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Hey Friends, it's your Host Sylvia Nwokolo. Let's talk about that nagging thought in your mind, you know that thought that constantly beclouds your mind and you can’t seem to shake of. In some cases it causes you some kind of anxiety and you just want to do something about it. It could be based on a past, present or future event but you just keep playing it in your head and losing sleep over it. Well today I want us discuss this issue of ruminating over a matter – overthinking. Overthinking can start subtle and creep in like a normal occurrence until it becomes an issue that affects us significantly. I believe that awareness is the first stage to resolving any issue. It can be daunting to spot an issue but you can’t really solve a problem without being aware that it is an issue. Can you identify when you are overthinking or has it become so normal to you that you assume that you can’t see any other way of doing life. You are just used to overthinking and worrying over stuff. There is another way my friend, to live free from it. But before we talk about that, let’s dive into how we can catch ourselves when we go into an overthinking mode. For me, one of the symptoms that tells me that I have gravitated into overthinking mode is when I am losing sleep over a matter. I either can’t sleep or find myself waking up at night or early in the morning, ruminating the thought in my head. So for you, do you know when you start overthinking? What are your symptoms? Is it that you are not eating? Constantly falling ill? Isolating yourself? Or losing sleep like I do? I would like you to become very aware of your pattern, those symptoms that indicates to you that you have started ruminating on a thought. The awareness like I said earlier is key to you dealing with it.

Now having identified that you are thinking about a particular past, present or future issue constantly. The first to do in resolving it, is writing it down or talking to someone about it. Get your thoughts out of your head and into words either by using your journal or expressing it to a trusted person. Articulate your thoughts so you can start to think objectively. Ask yourself truthfully - Why is this thing taking up space in my head and preventing me from being productive? And what can I do about it? What part am I meant to play in the matter?

I recently had an overthinking moment where I was scheduled to give a virtual work presentation in a couple of days and realised that my internet had started acting up. At first I thought it was nothing to worry about and it would adjust itself soon, but it became very obvious in other meetings I participated in prior to this presentation date. I immediately went into overthinking mode, worried about this future event, catastrophizing about how the meeting will be a disaster! When I realised my overthinking mode, I had to do what I am laying down here. I voiced my thoughts to my husband and only then did I remember that he had told me earlier to call our service provider to which I didn’t take serious. So what could I do in this matter? I called the service provider and had this long conversation on the phone, troubleshooting the problem with them. By the time I hung up the phone, they still had not found what the problem was and promised to look further into resolving it. I was still not satisfied as they could not give me a concrete date when the issue will be resolved. It looked to me like the lady was just trying to get me off the phone. Which leads me to the next point, we should ask ourselves when we are in overthinking mode - Is my thinking taking on other people’s responsibility? Am I trying to control others selfishly to get what I want? It’s ok to be firm but not unkind. It’s ok to want something but don’t throw your value system out the door just to get your way. Manipulating others in the pursuit of what you want will not give you full satisfaction when you eventually get it. So I realised that I had done what I needed to do regarding resolving it – it was the service provider’s responsibility now and I can’t control them by overthinking. Then I did my next favourite part - praying about it. You see, I seek God’s wisdom regarding the issue because I believe there is always a way out. God is never stuck on what to do. I invite him into the situation so I can exchange the overthinking for peace. Often, fear and overthinking can cripple our minds from seeing possible solutions. Philippians chapter 4 vs 6-7 from the bible is my go to scripture for overthinking, it goes like this:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

If you notice in this verse, his peace is part of the answer to the issue. With his peace, not fear, his peace, I am guided in my heart and mind. Meaning we need peace to walk in wisdom. It is easy to think that if I resolve this issue then I can find peace, but the right way is to embrace peace before the solution is resolved. This I find so key - finding peace in the midst of that chaotic situation causing you to overthink. In his peace we find wisdom and direction, we find solace. In his peace, you can get back into the rhythm of your life without losing sleep; because I know I have done or I am doing what I need to do and I have committed what is not in my control to God, so I exchange my worry for his peace. And Like a hose that has been released from the knots of overthinking that was hindering its flow, I begin to watch the water flow freely. In other words I began to feel his peace, see clearly, receive insight and wisdom, and see life beyond the issue crippling me.

One way you can tell you have embraced peace, is your ability to get on with the rhythm of your life – your everyday stuff that you loved to do, the things that keep you growing, thriving, expanding and moving forward; the things you find meaning doing. You don’t need to fully resolve the issue to do these things, you need to embrace his peace to do them. In the case of my presentation, I received his peace and realised that I had a back up plan – to use my mobile phone’s hotspot - imagine the wisdom I had overlooked because of my overthinking.. However a day to the presentation, I noticed the internet was now fully back to normal so it all went well. I have had much more onerous and some less trivial issues that took me into the overthinking mode, but with being aware of my symptoms I use these same pointers I have shared with you, to walk myself out of the overthinking trap and exchange it for God’s peace. I can’t control the future but I know who holds the future so I am always in safe hands, and so are you my friend, so are you because God has got you.

Let me leave you with this verse paraphrased from the bible ..and now, friends, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Overthinking is not productive, overcome it with these points and receive his peace so you can keep winning, shining and thriving. God bless.

Sylvia Nwokolo is a Wellbeing Transformation Coach and Author.

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