How to deal with obsessive thinking

We have all been there. It’s in your head as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

It’s this nagging ache that follows you around all day long.

As soon as you stop doing whatever you are doing, it pops up again. You try to shake it off and take a deep breath.

But as soon as the darkness comes crawling, so does that thought. And depending what is going on in your day, you will tackle it by pushing it away or you will be absorbed by it. Sometimes you will just allow for it to fully wash over you and the worst case scenario movie starts to play in your mind. Over and over until you are so full of the feeling that you almost think that it’s true.

You find any distraction you can possible think of to not be focusing on the obsessive thought.

Lord knows we live in a time where everyone is a master of distraction. You can pick any field and there is a different way of simply not just being. Work, social media, spirituality, wellness, fitness, fashion, extreme sports, cooking… well if you think of another field, just add it to your mental note.

I, myself, am a master of finding things to do in order to not feel the agony of nothingness. And I do it in the name of expansion. So it’s the new podcast, the latest book, the writing, the practice or simply checking in with any of my friends who might have the same need to distraction right now.

Like EVERYTHING else, the only real way to solve an issue, is actually to go against what we would tend to do. Because, well, what we tend to do apparently hasn’t really solved anything so maybe we have to realise that there is another way.

I want to share with you my actual experiment of this. I already know what is happening when I’m obsessed over something and I know what is needed. But if you are already deep down in the negative spiral, it can be hard to bring yourself back and use the tools you have. If the obsession comes from a deeply wounded place it is also more difficult reverse the process than if it’s something that affects you less.

Before I go into my experience, let me state what is happening when we are obsessed over a thought process. As the word states it, your are in your mind, you are in the thinking when this happens. It means that you are in the “imaginary” part of your mind and not the “here right now” part of your mind. You are more in fight or flight mode than rest and digest. What this actually means is that you are in fear response to your current reality. The energy is focused on the mind and you want to bring that activity down to a slower vibrating frequency, something physical. Basically, you want to move away from an emotional reaction of fear and towards one of faith. We have faith when we are trusting, safe and connected.

Now, there is much more to say about the process of the obsessive thinking and what it does to your body but that will be the topic of another article. Instead, I want to reassure you, I want to help you towards a state of faith by describing what I did myself and how it helped.

So that you remember it when the time comes for you.

I woke up early with the image well ingrained in my mind’s eye. Something happened the day before that left me in a state of full blast fear mode. Old memories of similar situations came up and I could fully feel the panic in the body as if danger was staring into my eyes. So I started with sitting down in meditation and naturally, it grew stronger. There is a small difference between the sensation we feel when the emotions come and the narrative that accompanies them. I could feel the feels, the ickiness as my friend calls that state. But I could choose to not enhance it with the voice in my head that usually perpetuates the state. I decided to myself, I set an intention if you will, of not interfering with the emotion. When the unconformable feeling comes, we begin the narration as a way to justify what is happening and more so (key notion!), as a resistance to it. I said to myself, I will not argue with the feeling, I will not try to make sense of it or make it go away. I will simply let it be and see if I can just stay. 

When I stepped onto my mat, I continued this experiment and noticed that the justifications just kept coming now even more. I had reasons so narrate about what I was doing on the mat or the person next to me or the smell that came or the sounds around me…

And you know what?

All of that, are reasons again to be back in the thought process and therefore not to be with the feeling. So I continued by saying to myself “you’re narrating again” when I noticed the mental activity.

It went on like that for the two and a half hours on the mat. I focused on the breath going in and out as I moved my body in the habitual sequence. When the emotions came over me, triggered by me not being able to execute a pose for instance, I noticed that the obsessive thought was on it’s way back in. It’s tricky because it starts with some typical self criticising ideas around what is happening in the moment (the yoga pose) but will quickly spiral back into the obsessive thought that was waiting in the background. So as I noticed the idea coming up, instead I said “you’re narrating again”, put it behind me and went back to focusing on the inhale and the exhale during the movements.

Don’t expect fireworks and rainbows with galloping unicorns coming down just because you do this. But as I went on with the rest of my day, I noticed that my heart was lighter. I wasn’t thinking about it as much. And more so, when it popped up again, I had gotten so used to my “mantra” of the morning that it automatically came to me : you’re narrating again.

If you have some trust in my words, your faith in dealing with obsessive thinking might have grown a little after reading this. But the real way to trust that it works, is to experiencing it yourself. Everything we integrate really stems from having experienced it first.

Let me know how it went.

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞