From Darkness to Light: How to Stop Overthinking and Start Loving Yourself

The journey to self-acceptance

Joy does not emerge from a fight against our darkness, our problems, our overthinking and our imperfections. Freedom only comes from an unconditional acceptance of reality, and discovering a trust in our own basic goodness (yes, you really have this). Inner peace develops as we learn to become true, loyal and loving friends to ourselves, no matter what kind of negative, repetitive or intrusive thoughts our minds produce. In other words, we can’t stop overthinking until we start loving ourselves – unconditionally.

The image depicts a view from within a dense, dark forest with clinging vines and overhanging trees. A path leads to a warm, sunny, hopeful sunrise at the edge of the forest.
Light at the end of the tunnel

Navigating the Dark Forest of Overthinking and Anxiety

I often use metaphors in my work, so I offer this one in case it resonates for you. Overthinking, regret, shame and anxiety can feel like a dark and ominous forest in which you’re trapped with no way out. Perhaps you’ve been fighting valiantly with the clinging vines and sticky foliage of rumination to escape. You may have tried incredibly hard, longing to break through into the light, yet over and over you feel dragged backwards by familiar weeds. Showing up while living with such painful feelings takes huge energy and courage. Do you offer yourself generous and kind recognition for how hard you’ve tried?

Condemning ourselves while fighting the very problems which our own minds create drains us and keeps us stuck in this forest of doom. Our minds can produce endless thought loops and worries in which to get caught up, and struggling with them often just spawns more. Because we are fighting thoughts literally generated within our own minds, we are matched against an opponent who always knows our next move. Can you see how this is an unwinnable fight?

Breaking Free Of The Struggle

However, you can learn to put down the struggle and offer yourself unconditional compassion, love and acceptance. You can start to gently release the fruitless attempts to wish away the mistakes and hurts of the past, or to anxiously control the future. When you work out what is actually within your power, you may instead direct your energy towards the inner storehouse of resources which you can build in this moment. These emotional resources can offer you safe refuge, strength and resilience. They create something concrete to rely on, whatever the future holds.

Cultivating Self-Compassionate Tools for Self-Love and Healing

Although it can feel all-consuming, this constricting, dark forest is not all there is. And however lonely you feel right now, you are certainly not alone in experiencing painful feelings like these. If you’re not even sure how to begin to be kind to yourself, here are some self-talk (or EFT Tapping) prompts you could try. You might like to place a hand warmly over your heart, perhaps looking into your own eyes in a mirror as you speak them aloud.

  • I offer myself compassion for falling into this thinking trap and I acknowledge all the pain I’ve suffered while trying to set myself free.
  • I promise to become a good and loyal friend to myself, and to never abandon myself regardless of circumstances.
  • I take the risk of believing that I deserve compassion, no matter what, and I offer myself that kindness right now.
  • I recognise what is under my control, and I gently let go of all that is not.
  • I commit to moving towards positive qualities such as joy, compassion, acceptance, creativity, connection and love. I believe and know that these will become powerful resources for me no matter what the future holds.
  • When I drop the struggle, the light at the end of the tunnel is already there.
  • Thank you [insert your own name] for your courage and your good heart.
  • I love you.

If you’re searching for a counsellor to help you move forward with acceptance, courage and self-kindness, please reach out to me here.

you are worthy of love signage on brown wooden post
Photo by Tim Mossholder on