one is drop the desire to have all the likability factors ticking off for all those strangers out there, whoever they are in the world. You really need to focus on the people who truly love you, and you don't even need to be perfect for them. Just putting that out there. Number three, I kind of touched on it a bit, but not completely think about embarrassment and humor in a whole new way, because humor can solve so many problems. If you ever think about comedians, a good comedian is very good at noticing things, societal norms and people, and they make light of it. But many times it can even be heavy subjects and real subjects, but they're able to put a dash of humor on it to make it more palatable for those of us who have to deal with life. Life.
Sandy Kovach [00:13:59]:
Yeah. No, you're right. And we don't have to be Jerry Seinfeld or who am I trying to think of? Chris Rock
Lanée Blaise [00:14:07]:
Or Dave Chapelle. We're not like them, but you can think of things sometimes the way that they do and let it roll off a little bit with humor at appropriate times, of course. But humor can be so powerful in relationships, especially. My husband has deflected lots of arguments between us with a good, well placed joke. Yeah, it has to be well placed because it's got to be right timing, but he really can diffuse it. And it's like I'm over there cracking up when I was really about to fuss at him for dropping crumbs all over the floor. Another one. It's hard to do. It really is. It's two simple words, but it's hard to do. Trust God. Trust God. Trust your inner soul. Trust that life really does self correct over time. It's not easy. It takes time to develop. Look back at things in life where you did get through it, where you were able to trust God, really even think back in times in life where stuff happened totally a way you didn't expect for it to, but that God took care of you and got you through it.
Sandy Kovach [00:15:17]:
Yeah, that's good. Like journaling keeping or at least mental records some way that you can recall. Because trusting God, I mean, that's the ultimate trusting his timing and trusting that He's there, even if it doesn't seem like things are going well right now, eventually things will work out. Yeah, that's a huge one.
Lanée Blaise [00:15:40]:
It really is. I mean, the sun rises and the sun sets over and over again. I hate to say this, but we have to remember, too. God already knows when we're going to pass away, when we're going to die, and it's going to be what it's going to be. And so overthinking that takes away from the living that you could be doing for yourself and with the people that you love. The fifth tip is kind of quirky. I just had this mental image of how we're wired very differently and sometimes we need to be our own inner electrician and kind of do some rewiring in that part of our space that involves super overthinking, where it becomes a damaging type of overthinking. So there's so many of us who get stuck on that. If only I had. If only she had. But please remember, you didn't. They didn't. It didn't. It wasn't going to. That's where you start thinking about those movie titles, some of those quotes from movies like The Matrix and Doctor Strange or even you remember Groundhog Day where he had to keep living the day over and over till he finally realized that he had to let some of that stuff go. And that's when he was finally free from that cycle. Movies sometimes can help you.
Sandy Kovach [00:17:05]:
Those are all amazing tips. So can we list them all again? In order?
Lanée Blaise [00:17:09]:
Sure. Just a real quick and dirty is embrace unexpectedness or embrace the unexpected. Drop that desire to have everybody like you and just so likable likable ticking off all the boxes for everybody else. Concentrate on yourself and God and those who you truly love. Don't forget about humor and even embarrassment in funny ways, I promise you. It actually has happened to me before, where my clothes fell off and I just had to laugh. I was at a water park. I went on some water ride and my whole swimsuit came. And my brother is like, Get down in the water. Get down in the water. I'm like, Get in the water. And I was like, what's wrong? Your whole swimsuit just fell down.
Sandy Kovach [00:17:57]:
Oh, my goodness.
Lanée Blaise [00:17:58]:
And the poor little lifeguard. He couldn't even speak. So hilarious now, right?
Sandy Kovach [00:18:04]:
Lanée Blaise [00:18:05]:
Don't have to overthink it.
Sandy Kovach [00:18:07]:
People have bad dreams about that. Like they're naked in public. And so it actually happened. And you survived. I can see you turning red now.
Lanée Blaise [00:18:13]:
Though, but like, out of laughter. And I'm feeling bad. I guess I truly did feel bad for my brother and for that lifeguard and whoever else was over on the side. But for me it was just like, oh, well, just pull it back up and get back on the next ride.
Sandy Kovach [00:18:29]:
Lanée Blaise [00:18:30]:
And then the last two tips are just trust God and be willing to go in there and do a little rewiring if you need to. You don't have to overthink it, but try to get some different thoughts going on in your mind, in your space and try to shut down when you see that it's just spiraling out in some way. That as you listen to this podcast, we know many times are unrealistic or a little over the top.
Sandy Kovach [00:19:01]:
Yeah. So is it okay to overthink sometimes? It's going to be part of your life and none of us can completely undo overthinking. So how do you think we know if it's going to be a problem? Because I was reading what some psychologists said and it literally can lead to losing sleep. Like, you wake up in the middle of the night and you think about what you said in 2015 to your best friend, and now you're wondering if they're still thinking about whatever. I mean, just all kinds of scenarios play in your mind from out of nowhere. So, yeah, losing sleep, there's the stress and anxiety that can cause depression. Yeah. So we know that we can go down a bad road from that. But how do you think we know if it's gone too far?
Lanée Blaise [00:19:49]:
I think that we know that it's gone too far. It's as simple as you become uncomfortable to the point of detrimental uncomfortable. And a lot of this remember too, when you're overthinking it's, pointing a big finger back at yourself, like, you are just the cause of everything. You are not the end all, be all. And I'm not even trying to say, like, get over yourself. I'm actually trying to say, like, grace yourself. Give yourself some grace. Give yourself some understanding, whatever it is that you said and did, like you said back in 2015 or whatever, I'm not going to just give a blanket, let it go, because I know that's hard to do. But I am going to say, okay, you are putting a lot of focus on just yourself right now. Let's deflect a little bit. And I'll tell you, because you and I are faith filled, it truly does help. And like I said, I didn't always have this all laid out in a nice way. But I promise you, when I was a teenager, I went through a very difficult time where my mother was concerned that I was about to have what especially we call back then, like a nervous breakdown.
Sandy Kovach [00:21:05]:
Lanée Blaise [00:21:05]:
And I had to get really still and really quiet. And I received a message from God that I hold with me forever. And it wasn't just let go or let it go or get over it.
Sandy Kovach [00:21:20]:
Lanée Blaise [00:21:22]:
Elsa exactly let it go. It was three brief statements. I believe, I accept. I love. That's something where, of course, you kind of have to fill in the blanks for yourself. What words are you personally going to put at the end of those statements? Like, are you going to put, I believe God, I accept life, I love myself. It's kind of like a call and response type of thing. You say, God has this thing, I believe. And I really challenge you all to say, like, I believe good Godly things for my life. Then when you say, I accept, I accept myself as I am. I accept that the world has unexpected situations. I accept life has ups and downs, and that last one is the most important one. I love. I love myself. I love my soul, I love my purpose. I love God, I love my people. I love living even when it's not perfect, because I accept that it's not perfect. And I believe that God is still in control. So in a way, those are like affirmations, but they're affirmations where you have to fill in the blanks, kind of make your own adventure affirmations.
Sandy Kovach [00:22:53]:
No? For sure. Yeah. And then you said that when you did that, that changed your attitude from within.
Lanée Blaise [00:22:59]:
It changed my attitude because it didn't change my circumstance right then. This was like I said, I was a late teenager, so I was in college. I had to take off a year from school because my health and my mental health had gotten so thrown off. Things in my family were changing rapidly, big transitions. So even when God gave me that message to comfort me and get me back centered, my family was still doing what they were doing or going through what they were going through, and I still had to take that gap year away from school. But it gave me the confidence and the courage to get back on the horse and get back into school after the year and to start meeting wonderful people and having wonderful experiences again, which I had started to think would just not be possible. I'm telling you this from a place of authenticity and vulnerability, and for anyone who says, Just get over it, sometimes you're going to say to your kids, like, Get over it. But instead of just saying Get over it, instead try, I believe, I accept, I love. Of course, now you compare it with the Bible verse. That's pretty popular, romans 828. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. I want you to say, like, I believe that Bible verse. Do you really believe it? Do you really believe that even if you made a huge mistake, that God can work it together for good.
Sandy Kovach [00:24:36]:
Absolutely. Jeremiah 29:11 is another popular one where I know the plans I have for you. Now, I think we talked about this in other podcasts too. That was right before Israel fell into the custody of was it the Babylonians?
Lanée Blaise [00:24:52]:
Sandy Kovach [00:24:53]:
I can't believe I remembered that.
Lanée Blaise [00:24:55]:
It was about 70 years of pure trash, pure bad.
Sandy Kovach [00:25:01]:
Yeah, but in the end, things are going to work out and that God has you. But to go from such a dark place and people do get into dark places, and overthinking can make that so much worse, because the further that you go down a spiral of negative thinking and then it just kind of colors the way you hear what people say. They may say something that's just completely innocuous, but you take it as, oh well, here's another reason I suck. And then it just goes and goes and goes and goes and goes. And of course, some folks would also benefit from therapy since this can really knock people down. Therapists know how to talk you through these things and ask the right questions because everybody's experience is going to be unique. And whatever they went through in their childhood or whatever their particular triggers might be, or they're still carrying trauma, different things can happen. A psychologist can really pinpoint that for you. So if you're listening and you're thinking, I overthink way too much and I'm so depressed, it might be a great idea if you haven't already, just think about some therapy.
Lanée Blaise [00:26:15]:
Yeah, and I know there's wonderful places online that you can go like BetterHelp and talkspace there's psychology Today, you can look up online and they find therapists. If you want to go in person in your local area, of course you can check with your insurance providers, things like that, to make sure. But sometimes it is not something that you're able to just talk yourself through. Even with good scripture, even with good affirmations, sometimes you need to take it to the full next level and truly get a professional, like you said, who is experienced with an array of different ways to help you and get you to the other side of where you can think without overthinking to your detriment. Right.
Sandy Kovach [00:27:02]:
We don't want to underthink, but we definitely don't want to overthink either. And I think overthinking seems to be the problem and we need to be mindful of the thoughts that are coming in our head and stop them when we can stop them.
Lanée Blaise [00:27:15]:
Yeah. So overall, as we have been talking about overthinking and we've given tips and we've tried to make sure that everyone has a sense of grace for themselves and the knowledge that there is peace on the other side of it, I want you to just consider this. Imagine yourself saying whatever to all the what ifs and all the perfect scenarios. Imagine yourself sitting and thinking with peace, but also catching yourself whenever you begin to move into that arena of overthinking and just allow yourself to get recentered, to reach out for help if you need it. And to remember, God is with you in all your imperfections, in all of everybody else's imperfections. And we are here trying to cheer you on from the sidelines.
Sandy Kovach [00:28:10]:
Yes, we are. And always remember, you can contact us through Imagine Yourselfpodcast.com or any of our social media outlets, which you'll also find links to there. If you're listening in app and you can scroll down and give us a rating or a review. We'd really appreciate that. It helps us to shape our podcast and helps others to find it as well. Let us know how you're overcoming overthinking or if you're still struggling with certain aspects of it. We can all be praying for each other and looking forward to talking to you again next time when we'll have something new to imagine.