A while back I was having breakfast with a friend. We were chatting about how calm, cool, and collected she always is and how I feel like a hot mess of a tornado most days. She has 6 kids and is always so confident and in control. We talked about how I am always over thinking things that happen and things people do. I asked her how she was so easy-going all the time? How did she let things brush off her shoulder so easily while I often obsessed over the tiniest details?
Do you like bubble gum?
Huh? Why was she asking me if I liked bubble gum? What did gum have to do with anything we were talking about? Maybe she hadn’t had enough coffee this morning. Knowing this friend, I realized what she was doing. She was trying to teach me something. She was trying to say that chewing bubble gum is like over thinking things . . . stay with me here. It’s all yummy and tasty at the beginning, but then after a little while the gum looses its strawberry flavor and gets all nasty and rubbery tasting. Sometimes it even starts to break apart on you. That’s how it is when you are over thinking things. At first you get all fired up about why someone said that, or looked at me that way, or didn’t speak to me . . . you know what I mean don’t you? You start talking real fast to yourself and if you are like me your southern accent starts coming out. After a while though, just like that bubble gum, those thoughts get stale and just difficult to think about. The worst case scenarios start running through your mind and you start to panic about all the possible things that could go wrong. In just a matter of minutes, you are exhausted before you have even taken an action. At this point, you just wish you would have stayed home or off your phone or in bed for that matter!
I looked up at my friend sitting across the table from me and gave her a sideways grin and asked her if that was what she meant.
Nope. I was just thinking you might want some gum since we just finished coffee.
Dang. Okay then . . . point taken.
Have you done this before? Okay, maybe not specifically about bubble gum. Do you see how are thoughts can take hold of us in an incredibly powerful way and completely change our perception of reality? Why do we feel we always need to dig deep and think harder on things? I am guilty as charged on this struggle my friends. I have a hard time not over thinking things. Everything from my marriage to my parenting to my weight to my clothes choice to the colors I picked on my blog.
Please don’t get me wrong, thinking things through is a wise thing to do. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about over analyzing things. Reading into the words and actions our friends make instead of trusting that they are our friends who would never intentionally harm us. Making assumptions about what our husband thinks of us instead of believing that he thinks we are even more beautiful with the C-section scars and stretch marks. We are talking about taking God at His word and believing He is good for it.
When we over think on our problems and in our daily interactions our judgement becomes cloudy. It becomes increasingly harder to remember what even started this train of thought. Our stress levels become elevated for no real reason. We become women who spend way too much time on the negative side of life. It’s hard to take action. It’s hard to make a decision. Our confidence fails. We begin to lose who we are. God’s Word has something very important to say to us today.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:6-9
So how do we do this? How do we stop the over thinking cycle? How do we practice these things above? How can we put it down, and pick up the peace God is offering us? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Be Aware – Knowing is half the battle here. When you start to doubt yourself or begin to question the actions and words of those around you, pause. Acknowledge what you are thinking about. Is it worthy of praise? Is it valid? If not, make the big girl decision to drop it.
- Live in the Positive – Focus on the things that could go well instead of what could go wrong. Instead of wondering why she looked at me that way and assuming it’s because she hates my dress . . . maybe she really liked my dress. Rather than worrying if Ian is going to get sick and wind up in the hospital in the middle of our vacation, I am going to focus on a great family trip and deal with any issues that arise when they come up.
- Find Something That Distracts You – If you find yourself obsessing over a thought you just can’t escape, try doing something to change the voice in your head. Dig into scripture, crank up some K-Love, find a coloring book (my personal favorite is Jacob’s hulk one).
- Accept We Are Not Perfect – It will never be perfect. Short of Heaven, you will never be perfect. And that is okay. We are a flawed people but we are covered by God’s amazing grace and mercy. It’s okay to mess up. Extend yourself the grace that you so often lend to others.
- Check Your Perspective – Take a step back and look at the big picture. Is this thought really worth the value I am placing on it? Call a good friend and tell them where your mind is. Chances are they will help you gain some perspective on the situation.
- Don’t Be A Slave to Fear – I think a lot of times we over think because we are afraid we are going to fail or not be good enough. We will cover this in another post, but let me just say YOU are the daughter of the King of Heaven. You have Christ Jesus by your side. The fear you think is real . . . it is the enemy trying to weigh you down. Tell that snake to back off of you!
- Time It – I remember seeing in a movie sometime that the ER doctor allowed himself 10 seconds to emotionally freak out and then he had to pull it together to do his job. Literally, set a timer for 5 minutes. Get all your worries out. And when that timer goes off make the decision to change.
Our minds are powerful things. They have the ability to physically and emotionally cripple us if we let them. Just like the other struggles we have talked about, don’t view this as a big picture thing, but a daily request and effort. Allow yourself the grace to mess up. Change will not come overnight, but each step towards living in the confidence of Christ is one step closer to a life lived in peace that God offers.
Do you have any other tips for fighting over thinking? I would love to hear them!
This post is part of #Jesus&Coffee linkup and is also linked up with #openmicmonday
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Chelsey Coffey says
WOW! This was such a great post. I am a huge overthinker and your tips are so practical and helpful. 🙂 Thank you, Jen. Have a super Wednesday and thank you for the linkup again this week.
I am too Chelsey! I am glad you liked it and found the tips helpful. I have to repeat them to myself on a daily basis 🙂