I used to believe I was cursed for my excessive emotions and constant overthinking, and there was no way out. Fortunately, in my mid-20s, I found a path to change my life completely. For several years now, I have been enjoying a lighter, more secure, and happier life, and I want to share my journey and how I did it.
My Life As An Anxious Overthinker
I’m an introvert. I’m also a Cancerian woman, one of the most emotional signs of the zodiac, which certainly describes me well. I couldn’t help but think and feel deeply. As a child, I was always scribbling. I had a blog and enjoyed writing about my experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
My mind was constantly active, and my unique family situation added to the complexity. I grew up separately from my two sisters, living with my grandparents while I stayed with my parents. My father, often absent and with a quick temper, had a significant impact on me. He was rarely available and highly critical of me. I felt unseen and denied, leading to the development of an anxious attachment style over time.
Throughout my teenage years and into my early 20s, anxiety took hold, intensifying my thoughts and emotions negatively. It was a painful existence, making it challenging to navigate daily life. In romantic relationships, I became needy, experiencing physical pain if I didn’t receive a prompt response from a date, and even suffering panic attacks after breakups. Every step in dating became a major ordeal. Social settings, including work and networking events, were fraught with self-doubt. I couldn’t interact confidently, always second-guessing myself. These constant overwhelming thoughts and emotions turned me into my own worst critic.
Living in the moment was a distant dream. Spontaneity was impossible, and I felt ashamed for even thinking and feeling anything at all. Society’s message that I needed to be the ‘cool girl,’ always composed and logical, only added to the pressure. I attempted to suppress my emotions, but it ultimately backfired, leaving me feeling like I was losing control. The result? Failed relationships. Before embarking on my healing journey, I had never had a relationship beyond a few months.
Low self-esteem plagued me as I felt like I had to be someone I wasn’t. Being myself seemed wrong. I believed my emotional and thoughtful nature was flawed. I felt worthless.
When I dated avoidant people, I bought into their perspectives, believing their way was right while mine was wrong. Despite my efforts to fix myself, I couldn’t do it.
How I Started To Heal
My journey towards healing began with accepting myself, no matter how different I felt or how much I deviated from society’s norms. I needed to tell myself it was okay to be who I was. It was valid. I was valid. There was no right or wrong way to be. I had to embrace self-compassion and self-acceptance.
I learned that when my thoughts and feelings overwhelmed me, causing mental distress, it was because I didn’t feel safe, and I needed my own attention. I had to soothe myself and be present for my own emotional needs. Through this journey, I reconnected with myself, validating my thoughts and emotions and acknowledging their worth instead of dismissing them. My emotional depth and thoughtfulness were valuable assets in my creative and interpersonal life. I had to remind myself that it was okay to be this way.
Surprisingly, as I embraced my true self, my thoughts and emotions found balance. I no longer spiraled into panic. It became manageable. I realised the importance of understanding my limits and allowing space for my thoughts and emotions. I accepted that even as I healed, I would always have a rich inner world. The key was not to take over my life. I needed to be in control, to know how to express myself, where to express myself, and how to use my inner world to improve my life.
I learned to recognise signs of when my thoughts and emotions became harmful: obsessing over the past, dwelling on past mistakes, inability to move on from a past relationship, and clinging to unhealthy partnerships, even in thoughts and emotions.
5 Practical Tips To Stop Overthinking Or Obsessing Over The Past And Start Living And Enjoying Your Present.
1. Accept yourself.
You need to make space for your feelings and emotions however much they feel in the moment. It’s all okay.
Self-compassion and acceptance will help calm you down and signal to yourself that you are safe, you’re tending to yourself now. Then you’ll realise that these emotions and thoughts can’t hurt you. They’re the products of your brain. There’s no real danger in your physical life, so you can let the thoughts and emotions come and go.
2. Build a relationship and reason with yourself.
When you obsess over your past, there tends to be a way of thinking that keeps you there. For example, if you had done this one thing differently, your ex would still be with you today.
Be kind and patient with yourself and love yourself enough to know that the present is a better place to be. Then talk to yourself like you’re your own best friend and explain to yourself that even if you had done that one thing differently, the outcome would likely still be the same because myriad factors can affect a relationship’s outcome.
Tell yourself these reminders so that you can stay calm and focus on the present, and do that, again and again, whenever there is a line of thinking that interrupts your daily life and brings you back to the past. You must untangle it and show yourself another way with love and patience.
3. Improve the conditions of your life.
It’s very hard to be calm, collected, and carefree when there’s so much uncertainty and unknown, and many sources of anxiety constantly in your life.
For example, dating apps, meeting random people, and using substances — all the things that can make your anxiety your overthinking your emotions more negative.
Build healthy habits and make sure that your life is as stable as it can be because this is the period for you to assert as much control as you can in any aspect of your life that you can so that you’ll have enough support for when your thoughts and emotions go out of your control. You can lean back on other aspects of your life and keep yourself grounded.
If everything in your life is chaotic, there will be nothing for you to hold on to to pull yourself out, and it can get very dangerous. Prioritise security. Every action you take should move towards that. Doing exercises, meditating, journaling… all the things that can help you stay calm, be present, and have a healthier life.
4. Cognitive behavioral changes.
For example, drawing boundaries with yourself when you find yourself obsessing over the past or thinking about something that you don’t want to be thinking about. Catch yourself there, and divert your thoughts.
An easy way to do it is to name your thoughts and emotions, call them out, repeat them to yourself, write them down, and replace them with more positive ones.
5. Fill your lives with all the things that you love and bring you joy.
These things will help you get used to being present and living forward. They give you something to be excited about. They make you realise that your present is better than your past.
Embrace your gifts
I hope you can be kind to yourself and know that your emotions, your thoughts, your empathy, and your depth are your gifts and you must embrace them.
They will lead you to the right things and the right people in your life — those who appreciate you for the way you are, those who see the world in the same way that you do, those who don’t even think your emotions and thoughts are too much at all, those who might even think and feel more than you.
Together, your combined insights transcend the ordinary, enabling transformative impacts. You can make others feel less lonely, you can show different perspectives, and you can heal others.
Don’t give up on yourself, and keep nurturing yourself and your gifts.
My life has transformed significantly in recent years, all because of the love I’ve cultivated for myself. I feel accepted and truly seen. My emotional fluctuations and intensity from my early 20s have diminished. I still allow myself to be who I am, but naturally, I am more calm and collected. I feel no need to prove anything; I can simply enjoy the present.
One significant reason for this transformation is the stability that comes with age. As I passed my mid-20s, many aspects of my life settled down. If you’re in your early 20s now, don’t worry too much. It will get better. If you follow these steps, take care of yourself, and improve your life’s conditions, things will stabilise, and you’ll naturally be drawn to people who are also calm and collected.
Value these traits because they will guide you to a better place.