Secrets of Overthinking: How Mindfulness Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety & Overthinking

Published On: May 12, 2022

Categories: Meditation, Mindfulness

Hello, it is I, Charlene a former champion overthinker. I thought, overthought & second-guessed everything. It’s not a joke to say that I could have spent YEARS obsessively ruminating over a situation that happened. No matter what the situation, my head always made it out to be the biggest thing in the world. While everyone else forgot about it 10 years later I would still cringe & get embarrassed over it.

And when you’re still experiencing second-hand embarrassment years later it can make it almost impossible to imagine that you could ever stop feeling like this.

But there is a better way, trust me.

It took me a long time to figure out how to stop overthinking and overcome my anxiety but I did and have never looked back.

Even writing this post I’m remembering all the time I spent overthinking things because of my anxiety.

Convinced that “I could never” do something, say something, heck even wear something.

Turns out I could and nothing terrible happened when I did.

If it involved speaking to someone I pretty much ran away. Now? I teach workshops regularly, have guested on a number of podcasts, and have traveled on my own meeting new people & making friends along the way.

All things that younger Charlene thought were completely impossible.

But it’s not and I’m here to show you how.

Secrets of Overthinking & Anxiety

The thing is, overthinking & anxiety lets us know what scares us.

I know, you’re thinking, “of course, my anxiety tells me what I’m afraid of!”

But when you slow down and pay attention to your thoughts & where your anxiety shows up you can really dig in and understand what’s causing it and why.

And when we know what’s here we can work with what’s here.

Like when I used to worry about speaking in public what I was really worried about was being judged by others. I used to spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about what other people thought of me.

Here’s the thing, we are all so caught up in our own lives that no one is really paying that much attention to you.

As Alexis so eloquently says in one of my favourite shows.

how to stop overthinking & anxiety

The only person judging me was me. 🤯

And the moment that I realized that was the moment that everything changed.

Thoughts are just thoughts…

I’ll be honest, my anxiety can send my thoughts in some pretty interesting directions.

At the time I was dating a guy and it took him a little longer than usual to respond to my text 3 minutes later I was convinced it was because he was secretly married and had a whole other family. I’m embarrassed to admit that my mind went there in a very short amount of time.

But the second that I had that thought I realized that my anxiety was feeding my inner critic and I needed to take a moment and settle myself back down.

And then of course he messaged me back a few minutes later because he didn’t have a secret family. He was busy living his life like all of us are.

I could provide a number of embarrassing stories (which is a judgment) of the times that my anxiety led to overthinking and to me making mountains out of molehills. Or even creating problems where there were none.

When your overthinking creates problems that don’t exist…

Here’s one more.

I get migraines pretty frequently. And sometimes they end with me 🤮🤮. There was a night I was out with some friends, old & new when I developed a migraine and needed to get the heck out of there before the inevitable happened.

Did I tell people why I was going home early? Or course not. Why? Because I believed that people would ask me why I get migraines (?!) and I didn’t want to tell them. See, I get migraines because I was hit by a bus. And I was worried about telling these new friends because ultimately I hadn’t yet come to terms with my new reality of my brain injury. At the moment I was worried that they would judge me for it and not want to hang out with me.

Which is only a thought and one that was 1000% not true – these people are all still my friends and they all know (now) about my accident.

But because I was worried and was overthinking the situation I made it into a thing that it didn’t need to be. Do you know how many people get migraines? A LOT.

How to Stop Overthinking & Anxiety

I know, I know, I’m a broken record. But the way to stop overthinking & anxiety is by paying attention to your thoughts. And the way to do that is with mindfulness meditation.

I had NO IDEA how my thoughts were keeping me stuck in anxiety UNTIL I started paying attention to them.

The more that we pay attention to our thoughts the better equipped we are to calm down. That’s why mindfulness meditation is the quickest & most effective way to stop overthinking & calm your mind.

Overthinking can trick us, especially when it happens with anxiety. We think that we’re practicing some coping skills by imagining the worst case scenario – but what we are really doing is ruminating on all the possible ways that things can go horribly as a way to convince ourselves not to even bother.

There is a way to think about possible problems and plan for them as a coping strategy and it’s one that I teach inside my coaching programs – you can sign up for the waitlist for that here.

A parable that I use with my coaching clients to help them to understand this is the lion & the mouse.

I share about it in this video but the basic idea is:

You come home from work and sitting in the middle of your living room is a lion!! OH NO!! Your body, naturally, goes into fight or flight mode because there’s a lion in you living room. You panic but eventually calm down enough to get the situation sorted out. All is now well in your world, phew! Cut to 3 weeks later, you once again come home from work and sitting in the middle of your living room is a mouse! EEK!! And because your body remembers the lion you immediately jump right back into fight or flight mode… Only this time it’s a mouse, not a lion. Our fight or flight system is designed to help keep us safe but with all the different stressors that we face on any given day, sometimes it gets things wrong. This is where mindfulness & learning how to pay attention to your thoughts can help with your anxiety – because it can help you to recognize when you’re in fight or flight over a mouse instead of a lion.

The next time you are positive that it’s a lion in your living room, STOP, pay attention to what’s happening and really look at what’s going on because maybe it’s a mouse.

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Charlene Gethons

Hey there, I'm Charlene!

I help creative entrepreneurs with chronic illness create a sustainable business that fits their lifestyle without letting imposter syndrome take over.

Charlene is an entrepreneur, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach living with chronic illness after she was hit by a bus.

This week on 🎙️ Calm Amidst the Chaos🎙️, I share a little bit about what it’s been like being a high achiever who now has a traumatic brain injury. 
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I speak vulnerably about the shift from being a in a “race car” to now driving an older model with a faulty gas gauge and all that that entails. 
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And how mindfulness has been a game-changer for me during this time. 
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Since learning mindfulness I’ve created the tools, practices and strategies to help me navigate the difficult and challenging times. 
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✨ To help me to deal with the anxieties and stress that come along with running my own business. 
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✨To meet the sadness and the moments when I am feeling disappointed, frustrated and depressed as a result of my life being turned upside down in a moment - twice. 
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✨ To continue to show up and serve every day because I know just how truly valuable this information is and that everyone needs to know it. 
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It is my goal to help other entrepreneurs with chronic illnesses and disabilities to heal their anxiety so that they can prevent and manage their burnout. 
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Join me on my podcast this week as I share my journey of rebuilding and finding strength in the face of adversity. 🌟💪 
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Click the link in my bio to sign up for my FREE 7 day mindfulness meditation challenge so that you can start to build your meditation toolkit to prepare for difficult and challenging times. 
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#Rebuilding #FindingStrength #NewBeginnings  #Mindfulness #PresentMoment #CalmAmidstChaos #traumaticbraininjury #highachiever
🌟 Life can change in an instant, and it's not always easy to navigate the new reality. Today, I'm sharing my journey of rebuilding after a traumatic brain injury. Join me in my virtual living room as we talk about resilience and finding joy amidst the chaos. 🌈✨ #MindfulnessJourney #Rebuilding #FindingJoy
Did you know that in addition to online courses I also have been brought in to lead a mindfulness workshop at other companies/organizations?
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Over the last 7 years I have helped people learn how to quickly calm their mind when they are feeling stressed or anxious. All by using nothing but your breath. 
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I’ve taught at TD, AMEX, the TDSB, and BIAYR. I’ve even led a meditation (virtually) from the inside of the ROM during the pandemic!
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Each workshop I’ve taught has been tailored to the population and setting that I was going to be speaking at. 
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The common denominator is reducing stress so that you can prevent burnout. 
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Want to learn more about how we can work together? Send me a quick email at the link in my bio.
Feeling overwhelmed? Try the STOP practice

✨S - stop what you’re doing
✨T - take a breath
✨O - observe what is going on inside and outside of you
✨P - proceed mindfully

This practice helps you to notice what’s going on, to allow the experience to be, just as it is. By taking a moment to STOP you also give yourself the chance to CHOOSE how you want to respond. 

Feeling overwhelmed? STOP and take a moment to choose what you want to do next. Do you need to take a break? Grab a coffee? Ask for some help? 

Feeling frustrated? Do you need to get some air? To head outside for a quick walk? 

This practice helps you to consciously acknowledge, in any moment, the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are affecting you. 

To notice when your inner critic is showing up, to notice what it is saying to you AND to remember that thoughts are just thoughts. They’re not facts. 

The more you do this practice the more you can notice your thoughts without attaching to them. To let them go without attaching to them. 

To hear the inner critic, acknowledge that it’s just a thought, and that you can choose whether to listen to it or not. This is what mindfulness helps us to do. 

Ready to get started? Join me inside my FREE 7 day mindfulness challenge and create your very own meditation toolkit today. 

Click the link in my bio to join me.
Hey everyone! 😄 

Have you ever found yourself overthinking and blowing things out of proportion? 🤔

 We've all been there! In my podcast episode, I shared a personal story about how my catastrophizing thoughts almost ruined a date 😅 and how mindfulness helped me find calm amidst the chaos. 

Give it a listen and let me know if you can relate! 🎧 (link in my bio)

#FindingCalm #Overthinking #MindfulnessJourney
Getting all the scritches and belly rubs today. 🎉🥳🎂
Hey, hey! 😄 Let's talk about the art of procrastination, my friends. 

Ever find yourself getting 85% through a task and then suddenly losing all motivation to finish it? 

You're not alone! We all face that struggle. We'll be exploring why this happens and why it's not a sign of laziness. 

Plus, I'll share some fantastic strategies to help you beat procrastination and make progress towards your goals. 

Let's get started! 💫 Click the link in my bio to listen to this week's episode #Procrastination #Motivation #GoalSetting
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🌿 Hey there, grab a cup of coffee and join me in my virtual living room. ⁣
Today, let's talk about stress. It's something we all experience, but did you know that a certain amount of stress can actually be good for us? 

It can motivate us and help us achieve our goals. It's all about finding that sweet spot. 

Let's dive into understanding stress and how we can manage it effectively. 

#StressManagement #FindYourSweetSpot
I can’t believe it’s February already! I don’t know about you but January felt like it was 3 months long. ⁣
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