Sunday, March 10, 2013

Over Thinking

I am the worlds biggest over thinker.

Last night, for example, while letting my dog out before bed, she ran away. This, unfortunately, is not an uncommon thing. We live in the middle of the woods and typically, within fifteen minutes she's scratching at the front door, begging to get back inside.

When this happens, my mom gets really upset, puts her boots on, grabs a flashlight, and goes out looking for that silly dog.

This doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but in my head, my thoughts quickly began spiraling out of control.

"Great, now my mom is mad at me."
"I can never do anything right. How hard is it to let the dog out without losing her?"
"I better go downstairs and close my door so I don't get yelled at."
"This only happens when you let her out, Kels."
"What is wrong with you?"
"Now my mom doesn't trust me and she thinks I'm lazy."
"Lazy people are weak."
"If I'm weak, I am flawed."
"My mom must be so ashamed of me."
"I'm just not good enough for anything or anyone."


Sounds harsh, right? Sadly, that's how my brain works. It doesn't work like this all the time, thank goodness, and it has gotten better since I began recovery, but these thought patterns still linger. Something as simple as letting the dog out quickly turns into a full blown, over-thought-out mess. No matter what happens during my day, there is a pretty good chance I can over think any situation into an "I'm not good enough" thought.

Over the past few months, thankfully, I have learned that there are a few different things I can do to break this self destructive thinking cycle and help regain my sanity.

1. Take Action- Instead of running down to my room and sulking in my thoughts, I could have taken action by asking my mom if there was anything I could have done to help. Or maybe even asking her flat out if she was upset with me; instantly proving me right or wrong, putting an end to my assumptions.

2. Challenge my irrational beliefs- I am not weak because my dog ran away. That just sounds silly. If I can challenge that thought, then maybe I can stop the rest of the downward spiral.

3. Redirect my attention- Again, instead of hiding out in my room, I could have done something to distract my mind. Simply turning on the TV would be a mindless way to distract my brain for the time being.

4. Mindfulness- One technique a past therapist of mine always recommended was, imagining those negative thoughts as leaves floating down a stream. Allow myself to feel that emotion, but then let it pass me by. My thoughts can't hurt me and they will pass.

5. Patience- Like everything in recovery, changing these thought processes does take time. Trying to be gentle with myself when these thoughts do come up is a huge step in the right direction.

Most importantly, I need to find a way to stop beating myself up for beating myself up. Right now in recovery, I am pretty good at knowing, logically, the difference between healthy and unhealthy thoughts. It just becomes more difficult to act on the healthy thoughts when I begin snowballing unhealthy thoughts like this.

The human brain is one of the most fascinating and complex things in existence. Learning to change thought patterns that have been ingrained over the course of a lifetime, is downright frustrating and it would be so much easier to give up. I have made way to much progress, however, to throw in the towel now. 

I am an over thinker and probably always will be, but thankfully, there are ways to help myself overcome these battles in my head. 

Progress.

8 comments:

  1. This was PERFECT for what im going through right now. I'm a month into recovery and just got out of the hospital a week ago. My therapist just did a talk with me about this same topic- so I feel ya when you say "sometimes my brain does this!" I also LOVE the brain, so studying ED and anxiety is a passion of mine. I love that you have the redirection steps listed here- did you come up with these or did your therapist help you with them? The best part of it all is that THE BRAIN DOES CHANGE!! It can and it does with work- just like you can train your muscles you can train your brain. Thanks again for your strength to be honest, you really are making a difference in peoples lives. If you ever want to chat or anything i'm on FB and Tumblr as Heather Says.

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    1. Hey Heather,
      I'm glad you could relate to this! It makes me feel much less alone. :) I would say this list is an accumulation of things that I have come up with over a decade or so of therapy haha. Best of luck retraining your brain! Keep me posted on how it goes and let me know if you learn any new tricks! <3

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  2. You are definitely alone. I over analyze everything. It's my nature, and I work as an engineer... right career...? LOL. But, it does not work well when I apply it to do life. I have learned this in the 12 step program that I have gone. Thinking makes me feel like I am doing something... and I get into a chain of thoughts and I get nowhere. It creates an illusion in my head, and it is usually negative, fear and worry. I am currently struggling with my eating. I have a meal plan and eat 3 meals a day with some snacks. I get up in the middle of night, and grab more. I feel like a big failure, and that's what I am thinking right now. I am not in a good place. Eating makes me feel scared. Wanting more makes me feel scared hell out of me. I don't want more. When I restrict myself, I feel good. I feel like I am doing a good job and right. I am in my disease, I know. Sorry for talking about myself... I love reading your posts! Thank you for showing me your wonderful recovery! xoxo

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    1. Hang in there- those thoughts can be changed over time. <3

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  3. Thanks for putting on optimistic twist on this subject. I really needed a little encouragement in this department. xoxo.

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  4. Aw, no problem! Glad I could help. :)

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  5. You are not alone with over thinking! I am, too. It's a stupid, difficult, viscous cycle that you just over time learn to break. It will eventually get easier... Of that I am certain. Soon you'll make choices without thinking of EVERY possible outcome, do something wrong without the pit of your stomach falling to your toes, and smile when you don't know the answer because that's the way the world goes. You can't analyze everything, it's truly not worth your great brain to do it.
    Love/miss you! I'm so proud of you and I hope Muzzy is safe at home! :)

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    1. You have such a way with words, Kenzie. Thank you for the encouragement. You kick ass. ;) I can't wait to see you soon! And yes, Muzzy is safe at home. <3

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