Overthinking is when the brain gets stuck in a loop that it can't get out of. So the first question is why? Why does the mind get stuck in a loop?

Thought loops happen for a few reasons. Sometimes it's the mind realizing the problem is unsolvable. When that happens the mind hyper-fixates on whatever the issue is because it doesn't like to let go of problems it can't solve. Sometimes the mind regrets saying or not saying something. Have you ever come up with a great comeback or one-liner after the fact? What did your mind do with that? Yep. That regret is big and the mind will stay there until you let yourself off the hook. Sometimes fear causes your mind to go in circles. The over-analyzing keeps you stuck and the mind knows this. As long as it can keep you caught in these thought loops, you won't change anything and that's the point. The mind wants you to stay in only what it knows. Anything outside of that is scary.

It bears repeating; the mind is not out to get you. It just has a strategy that it uses for life. What's that strategy? To keep you in things that are familiar even if the familiar is painful. The mind likes things it knows. It doesn't like things it doesn't know. So when you've finally had enough pain and you decide to change it, the mind gives you all the reasons why you need to stay where you are. It's not that the mind wants to be in pain, it's that the mind doesn't like the unknown.

If the goal is to keep you where you are, then the mind comes up with ways to make you think you have to do that. It gets into thought loops. It brings up that old fear. It replays old scenarios. It replays past failures or previous attempts at change that didn't work. It tells you the same story about how you're not good enough. The truth about the mind and the voice in your head is that it will say literally anything it thinks will keep your attention and stop you from making change. It will even insult you if it figures that that's what it needs to do.

Humans don't teach each other to ignore that loud, obnoxious voice in their heads. We actually teach each other to pay attention to it, buy into it, even accept the insults it dishes out. We wouldn't accept that behavior from somebody outside of ourselves, but that voice in our head gets away with absolute murder much of the time.

The thought loops create infinite chatter in the mind because now the mind has something to re-run over and over and over again. We don't think to stop it. We don't think we can control that. We just let it ramble on, stress us out, and upset us. The pattern is never-ending until...

Until something inside of you wakes up and you finally decide to change it. For me it was like a switch that flipped. One day I was a train wreck waiting to happen and the next I was trying to figure out how to get control over the crazy thinking in my head. I didn't plan that. I was just in enough pain that it needed to change. It took me a long time though. It wasn't something that magically happened overnight. I had to continually question the thoughts in my head. I had to continually shut down thought loops and over-analyzing. I also had to recognize the difference between what the mind was creating and what was actually happening. Often those two things are very different.

Do you know what helped? This is going to sound weird coming from me; I started paying attention to what was happening in my external world. What? But I always tell you not to do that! Here's the thing; because the mind is making up stories you have to pay attention to what's actually going on for a while. We don't want to take in what happens, we want to observe what happens. Notice the difference.

By observing reality and noticing it without the judgement and the fear around it, we can begin to look at whether our thinking matches our reality or not. We're looking for the lies in our thinking. We're looking for where the story is. The mind told me the world was going to blow up when this thing happened. Did the world actually blow up? When you look around and realize it didn't, you can begin to see what the mind is doing and then you can disengage from the mind. That's an important step.

The mind wants an audience. If what it's saying doesn't get your attention it'll say something else. So when you realize the mind is lying to you and you disengage, the mind changes what it's saying. The mind will the flip the script to get your attention back. This is a key strategy in getting control over the mind. The more you disengage, the more the mind has to work to keep your attention. For a while, it'll yell pretty loudly but at some point it will stop yelling and quiet down. It'll realize you're no longer buying the stories and it will stop telling them.

What happens when somebody tells you it's possible to get control over the mind, is you quickly realize you don't pay a whole lot of conscious attention to what the mind is telling you. The mind is stuck in a loop but you're not consciously aware of it. The mind is insulting you but you're not consciously aware of it. The minute you get told that in order to get control you need to pay attention to your thinking, you get tired. It's overwhelming because the mind runs so continuously. The thought of getting control of it is actually worse than just allowing it to keep going.

Do you know what that tells me about most people? They live unconsciously. Nail biters have no idea they are biting their nails. Your mind is insulting you and you pay no attention. The mind tells you wild stories and you pay no attention. You live completely unconsciously with no active awareness at all. Half the time you don't even remember where you are or what you're doing. The thought of becoming conscious is what scares you. What do you mean I actually have to pay attention?

It's painful. The thoughts are what's painful. Life just is what it is. The thinking is what scares you. Who knows what kind of crazy the mind is going to create! What if some of that is true? What if I really do suck? What if I can't get control? What if my mind is right? The worst thought in the world is thinking that those insults your mind dishes out are true.

The only thing you have to remember is that the thoughts aren't true. The insults aren't true. The lies aren't true. The mind does that because it can; you let it. It doesn't do it to be right. It doesn't do it to be mean. It doesn't do it because it serves any real purpose. It just does it to keep you distracted and stuck. It will stop when you take its audience away, but that's the hardest part because in order to remove the audience, you have to pay attention to the show long enough to know what you don't want to listen to.

If you don't want to listen to insults in your head, then you have to pay attention to those insults and tell your mind to go to hell until it stops insulting you. (You aren't your mind and you can tell your mind off.) If you don't want to listen to those thought loops, then you have to distract yourself over and over again until it stops replaying that thing.

When you recognize that you've been tuned out for 5 hours and your mind has been unconsciously replaying who knows what in your head, you need to see what's happening there. You spent 5 hours in unconscious activity because you needed a break from your mind. Think about that.

That's what your mind wants. It likes to have free range like that. It wants to escape the cage you're trying to put it in. It likes not having boundaries or limits on what it can tell you or make up. But it's time to find creative and less harmful ways to engage the creativity of your mind. Zoning out for hours while your mind goes on a rampage is not healthy. It's not okay. It takes you away from consciously living your life.

Brain dumps are helpful for clutter in the mind. Write down everything that shows up. Don't edit anything. Then look at your pages and pages of things. What are you keeping? What are you tossing? It helps to physically see what your mind is doing. Writing it all down gives you a different perspective of what's happening in your head.

Journaling can be helpful when your mind is spinning. Just write down the noise and then read it back. If fear comes up, recognize what the fear is. The fear of reading it back is that you might find some truth in there. What if the mind is right and I really do suck? Those insults aren't true and you can safely ignore them. Instead of trying to hunt for truth in the maze of crazy you've written down, simply look for the crazy. Just see how nuts your mind is and detach from it, because it's not you. You are not crazy. Your mind is just out of control. Those things are different. You are not your mind.

Your identification with your thoughts is part of what makes you afraid of acknowledging them. You think you are those thoughts and you aren't. Most of the thoughts that you think are just creative energy your mind is expressing in unhealthy ways. Find a creative outlet. Find something to do with all that garbage your mind spits out. Think of it like garbage art. Just take the garbage and turn it into something beautiful. If you don't have productive uses for it, then learn to toss it out. Learn to recognize when what your mind is doing is no longer okay and then be ready to shift it by distracting yourself or telling your mind off.

We live in a culture of being phased out. That's why Netflix and mindless television are so popular. We want to zone out because we don't like the feeling of our own thoughts. We don't like how we feel in our day-to-day lives. The problem is that it's not your reality that you need to escape from! Your thinking is the problem! Your life is fine. There is nothing wrong with your reality.

Your thinking about your reality is what's wrong. But you keep zoning out trying to make it go away and it doesn't. No matter how much you try to control your external circumstances, how you feel doesn't change. It doesn't change because your feelings have nothing to do with what's happening around you. Your feelings are all created by the crazy in your head and that's the one thing you're not doing anything about.

You think that to get control over your thinking you have to change your external circumstances, but that won't work. Do you know why? Because once you "fix" your reality, your mind finds some other reason to make noise. Your mind will never be satisfied. You cannot control your thoughts by controlling your reality. You have to control your thoughts and then figure out which parts of your reality you want to change. You shift your reality based on how your reality makes you feel, not based on how your thoughts attempt to make you feel about your reality.

When you change your reality based on how your thoughts are making you feel, you create more pain. Why? Because the thoughts you're thinking are based on pain. That's why you're not okay to start with. The pain is in your head and then you try to create your circumstances from that, but that doesn't work. It keeps you in a cycle of pain. You just keep re-creating the same thing in different ways.

How do I know that? Because I used to do it. My external reality hasn't shifted a whole bunch. What has shifted is me. I'm a totally different human being. Because my reality hasn't shifted and I have, I know that it's possible to feel better even when your reality doesn't change. My circumstances were less of a problem to me than my thinking was. How do I know that? Because I shifted and my reality didn't and I feel better anyway.

I'm not dissociated from my reality. I'm quite aware of my reality as a matter of fact. I'm aware of the problems in my reality. I know what I don't like in my reality right now. What changed was what I did with that awareness in my head. Now instead of being bothered by the things I can't change, I just leave them there. They don't have to upset me unless I let them. I have control over me even when I don't have control over my circumstances. That makes the difference.

My control is inside of me. It's what I choose to take in from my external world and what I do with it when I take it in that matters. Being upset is one of the options, but it's probably not overly useful. It's helpful to know I don't like it, that's fine. But beyond that, it's not going to help me at all. It's actually going to make me create new circumstances based on the pain of my existing circumstances.

Being aware of what I don't like without being upset by it allows me to make a plan from a place of being okay instead of a place of pain. This is how we make our existing circumstances tolerable. It gives us the power to create new circumstances without feeling the pressure of being unhappy where we are. With no pressure we allow ourselves patience and time to do things in a way that isn't so painful. We can make better choices and ultimately get more of what we want and less of what we don't. It stops the cycle of pain.

When the mind thinks the problem is unsolvable or out of its' control, it victimizes you. It tells you that you are at the mercy of whatever happens around you. That idea puts your power out there in the world and it misses one critical point - you are in control of how you feel and think about what's going on. You are not at the mercy of your reality unless you choose to be. Honestly, that is not a conscious thought or choice that most people make. It's something they do automatically when they decide they can't control what's happening. Immediately they toss their power outside of themselves and it upsets them. That's when the problems start.

I've done this a ton in my life. It's a bad habit I've had to unlearn. I did it in my work now because I don't have control over who shows up in my work and when. I don't have control over how many people see what I offer. I don't have control over a lot of things in my work. The one thing I do have control over is my own presence. It's my own ability to write and show up. That's the only thing I have control over. I have to trust that doing that is enough. I have to keep my confidence within myself and what I'm writing. I can't put it anywhere else because if I do then I make myself a victim of my work and that isn't true.

The perception of being out of control caused me to lose confidence in what I was doing. It pulled me away. I started to think there was a problem. I didn't do the things that I knew I wanted to do. I lost my focus. It caused a cascade of problems that were all in my head. The problem wasn't in my work. The problem wasn't in my visibility or lack of it. The problem was only my perception. I had to shift my thinking to get out of that otherwise I'd still be stuck.

This stuff is all deeply hidden. It's not obvious. It's taken me time and a lot of being beaten over the head with it to see it in a way that made sense. What that meant was that I had to be willing to keep going. I had to be willing to do the work. I had to be willing to ask the questions. I had to be willing to stay in the room. I had to be willing to keep trying. The commitment to what I was doing became super important. Without having confidence in my work, it came down to my commitment to clarity and truth. The truth became more important than the work for a bit. The foundation of my work and the reason for the whole thing is my desire to uncover the truth in my own reality. All I'm sharing with you is the process that I was given to do that.

Learning to gain control over the mind and get the brain on board is one of the major components of this process. Everything stems from the mind. Learning to use the mind the way it is designed to be used prevents a lot of the pain that we experience in our lives. It is possible to feel better. I'm going to continue to try to show you how to do it.

Writer's Note: Writing a book publicly like this means my blogs are incredibly long sometimes. I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for reading!

Love to all.


Mental Chaos

Humans don't teach each other to ignore that loud, obnoxious voice in their heads. We actually teach each other to pay attention to it, buy into it, even accept the insults it dishes out.