Over Thinking: The Modern Stress Response to Fear

Over Thinking: The Modern Stress Response to Fear

Think about the times you’ve laid in bed thinking about every angle to a problem when you want to be sleeping, or the moments when you know that you’ve found the right solution but you continue to look for another, or time spent calling numerous friends on the phone to see how they would handle a problem rather than trusting your instincts. These patterns of over thinking or “over-exploring” are stressful. They feel uncontrollable and cause pause as someone wonders why they can’t just stop and trust themselves.

Anxiety and stress are activated in the oldest part of our brains. This part of the brain is important since it sends the message to our body to either fight, flight, or freeze when we sense fear. In modern times this part of our brain is not just triggered when our physical self is threatened (such as in a car accident), but can be highly active and fire in the strangest situations. In my Silver Lake/Los Feliz counseling practice I’ve learned that “over-thinking” a situation is also a response to fear. Maybe it is fear about how someone will think of us, or fear that we will fail, or fear that we will loose a relationship. Often times the reason why someone is scared (or even the awareness that they are actually scared), is not within conscious reach. These times are even more challenging since identifying the thoughts underneath our “over-thinking” can give us the relief we deserve.

Many people feel overwhelmed by their stress and have convinced themselves that change is not possible. But I have seen that psychotherapy can help slow someone down. It can help a person understand what is happening inside so they feel more control, and well, just better.

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