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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    Falling Into a Rabbit Hole of Self-Doubt: Tips to Overcome Overthinking

    We can all relate to a situation in which our thoughts spiral quickly and uncontrollably, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and full of unhelpful emotion. From minor dilemmas, such as what outfit to wear to a date, to more complex issues, such as dealing with a job, our lives can be infiltrated by overthinking.

    Feeling powerless in the face of an internal barrage of questions or thoughts can lead to a sense of desperation, like you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole, where stepping back and viewing the situation objectively or moving forward seems nearly impossible. You may be asking yourself, ‘Am I trippin’?’

    Relating to this situation, and having experienced it ourselves, we are here to offer our advice and provide hope that even the deepest and most difficult of thoughts can be gently slalomed through without needing to get stuck in the middle.

    To begin, it is important to understand why you’re overthinking in the first place. Questions of how to approach a problem often become suffocating when our initial reaction is to react at once. Our instinct is to immediately move into fight-or-flight mode, casting aside a more measured or logical response. Although this type of reaction is understandable and helpful in certain situations, it is often not the most helpful long-term approach to problem solving.

    When we are in fight-or-flight mode, we are essentially closing down our ability to think clearly because our autonomic nervous system has taken over, generated a quick response and hijacked the driving wheel from our conscious thought processes. When this happens, consider pausing, taking a step back, gathering your thoughts, calming down, and reorienting your attention towards the problem at hand in a more mindful state.

    Additionally, if we start ruminating for too long, our thoughts can become warped and convoluted, making it difficult to separate what requires action and what is unfounded doubt. In these occasions, it can help to separate fact from fiction by bringing other likeminded people into the conversation. Even though you may generate the same pattern of erroneous thoughts, talking over the situation with compassionate friends or professionals who are not caught up in the same immediate emotion or thought, can provide a more critical or impartial viewpoint.

    Once the issue has been clarified it can be easier to visualise a path out of the rabbit hole and back to a clearer mind. Try to make a plan step-by-step, breaking the situation down into achievable mini-goals that allow you to gain back some control, as there may be obstacles on the journey due to the complexity of the issue.

    This plan of action should also include obtaining appropriate support, whether it be professional, social, or familial. This external support can help condition the overthinking, providing a different opinion to yourself and an outlet for venting emotions.

    Reaching out to those who care can offer solace, allowing us to take the time needed to process ordinary and overwhelming thoughts alike. And it helps to remind yourself that being able to form thought and feeling around any situation is an opportunity to demonstrate strength in yourself – so try not to drown yourself in guilt for doing so.

    Finally, remember that it’s also important to nurture yourself- just as a garden needs tending to before its blooms, tend to yourself too. Ensure your needs are taken care of, in whatever form that may arrive, as it can be very easy to forget basic wants or needs while focusing on pressing issues. Give yourself the permission to do this; self-care can be a show of courage and compassion to yourself.

    Returning to the question, ‘Am I trippin’?’, the answer is no. Overthinking our emotions, decisions, and experiences can be an unavoidable stage during problem solving. With a bit of effort, though, we can come out of the rabbit hole feeling stronger and more content in the knowledge that we can and will survive those turbulent thoughts.

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