Are you overthinking everything? 9 ways to break free from chronic worry

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Do you worry all the time? Do you overthink so much that it feels like your mind never stops?

Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve spent so many nights lying awake with worry that I lost count.

But over time I found ways to deal with it. Through trial and error, along with some smart advice from both Western and Eastern philosophy, I’ve learned how to get my worrying under control and tame that monkey mind.

And the best part? These tips actually work! So, if you’re fed up with your racing mind, join me and read this article.

It will help you find that peace of mind you’ve been looking for.

1) Embrace Yourself

Our journey towards personal development often begins with self-improvement. But lately, I’ve discovered it’s about accepting and appreciating ourselves as we are, with all our worries, quirks, anxiety and emotions.

For our life to be meaningful in any way, it means there are times of stress and pain.

We all have times of suffering. Having difficult emotions is part of the human experience.

It’s how we deal with our inner world of emotions that drives everything. Dealing with our feelings in the right way is crucial. It impacts everything in our lives.

Being emotionally agile means recognizing our emotions, good or bad, naming them, and understanding why we have these feelings. This can help us decide to move forward, rather than just worrying endlessly.

In our world that is becoming more challenging and less predictable, being emotionally agile can make us more resilient and thrive.

2) Find tools that work for you

We are all individuals, and some approaches resonate with us more than others.

Over time, I’ve found two powerful approaches that significantly impact how I navigate life: They are similar approaches with the same results but with a different language, one Western evidence-based, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and the other eastern spiritual philosophy.  

These approaches have worked wonders for me.

They’re like two sides of the same coin – one embraces spirituality while the other is grounded in scientific evidence.

Developed over the past 30 years, ACT encourages us to change our relationship with stress and anxiety, not just to eliminate them. It enhances the quality of life by enabling us to align our actions with our values.

3) Discover mindfulness

A key aspect of ACT is about being present in the moment without judgment. It’s a skill that helps us ‘wake up’ and connect deeply with ourselves and others, ultimately increasing our resilience and life satisfaction.

 Dr Russ Harris, well-known ACT trainer and author says,

“We can use mindfulness to ‘wake up’, connect with ourselves, and appreciate the fullness of each moment of life. We can use it to improve our self-knowledge—to learn more about how we feel and think and react. We can use it to connect deeply and intimately with the people we care about, including ourselves.

And we can use it to consciously influence our own behavior and increase our range of responses to the world we live in. It is the art of living consciously—a profound way to enhance psychological resilience and increase life satisfaction.”

4) Watch Your Thinking

ACT also emphasizes ‘defusion’ – the act of stepping back from our thoughts. Recognize that you’re not enslaved by your thoughts, feelings, and memories – they’re just words and pictures, fleeting and transient.

Sometimes, we can be consumed by certain thoughts. The monkey mind is an apt term for this type of thinking. It can be ruminating about the past, being fearful of the future or even something that a person said to you.  

5) Open Up and Accept

The next step in ACT is acceptance. Make space for your thoughts and feelings, letting them be.

Once you start getting frustrated that these thoughts are persisting you will get caught up in them again. 

It is important here to separate yourself from them. It is such a relief to know you are so much more than persistent and unwanted thoughts, feelings, sensations, images.

Try reframing thoughts like “I am not good enough” to “I am having the thought that I am not good enough”. It’s a small shift, but it can make a world of difference.

6) Clarify Your Core Values

Clarify what your core values are and let them guide your actions. They’re your compass, directing your journey through life. They are how you want to behave in all facets of your life.

If you are not clear about your values, try this free exercise. Click here to access it.

7) Commit to Action

Finally, ACT involves committed action – taking steps in alignment with your values. It might not always be easy, but it will always be worthwhile. It is “doing what it takes” to live by your values even if  it can be painful. 

In a nutshell, ACT stands for:

 A= Accept your thoughts and feelings and be present

C= Choose a valued direction

T= Take action.

8) Explore The Untethered Soul

A book called ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer has also been incredibly influential for me. The book is all about understanding your inner self better and learning to control your thoughts and emotions rather than letting them control you.

The book teaches that you’re not your thoughts, you’re the one who hears them, and learning to separate yourself from your thoughts and feelings can lead to a sense of peace and freedom.

This is the ‘untethered soul’ the title refers to – a soul free from the constraints of its own thoughts and feelings.

The book encourages you to open your hearts to the present moment, let go of past hurts, and not worry about the future. The ultimate goal is to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

It beautifully articulates many concepts similar to ACT and is a fantastic resource to help you journey toward wellbeing and acceptance.

9) Meet Your Observing Self

ACT introduces us to our ‘observing self’ – the part of us that’s aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is where we step back and observe our thoughts without being swept away by them and is an important part of mindfulness.

Singer states this in a different way but with essentially the same meaning. He encourages us to differentiate between our ‘self’ (the pure flow of awareness) and our ‘personal self’ (our identity based on inner voice and thought patterns).

Singer eloquently says,

“Just view the voice as a vocalizing mechanism that is capable of making it appear like someone is in there talking to you. Don’t think about it; just notice it. No matter what the voice is saying, it’s all the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s saying nice things or mean things, worldly things or spiritual things. It doesn’t matter because it’s still just a voice talking inside your head. In fact, the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying.” 

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.

You will someday come to see that there is no use for that incessant internal chatter, and there is no reason to constantly attempt to figure everything out. Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.” 

In essence, ACT and ‘The Untethered Soul’ help us free ourselves from the relentless activity of the mind, enabling us to live life on our terms, not just directed by the incessant chatter within.

It is our attitude to those constant thoughts, our willingness to engage in the present, and our commitment to align with our values that define a life well lived.

What a relief to know it is not our thoughts that determine how we live our life!

 

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Jeanette Brown

I have been in Education as a teacher, career coach and executive manager over many years.
I'm also an experienced coach who is passionate about supporting people in finding real meaning and purpose in their lives, building a resilient, grounded inner self and achieving their desired goals.

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