How to Stop Overthinking: Reclaiming Myself from my Thoughts
Now is a great time to be applying all that I have learned about the power of being present, staying in the moment, the power of now. The idea that now is the only moment is not a new idea. It has been famously promoted by the likes of Alan Watts, and Eckhart Tolle. And while they were not the first to conceive of the idea, they were among my first teachers because they are white men and that is what is available to me in my present form.
It was tonight, tucking my 7 year old son in to bed…I wrapped his feet up tight and we giggled as I put the blankets over him, one by one, counting them in my sing song voice just like I did when he was a baby. “Ah one a -blanky…” as I raise it up and let it fall gently but neatly over him. “Ah two blankies!!” This is much too exciting for me. He giggles and asks me if we can do nose kisses. And it stuns me because I realize that it has been a while since we did nose kisses!
“When did I forget? When did we stop doing that? Why?” I feel a pit in my stomach, the pit of guilt, the pit of “not enough” and my mind becomes frantic over my inability to recall the last time we did nose kisses! “How could I have just let that slip away without noticing?” I chastise myself. And then the BIG one, the overarching question: “What kind of mother am I?”
That question, asked of yourself with disdain, is a good indicator that you are not present, not in the now. For me, these thoughts come all at once, meaning that my momentary absence might be hardly recognizable to Nathan or anyone else. Except that I know Nathan absolutely does notice when this happens. But to my good fortune, there seems to be some guiding voice that has always been with me, that advises and gently nudges me in the direction of love. And that voice says to me in this moment: “It doesn’t matter when you stopped or when you started. It’s happening now.”
Teary eyed and grinning, I lean in and Nathan and I put our noses together and just say “Nose kisses!!” In our silly unison sing song voice. All judgment over letting the nose kisses slip away and all of the questions about what kind of parent I am just fall away. For a minute. And then…
“My mother called them Eskimo kisses. Why don’t I call them Eskimo kisses?” I think to myself as I give Nate a peck on the forehead and wish him a good night.
Often the questions we ask about ourselves lead to no good end, and when we look closely at these questions we can see that they are shame disguising itself as a friend. And if we happen to have a harsh internal critic alongside our kind voice from the now, the question “Why?” is particularly of no use. I no longer need to ask myself “Why?” because how can “why” matter? How can “Why?” be a useful question if it doesn’t matter “when”? Right now. Look at right now. Right now, we are good.
“Look how cozy he is right now. How much comfort we enjoy! So many blankies!” I think to myself and I remind myself how much worse it could be.
And as I reach the door to leave his room, I feel a surge of… I don’t know how to explain it…comfort, can do it, confidence, knowing.
“I got this!” I whisper-cheer, pumping my fist in the air as I leave the room.
I think I just didn’t want to explain what an Eskimo is so I went with nose kisses instead.
When you find yourself ruminating, try getting into the present moment. One way that I like to do this is to ask myself “Is there something I can do about this problem/thought right now?” If not, let it go. If so, move into action. I find it hard to over think with this method because I will be moving into action if there is any action to be taken, and action happens now. Counting my blessings helps a lot too!