Becoming Aware of my Overthinking Mind
and Making Friends with my Inner Four-Year-Old
The method where people with chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s can reduce their stress-related symptoms and, with persistent work, break free of their diagnosis
One week after third session with Lilian and the Hope Shortcut
My Overthinking Mind
During my third session, Lilian and I talk about the inner dialogue, thoughts, the voice or voices in my head.
My mind has several voices running constantly. It is like having a TV on in the background that is constantly narrating, planning, ruminating, rehearsing, arguing, suggesting, doubting. It changes the channel frequently. It practices future conversations, or rehashes past ones. It plans for things that never happen. An overthinking mind can be dangerous – triggering the fight flight or freeze response continually.
One of its most interesting habits of my over-thinking mind is that it intricately plans escape routes. How would I get my infant son and the dog out of the window if the house caught on fire? Where would I hide if a gunman came to the house? It goes over the sequence of events in detail. I don’t sit down and plan these things. My mind just does it on its own.
Lilian tells me that not everyone’s mind is like that. Upon Lilian’s suggestion, I ask my friend what her mind is like. I assume, her mind is like mine constantly ruminating, worrying and planning. She has kids. I am sure she has a lot on her mind. She laughs and says her mind is usually pretty blank; it might have a dancing clown in it like Homer Simpsons’. That sounds peaceful.
“My mind has several voices running constantly.
It is like having a TV on in the background that is constantly narrating, planning, ruminating, rehearsing, arguing, suggesting, doubting”
We think we have a similar way of thinking - but we have not
We ask each other, “what do you think?” and get a story.
Next time ask in detail about HOW your friends are thinking.
Are they thinking in pictures, written text, a speaking voice, or with feelings?
How many voices do they use to think? 0, 1, 2, or more? Everything is ok, but having only 0 or 1 voice makes life easier and healthier.
Around 1/3 of the population are hardly thinking and doing well. The rest are thinking about yesterday’s regrets and the worries for tomorrow, or thoughts that drag your attention away from your body and the constant feedback you get from here.
My inner Four-Year Old
I notice that my freeze ups are often precipitated by internal pressure. There is the internal pressure I put on myself to do the things that I “should” do. I know I don’t want to do it, but I push myself anyways. Or I put pressure on myself to do something at 1000% effort. Somewhere inside, there is an inner protest or maybe an inner wisdom.
Lilian coaches me to have compassion for myself if I freeze up. To say to my body:
Its ok. This is what is right now, you are safe.
I have a profound experience when I have the opportunity to practice this. I sit through a freeze up and just let it be ok the way it is. This experience is profoundly different for me and I feel a shift.
There is the internal pressure I put on myself to do the things that I “should” do.
I know I don’t want to do it, but I push myself anyways..
Somewhere inside, there is an inner protest or maybe an inner wisdom.
I realize that I have been practicing relaxation and calming techniques for years. But I didn’t listen. I was just trying to get my body and mind to shut up and do what I wanted it to do.
This is one of the great things that my four-year old son has taught me. He is what people describe as “spirited”. I cannot just shush him. He demands to be heard and understood. Even if his concerns seem inconsequential to me, I have to listen, I have to acknowledge and empathize and then he will calm down. I can’t just tell him: “That’s silly. Don’t be upset about that.”
But I have not been listening to my body, to myself. My inner spirited four-year-old has concerns and is refusing to budge I have just been telling her: “That’s silly, don’t be upset about that” calm down, and do as you are told.
The good thing about spirited children, is that they bust up old patterns. They refuse to just comply with expectations and the “shoulds” that we try to force upon them. Therefore, they force us to evolve, to grow, to learn, to examine the shoulds that we have applied to ourselves and to rethink them.
Lilian is a bit like a spirited four-year-old. She is here to bust up old patterns and assumptions and evolve our way of thinking about stress and chronic illness.
The inner child
The inner child is a metaphor for you having a practical side.
You are maybe still hurt if someone is making comments as the bullies made in your school.
When you get an extraordinary feeling that is somewhat out of proportion with what happened, the “inner child” can still remember the past episode.
It is never too late to get a happy ending to this episode. Never too late to get a “happy” childhood. We cannot change what happened, but we can release the feelings connected to the devastating events