Updated: Dec 12, 2019
In today’s post, I’m going to shed some light as to why you can’t stop overthinking your relationship.
You feel like you try and you try, but the thoughts keep coming up and you find yourself stuck in the cycle of overthinking again and again. Feeling disconnected from your parter and doubting the relationship all over again.
I want to break down 4 reasons why you can’t stop overthinking your relationship.
The first reason is that anxiety targets what is important to you. Relationships are the most important thing in our lives; they hold the most value to us as humans. And intimate relationships are also the thing in which we are most vulnerable. There is the most amount of risk of getting hurt or suffering from loss. So, anxiety is going to attack anything that might come up as a threat to what’s important to you. Anxiety and fear don’t want you to get hurt.
A thought or a question about your relationship comes into your mind, and since your relationship is so important to you and since anxiety doesn’t want you to get hurt, it’s going to start this cycle of thinking about it and not being able to let it go. Your mind says, “oh, this is something important!” An alarm in your brain goes off that says, “this is questioning, doubting, or challenging what is important, so I really need to keep thinking about this and listen to what the thoughts are saying.”
And that leads me to the second reason as to why you can’t stop overthinking your relationship. And that is the sense of urgency to figure things out, to solve the problem, to answer the question, etc.
This urgency of needing to figure it out right now perpetuates the need to keep thinking. There’s this surge of energy that runs through your body when this anxious thought comes in that says, “oh my gosh, this is so uncomfortable and scary! I have to figure this out right now! I need to solve this problem right now! I need to find the answer to this question right now!” And since the urgency is there, you’re going to keep thinking about it until you “find an answer.” Which will never happen, so the thoughts continue.
Reason number 3 is that the fear response in your body tells you that the thought is dangerous. We have something called a bidirectional feedback loop between the brain and body. They are in constant communication with one another. The brain sends signals to the body, and the body sends signals up to the brain. So when this thought enters your mind, it sends a fear response to the body and the body, when still feeling afraid, is going to continue sending signals up to the mind saying, “nope, we're still not safe. We’re still in danger. We haven’t dispelled this fear energy.”
The body tells the mind that there is still a danger present in those thoughts. This feeling of fear perpetuates the need to solve or fight the mental problem. Since there is no physical problem right in front of you in the present moment, that fear energy can’t go anywhere. The fight/flight energy is meant to help us fight something physical in front of us or run from physical danger. Because the “danger” is a thought, we can’t physically fight or run from it. So, this fight/flight energy just remains in the body and continues to send communications of danger up to the brain about this thought. Therefore, the thought feels more and more dangerous and the body has no way of telling that this threat is a mental concept versus a present reality. This continuous feedback loop of fear tells you that you must continue to fight or solve these thoughts.
The fourth reason you can’t stop overthinking your relationship is because neurons that fire together wire together.
Every time you have a particular anxious thought, and you have a fear response in the body, it becomes a neural pathway that become wired together. When the thought and fear response fire simultaneously in the brain/body multiple times, it becomes a wired pattern. So the more you are thinking about your relationship and doubting it and the more you feel that fear in response, the more entrenched the pattern becomes. It becomes harder and harder and harder to stop overthinking and feeling anxious about your relationship, because this pattern has become so deeply entrenched. It feels almost impossible to stop thinking and feeling anxious about your relationship.
I have been there. It sucks. It’s so difficult to be present with your partner. You feel so confused and your body perpetually feels afraid, exhausted, drained and tense.
And the key to breaking free from the overthinking is to stop trying to solve things on the level of the mind. The mind thinks there is a certain answer to these questions and doubts. The mind thinks there’s a bottom to it and continues to think until it “gets to the bottom of it.” But there is no certain answer. There is no bottom. There’s not a perfect answer that you’re going to stumble upon as you’re overthinking. The key is focusing your attention on the body so that you can rewire the fear response. So when you notice a thought coming up and you feel that surge of fear in your body, you must do something to release and dispel that fear so that your body can regulate and return to a state of safety. When your body and nervous system feel safe and you are present, these thoughts are going to slow down and naturally dissolve.
And the more you practice moving out of the body’s fear response and rewiring that response to a state of safety, the less power these thoughts are going to have. The less urgent and significant they will feel. When you know how to tune into your body and feel safe, the more you’ll notice that these thoughts don’t affect you as much. You’ll find yourself saying, “hey, I had that anxious thought today but I didn’t respond like I normally do. I didn’t buy into it and think about it for hours and hours.” Maybe it hits you for a moment, but you’re able to effectively release the fear before it becomes too overwhelming. You’ll be able to remain present, calm, and safe, rather than going into the mental stories. The mental stories will never end. The mind always finds something new to think about or a new problem that you “have to solve."
What is so important is learning to tune into your body and understanding what’s really happening in your nervous system. That way, you’ll focus on feeling the feelings and shifting them rather than focusing on the content of the thoughts.
When you learn how to do this, you can be calm, present, and connected in your relationship.
You’ll no longer be overthinking and overanalyzing every little thing. You’ll be able to have a deeper connection, more laughter, more intimacy, and more enjoyment of one another.
So if you find that you can’t stop overthinking your relationship and it’s sabotaging the present, I invite you to schedule a free and obligation-free 30-minute Relationship Assessment. We’ll create a map on what it would take for you to be free from anxious thoughts so that you can embrace the love that is right in front of you.
You can schedule it here.
I can’t wait to chat with you.