Tuesday, March 21, 2023

You can’t think yourself out of feeling unsafe

The tendency to over think scenarios,  situations and experiences sometimes causing further emotional distress can be a symptom of anxiety, depression, ADHD, stress, trauma and probably more. But if you’ve struggled with all of these throughout your life time, then how do you know which is causing it, or how to stop it? 

I can’t tell you how much of my life Iv wished there was an off switch for the brain. It’s exhausting living in a reality where every action or things said to you by other people must be analysed over and over again. It’s also neither helpful nor practical, as we will never fully understand the reality of another human being. 

Within psychology, behaviours are looked at in terms of their function. So if we’re talking about over thinking/ predicting, I suppose it does serve a logical function. Human beings are hardwired to be alert to danger and so any sort of negativity can technically play into this. And so, first thing to do is practice acceptance and compassion towards ourselves for engaging in this behaviour in the first place. 

The tendency to over think and over analyse can also come from a historic experience of being in danger / trauma- if an individual finds themselves having to consistently read another’s body language, actions, words etc in order to gauge whether they’re likely to cause you harm that day, this skill can remain with you even when not wanted. 

Restricting thoughts and learning how to challenge anxious thoughts can definitely be a helpful tool in my experience, but during times when you are truly triggered, you cannot think your nervous system into feeling safe at that time. These thoughts can then spiral and spiral and usually resulting in some sort of outburst. Unless I physically do something to shift my brain into feeling safe. This can look like: 

  • changing the environment 
  • going outside & breathing fresh air (&hopefully get some vitamin D)
  • having a friend/ loved one comfort or ground you 
  • showering/ bathing 
  • Seeking support outside of yourself (doesn’t have to be a friend there are services you can remain anonymous with
  • Exercising   

Even as I’m writing this, it makes complete sense considering research has identified a limited number of ways to quickly reverse the effects of the body’s fight or flight response which are sleep, vitamin D and the human growth hormone. 

So unless anyone’s got a plug for some human growth hormone, I guess it’s important to keep in mind that overthinking is not the answer, during those triggering times. 


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