An Overthinkers Journey to Resilient Thinking
The difficult part about overthinking is learning how to turn one’s mind off, but it is possible by learning how to be in the moment and reframing intrusive thoughts.
Dec 28, 2022
The difficult part about overthinking is learning how to turn one’s mind off. During the cold last few weeks, I’ve turned to yoga as my morning workout routine. It’s been a tough transition. When the weather was warmer, I’d run. Thinking a great distraction from the running part, but it was also a distraction from enjoying the beauty of the morning. I had to train myself to notice something new during each run. The old man on the corner uprooting all the beautiful chuparosas. The wooly cacti blanketed by lengua de suegra. The kittens huddled together for warmth as they waited for the morning sunlight. Without nature to distract me while doing yoga, I’ve had to begin training myself away from intrusive and even productive thought to instead listen to my breath and focus on my body. Overthinking generally has a negative connotation, but, once I learned to be present, I was able to begin reframing my thoughts and build a more resilient mindspace.
The innerness of my mind has always run deep, and it continues to be a place to lose myself. Frequently, I think about my father. Who would he be today? Who would I be? How would my family have been different, better, closer to whole? I love who I am today, which is due in large part to his death, but I would also trade everything I have for one more day with him. I dreamed of him recently for the first time in what’s been years. I was in a huge conference center trying to find my room. As I walked into the room behind two women, I saw a man sitting outside the room hide his face. This sudden movement drawing my attention. As I turned and looked, it was my dad, hand shielding his eyes and shoulders sinking deeper into the chair. Running over, I yelled, “Dad!” I jumped in his lap, hugged him, and cried. Realizing my brother was also somewhere at the conference, I ran to find him determined to share this joy. We unfortunately ended up not making it back to my dad before I woke up. I’ve noticed my dad hasn’t visited me. Sometimes, I even ask him why out loud. After this dream, I realized he’s always been there on the edges. This fortunate time he messed up. I could see it on his face.
Meditation has never worked for me, so I’ve turned to stretching and exercise to be present. Focusing on my body—the pain and fatigue it’s feeling, the surprise when it can or can’t do something—clears my mind. The present is so elusive. It almost feels like it’s unending until I reflect on what’s past. The death of my dad being a significant marker in the passing of time. Everything traces back to that moment. Being in my body helps ground me. It's a place where the past dissolves away for a moment. If there’s any anxiety from pending worries, exercise or stretching will help with that, too. I’ve found a way to give myself time to just exist, a sacred moment the construct of this world has done it’s best to lessen. This grounding experience has allowed me to learn how to practice "grace"—something a therapist mentioned to me years ago.
Learning to live within the borders of my body has allowed me to step back and give myself the understanding I deserve. Where I once would’ve spent hours mulling over something I said or talking too much, I can redirect these thoughts to something more positive: The laughter around the fire, the delicious food, the overall joy of the moment. Though my mind is tempted to fall into the same patterns of harmful overthinking, I am now able to redirect this overthinking into positive reflection and can turn these moments into fodder for pleasant refuge.