18 - Breaking the Cycle of Overthinking Plus Strategies and Tools for Managing Your Thoughts with Kim Witten
In this episode, I have a wonderful conversation with transformational coach Kim Witten. Kim shares her interesting career path in which she worked as a graphic designer, a marketing professional, a linguist, a data analyst, and a web developer, then moved into UX research and design, all with the common thread of learning more about people and their behaviors.
As a transformational coach, Kim helps her clients discover their why and helps them achieve their full potential. We talk about the benefits of working with a coach and how a coach can help us overcome a lifetime of limiting beliefs.
Kim shares her coaching philosophy and her unique approach to helping her clients reach their potential.
Learn about the difference between overthinkers and deep thinkers.
Kim helps us see both from a new helpful perspective
Getting unstuck can happen in a single moment and the whole world opens up to us as we get unblocked.
Kim shares the behaviors and thought patterns that get in our way and can trip us up such as future tripping and overthinking and strategies to prevent the negative effects that can happen.
Learn about rumination and how it is different from overthinking
Naming the part of ourselves that becomes anxious and overthinks is a good way to identify it and deal with it when it shows up.
Kim shares a self-discovery challenge to learn about your wants and how to identify the ones that matter the most. It's a tough but rewarding challenge. You don't want to miss it!
Simplfying Coaching by Claire Pedrick
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski
Connect with Kim
Website - https://witten.kim/lowfidelity
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
About Kim Witten
Kim has spent over four decades overthinking absolutely everything and has become an expert in analyzing behavior and communication.
With 20+ years of human-centered design experience, a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics, and an accredited diploma in Transformational Coaching, she helps overwhelmed creatives become Strategic Expert Thinkers™ in all that they do.
From career changers to change-makers, she’s supported people from all over the globe to master their mindset, build their resilience and feel more confident, so that they can create the life they really want and reach their high-impact potential.
Kim Witten: You know, the thought patterns that we have that are maybe not helpful or they're destructive or even, you know, sabotaging in some way that can lead us to procrastination or perfectionism, imposter feelings, or just the lack of confidence and it's perpetuating that lack of confidence. So all of those things can lead to overthinking or be the cause of or, you know, goes in kind of both directions, right?
They're deeply worn grooves that we're used to traveling down.
Rizwan: Hi, I'm Rizwan. Welcome to Unleash Your Mindset, a podcast where I talk to creatives to learn actionable strategies that can help you achieve your creative potential. In each episode, my guests also share a listener challenge to help you take action and make a positive change in your life right away. Today my guest is transformational coach and research consultant Kim Whitten.
Kim is an amazing person, creator, and coach. The personal development insights she shares in her newsletter and on LinkedIn and on her website have helped me tremendously, to overcome some of the challenges that I face on a regular basis. In our conversation, we learn about Kim's winding career path that led her to her passion now, which is helping her clients realize their potential Through her transformational coaching practice, Kim shares a lot of insights on doing what you love overthinking, and I know overthinking is something that I could use more help with.
And so I'm really glad I had this conversation with Kim and also just showing up and being your best. oh yeah. One more thing. You wanna stay till the end for Kim's listener challenge. It's a powerful challenge to help you with your self-discovery. I don't want to give away too much. So let's get to the conversation.
Welcome to the show.
Kim Witten: Thank you, Rizwan. It's a pleasure to be here. And I've spent, so I've spent over four decades overthinking absolutely everything. So I know the ways that this persistent thought can steal your time, your energy, your motivation, all of that. And I've taken everything I've learned over the years.
I've had many different careers tried many different things. I consider myself what's called a multi-passionate creative. And I've taken everything I've learned. And through all of that trial and error and some successes along the way I've decided to become a transformational coach. I left my corporate job about a year ago.
Where I was doing UX design and UX research and customer experience as well research, and so it's been a long journey and I've taken everything I've learned along the way to now help other people with their overthinking, turning their overthinking into expert thinking and as you said, reach their full potential.
Rizwan: It's really interesting to hear your journey going from UX research, UX design to now coaching, and, you know, you talked about multi-passionate creator. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Kim Witten: Yeah, so that's the type of person who has many different interests and talents and likes to explore different things.
They usually maybe change careers a lot. And it's this idea of being a jack of many trades, jack of all trades. And sometimes you do end up becoming a master of one or several. But I think for me, there was a struggle for a long time trying to figure out, do I need to choose something or do I need to pick something?
Or, you know, why am I getting dissatisfied with this one thing, or I'll explore something for a year or a couple years and then change over to something else. And so it's taken a long time, I think, for me to get comfortable with this idea of this is part of who I am, and that's completely okay.
Rizwan: Yeah, that's an interesting place to arrive at because a lot of times we get so impatient with what we're doing that we wanna see results and we wanna see progress. You were patient enough to try different things and see, you know, and all those things added up to where you are now.
They were like stepping stones to get to this point. And you, so you've discovered what your, you know, your passion and brought along all those skills that you learned along the way. How has your journey helped you where you are now?
Kim Witten: Yeah, I think for a long time I was trying these different career paths and I was very much into everything I was doing. And it was almost like I was circling my why, like the why, the reason why I was doing what I do was in there, but I was not quite at the center of it. And so I was trying all these different things and you know, maybe on different you know, further away from that center or not, or different parts of this sphere, if we're imagining concentric circles or something like that.
And I wasn't seeing how they were connected, and I wasn't getting at what was at the center. And I feel like what I've found now is finally closer to that center and I can draw upon all these different experiences. And what that center was, if I can elaborate on that for a minute, was, you know I had a.
A career path where I started off as a graphic designer and I got into marketing and then I became a linguist and I studied that in academia to the Ph.D. level. And then I ran screaming from academia cuz it wasn't a good fit for me. And I became a data analyst and a web developer for a couple of years was a terrible fit for me.
I remember furrowed brow in front of my monitors And was this very glossy monitor, so sometimes I would catch myself in the reflection, you know, staring with this furrowed brow and this very confused face. And it was just staring right back at me that this wasn't a good fit for me. But I persevered.
And I also then got into UX research, UX design what I realized through all of that was there was always this interest in understanding the motivation of what makes people tick, you know, what they're interested in, how communication works. And I realized that what I could actually do was cut the products and services out of the equation and just go to the people directly to help them.
It was almost like UX for people, you know, improving their u user experience. So it wasn't in the service of, you know, maybe the company I was working for and the product that they were trying to sell, but actually the people that I was interviewing and, you know what were they trying to do with their lives?
And so I was able to then transition all of those skills that I picked up along the way. into a career in coaching, which is now what I do, is helping people figure out their p full potential, figure out their why and overcome those obstacles. And essentially what I ended up doing was becoming the person that I needed to be, or that I needed back then maybe, you know, 3, 5, 10 years ago.
Rizwan: You know we build upon those skills as we go through life and we collect those skills. And even though we don't know what the end result will be, we, you know, pick up these skills, and I believe life has a way of showing us what we need to be doing. So, as you are going through the different prayers, you are picking up the skills that you needed to get, to be able to be a great coach.
Kim Witten: Now, I think that says something interesting about you touching on that idea of being stuck. , right? Yeah. And when we're stuck, we feel like it's gonna last forever. That's part of what the experience of being stuck is. But what we may not realize is that getting unstuck could be in the next moment, you know,
It's just we don't know that yet when we're in the stuck part. And then, you know, some insight comes along or some idea or something that helps us unstuck, and all of a sudden we're out of the muck place.
Rizwan: Yeah. That's it's interesting that you know, it's just it's in our head, you know, like you said, you can be unstuck in the next moment, but it is not that you went out and spent a lot of money, or you did something big, it was just your perspective.
that you changed, and so that, you know, like everybody has that ability, but sometimes being stuck feels like this is your reality, that you're not getting out of this. And, you know then that overthinking and, you know, it leads down to a downward spiral and all that. But it's interesting that it's all in our head, you know, all that we think, and, you know, we can change things.
It takes time and effort and serious work, but it is it's all in our minds.
Kim Witten: Yeah. And I still get stuck, right? Yeah. The journey and the struggle isn't over. Yeah. Yeah. You know, there are challenges all along the way in this past year especially.
Rizwan: Yeah. It's a, it takes, yeah, it's a lifetime journey. Cause we're, you know, learning what ourselves we're still dealing with. Different types of challenges and maybe bigger challenges than we had before, but it's all part of the journey of learning and growth. I'm curious, did you have a coach as you were going through your journey
I didn't have a coach and I didn't even understand what a coach was or that there were things like coaches or mentors or even trainers that can help you with these types of challenges. And I sure needed one, right? I think everybody can use a coach. Of course, I'm biased that's part of the thing that I needed, you know, especially around five, six years ago when I was really struggling to make sense of many things.
Even, it was only even a couple of years ago that I started listening to coaching podcasts, and I've always been interested in personal development and self-help topics, but this idea of coaching and figuring out what it was and listening to these podcasts and how you could take these concepts and then, and these insights and then become your own coach.
And I thought that was really interesting and that the timing of that kind of coincided with what I was doing in UX research with listening and interviewing people and understanding motivation and looking at data. . And so I started to this idea started to percolate of, you know, maybe I can make a career out of this and along the way help myself and, you know, apply these lessons.
I think I heard once a couple of years ago this idea of you're only as good a coach as you coach yourself, you know, or as you receive those kinds of coaching insights. So the work is ongoing always.
Rizwan: Yeah. Before I started with my own coach I thought coaching was something for the elites.
You know, people who had a lot of money and you know, whether they're athletes or performers those were the people who got coaches. It wasn't for the general public. But then I got to a point where I realized maybe it is available for me, and so why not see, you know, just try it out?
And I'm glad I tried it out and you know, it completely changed my thinking and helped me get over a lot of my own limiting beliefs and things that I was carrying with me. I'm also a big believer in coaching, you know with any part of our life, we can use it because sometimes you need that external voice, you know, letting you know what the reality is.
Because we've been living with our internal voice for so long, we think, you know, that is reality. But sometimes we need to check somebody to check our thoughts.
Kim Witten: And just that space to be able to talk freely, a non-judgmental space to talk as long as you want without that scarcity.
It's, you know, it's very different from a meeting where, you know, everybody's vying to get a word in, or you have got a time limit. And so coaching conversations are very unusual types of conversations. You know, unusual ways of speaking with people or communicating with people where it's really in the service of one person's thinking and allowing them to think out loud and to reach their own conclusions and insights and having that space and that can just be so reflective and energizing and nourishing and healing and all sorts of good things that we all need, even if we may not realize that we need those experiences.
Rizwan: I think that's a great point. You just need somebody there to listen to you and then check your thoughts, and challenge you. And give you that other perspective that you meant you just can't, haven't developed. You know, so I, I think it's everybody needs a co, everybody can use a coach where, you know, in any part of their life to achieve their goals.
Yeah, agreed. Love to hear about your coaching philosophy and, you know, your approach to coaching.
Kim Witten: There's a book that I absolutely love about coaching, and it's called Simplifying Coaching by Claire Pedrick. And she, I really align with her philosophy and she says that coaching, yeah, I'm paraphrasing here, but coaching is simply a conversation between two.
Two people in the service of helping one of, you know, focus on one person to help them think and to think more clearly. And I really can get behind that idea. And just allowing people to think for themselves and enabling that. I feel like we often say in the coaching industry that people are creative, resourceful, and whole.
So meaning that people have all the resources they need and there's nothing that needs fixing. They're not broken. , right? And they can find creative ways to solve the challenges that they have themselves. So coaching isn't about me telling you what's wrong or giving advice. It's helping you understand what it is that you need to do for yourself.
Because I could, you know, I can make an assumption and think, oh, I can see what the problem is there. I can see what needs fixing here. Here's my idea. But that may be completely wrong, right? Or that may, you know, it could work, but it might not be the best solution for you. You know what's best for you.
So you're the expert in your own life. I'm the expert in the process of coaching, of helping you get to those answers that you need.
Rizwan: Just thinking about my experience with my coach, just seeing how you know he wasn't prescriptive and telling me what to do. It was more about like you said, asking questions and making me think you know, come up with ways to solve a problem instead of handholding or, you know, showing, telling me what's wrong. But that's a, you know, that's a skill in itself is to not want, not wanting to jump in and try to fix everything but letting the individual come up with their own solution. And so they take ownership of their life and they build up those skills they need to help them continue improving.
Yeah, exactly. One topic that is really big and I know you talk about a lot is overthinking. From my experience, I've done that my whole life, and I can see how it got me into a lot of trouble and a lot of pain, a lot of inner struggle. Can you share more about overthinking and how it shows up?
Kim Witten: Yeah. So as a lifelong overthinker, myself it can show up in all sorts of ways that we maybe don't even realize. And I think when I was younger, it was a lot of rumination, you know, pouring over experiences in my mind, replaying things, and showed up as perfectionism as well, which then would sometimes lead me into procrastination or other unhelpful behaviors, just because I was so caught up in my own thinking and social anxiety and lots of those patterns that weren't serving myself very well.
I read this article a while back on, on Medium by this marketing guy who's a prolific writer on medium, Jenna Le Ru. And he talked about the difference between overthinkers and deep thinkers. And he had this thought that Overthinkers were driven by. Anxiety, whereas deep thinkers, were driven by curiosity, and I took this idea, overthought it for some time and I just really started playing with this idea and wrote a longer piece based around this really expanding on these aspects of it. So the premise is that actually when I looked at it, overthinking, And deep thinking or expert thinking. Other forms of more productive thought are really the same skillset, right?
Yeah. It's just anxiety is driving the overthinking and curiosity is driving these more productive forms of thought, cuz o all the overthinkers I know are really good at maybe staying focused and tenacious about a particular topic, right? When they're in that rumination mode, they're really good at analyzing things.
They're really good at projecting all the future scenarios that could happen. You know, if you could take all of these skills and channel them to better use, you would end up with, you know, some really powerful stuff. So then the question becomes, okay, how do you shift an anxiety mindset to a curiosity mindset?
And once we can start doing that, then we're starting to unlock some of this potential and taking that, that overthinking energy and that thought and applying it in much better ways for ourselves. So we resolve some of the problems that, you know, maybe if we're stuck in rumination and we're seeking, you know, some answer and some conversation that we just had, we can start to get at the heart of, okay, what is that answer?
What do you know, what was that unmet need? Resolve that, and we can start applying that same thought energy to maybe external problems or solving kind of bigger problems in the world or for ourselves and taking our mission or our passions further.
Rizwan: Wow, that's really interesting. You're using the same muscles, the same techniques you need for the curiosity mindset, for the deep thinking as you are when you're overthinking with an anxiety mindset. Yeah. I think the key would be to understand why you're approaching with an anxiety mindset. Maybe some, what are some of the big reasons that, you know, anxiety shows up instead of curiosity. Yeah. Is that just because we haven't learned to shift our mindset from one to the other or are there other reasons?
Kim Witten: Yeah I think there are all sorts of things. that can happen. It can be the way we're raised or the messages from our culture. It can be you know, if we have a predisposition to anxiety or, you know, or traumas as well, you know, things that, patterns that we've learned and things that we've picked up along the way or things that we're still processing and working through that can show up in all sorts of ways.
All of these patterns and all of the habits that we have that reinforce, that, reinforce those limiting beliefs. You know, it's an interaction between the things we think and then the actions we take. You know, the thought patterns that we have that are maybe not helpful or they're destructive or even, you know, sabotaging in some way that can lead us to procrastination or perfectionism, imposter feelings or just the lack of confidence and it's perpetuating that lack of confidence.
So all of those things can lead to Overthinking or be the cause of or, you know, goes in kind of both directions, right? They're deeply worn grooves that we're used to traveling down.
Rizwan: Yeah. I think this thought pattern, is the perfect example of why or why you need a, you may need a coach because those grooves are so deep that you just need some help, you know, getting out of those groups and getting your thinking into the curiosity.
Kim Witten: You know, as you said, we, we all have it in us. It's just, you know, bringing it out and getting out of those grooves, getting past those all old behaviors and the mindsets and all the conditioning that we've had in our life.
To undo all of that so that, you know, we can become deep thinkers and have that freedom to go for anything we want instead of being held back by our thoughts, thought patterns that have held us back. Yeah, and those shifts that kind of getting out of that groove Yeah. It can be, like we were talking about earlier, with getting unstuck.
It can be a moment, or it can be an insight or realization where we see something differently in a way that we didn't before or didn't have access to, and then all of a sudden we understand where we are and how we got here, and we can maybe even start to see the way out or see a different way of doing something and go, oh yeah, , that makes sense now.
And it's just very clear. . .
Rizwan: Yeah. That moment of insight, you're like, wow, like my whole life I was thinking like this and this one moment has just completely unlocked. everything for me. And I've had kinda couple of those moments in my coaching sessions and it, it's just amazing how, you know, it's just everything becomes open and possible.
Where before everything was dark and you know, there's no way out, and I think that's just fascinating how one, from one moment to the next, it can be completely different
Kim Witten: Yeah. Can you think of a moment?
Rizwan: Yeah. I think just in this, as I started this podcast after I think six or seven episodes, I stopped cause I was focused on something completely different.
You know, the editing. Like that completely tripped me up and I'm like, oh, I don't wanna do it anymore. It's just too much. But then I think then as I was talking to my coach, he reminded me of, you know, why I started connected me with my why, connecting back and just that moment and like a switch and I hit, and I'm like yeah, you know, that's what I love to do and let me do it again.
Yeah. And so I continued and, you know, even like reaching out to somebody new, like like before it seems such a big challenge and intimidating, you know, there's the social anxiety that happens. But once you change your perspective that, you know, they're just humans and they're just they're all, they're just like you with the insecurities and their own challenges.
You know, it changes your perspective, and things become easier. Yeah. So it's, I think it's finding those moments and understanding, you know, you know, identifying when those limiting beliefs happen. You know, I'm not able to do this and why, and digging into it, I think that's where that coaching can help.
And you know it, can do it on your own, but, you know, I think it's just good to dig into those moments as well.
Kim Witten: Yeah. I think that speaks to that sweet spot of like comfort and support versus challenge, right? You need. , you need enough comfort and support so that well, so that you feel comfortable and safe and open to be able to share these ideas and play around with things, you know, all that psychological safety.
But if there's too much comfort, there's no change, right? So there's, there doesn't need to be too much support cuz then you're taking too much responsibility for somebody, or you're doing the work for them. You're doing the thinking for them, right? And conversely, you need enough challenge that they're pushed to, to make a change.
You know, if you're provoking people's thoughts or offering a question that makes. Look at something differently or pointing out something that they, you know, a pattern that maybe they haven't noticed before or whatever it is. But you don't want it to be too challenging. Sure. Because then that's unco, it's so uncomfortable that you can't handle it.
It's confrontational in an unhelpful way. And then, of course, there's no change when we're too challenged when things are too difficult, it's, that becomes its own hurdle. So it's finding that balance with anything really.
Rizwan: Yeah. So you've talked about on your blog about, you know, things that I, that get in our own way, so there's a list of 10 different things. What are some of the top things that you've experienced or that you've seen that get in our way that in our way of overthinking and not doing, you know, not being free to do what we want? I think there's definitely a big one is way that overthinking can complicate things.
Kim Witten: And so we start future tripping. We start imagining all of all the possible scenarios about what they'll think when they read this email, and we start rereading the email, and we don't send the email, and we edit the email. Or even when we do send it, we go back and reread it. And now that we've sent it, we imagine from their perspective, no, that's out in the world.
You know, what do they think of this email? , right? And then you think, oh, should I send a follow-up email? You know, that part wasn't clear, and now I've said too much. Lemme take that back. Lemme recall that email.
Yeah, exactly. And then will they see that I recalled the email? You know, you get all of these things right around, especially like with WhatsApp messaging or text messaging, and you know, they haven't seen the two ticks, you know, whatever it is, right?
And that can really get in the way of our productivity, our self-belief, and our confidence. All of these things. You know the key is to slow down and understand what's going on at that moment. And there are lots of different strategies you can choose, okay, I'm going to indulge myself in this, you know, checking, but I'm only gonna do it for a minute, , and then I'm gonna go find some other strategy tactic, activity to do. Yeah. But understanding, you know where is that coming from? Getting curious around these ideas and befriending, okay, this is the part of myself that is really anxious about something. Yeah. You know, what does she need right now?
Rizwan: Yeah. That's it's interesting that that's a topic that I, that's been on my mind lately, is mind reading. being in somebody else's mind. Like recently, most recently, it happened where I needed to schedule a meeting with one of my managers, and I started thinking, you know, what's the best time for her to meet?
And I, it, there's some good aspects to it, but then overthinking, you know, maybe I shouldn't meet on a Monday cause she's busy and maybe it's Tuesday or then Okay. You know, you can go down that rabbit hole. And by the time you're done, you know, the meetings on Friday or next week or, you know.
Right. just overthinking or you've missed it. . Yeah. And or just so much reading into somebody else's mind. Yeah. And their experience and what they're going, what's happening. But I realized I just need to. Was set that meeting and let them decide what they need to do instead of me deciding for them. That's one lesson I learned is because I did schedule, I ended up scheduling for a Wednesday and but then she changed it to Monday and so so that kinda woke me up you know, just schedule it and don't think, don't overthink this. Easier said than done. Yeah. and people will surprise you. You never know what they're thinking. Yeah. You never gonna know unless they tell you.
Kim Witten: Sure. And so you might as well, again, easier said than done. Yeah. Yeah. Do what works for you. Yeah. You know? Yeah. And if you have information about what might work better for them, you can act upon that. Yeah. But if you don't. , it's, you just have no way of knowing. Yeah. What's that phrase? There's a quote somewhere, I forget who said it, but it's what other people think of you as none of your business?
Kim Witten: I need to find out who said that. We'll go back and add that in. But, you know, and what other people think of you as really, it's not about them, it's about what? It's a worry about yourself. It's a wish about what you want people to think or what you're afraid that they might think about you.
Rizwan: Yeah. Sure. So there, there's definitely an opportunity to dive into that and to understand why are you overthinking this for, you know? You know, maybe there's just, maybe you need to communicate more, maybe the, whatever needs to happen. Something to dive into. You talked about rumination.
Can you talk about what does that look like?
Kim Witten: Yeah. So rumination is typically about something that's already happened. Okay. It's about the past. Whereas overthinking can be about the future or a, yeah. A kind of, maybe even more generalized anxiety. And I'll add too that anxiety is only possible because of our ability to think about the future.
If we couldn't think about that, if we wouldn't have that. At least not to that, to the degree that we do. But yeah. Rumination is that kind of like circular thinking about something that's already happened, and we're like really swimming in it. And I think of the etymology of.
rumination comes from ruminates, which are those animals that chew their cut, that kind of regurgitate their food through several stomachs, which is very gross when you think about it. But it also these metaphors, right? They lend some truth to the, I was gonna say flavor, which is a terrible, terrible word to choose in this context.
But, to our sense of what rumination feels like for us. Yeah. This kind of like icky overprocessing of thought, you know, this circular
Rizwan: thinking. And what would you suggest as a way to stop nomination with, within your experience?
Kim Witten: Yeah. think from almost all of these things; it's raising awareness around what is going on at a broader level.
You know what. What is the unmet need? When you're in a cycle of thought, and you're really going through a conversation that you've had with somebody, and you're repeating parts of it in your head, you're probably searching for something, right? And it's usually something like reassurance or, you know, maybe you did something that was unfamiliar or uncomfortable for you or new for you.
And so you're having that, what I call a vulnerability hangover. So that's like after, and I think that the idea comes from Brene Brown. I think she coined this phrase of a vulnerability hangover. It's like when you've done something that's new or different or, you know, whatever it is. So it might be a conversation or a presentation.
whatever, and you feel exposed, you feel vulnerable after it. So you have that kind of reckoning with yourself. And there might, you know, there may be nothing that was wrong, Sure. You know, nothing to point to you. Just having that feeling. And from that, there might be a need for something, just a need to feel comfort or reassurance or feeling clarity about what you're doing or confident about what you're doing or that somebody likes you or values you.
There's probably some need in there, something that you care about. Sometimes just understanding that exists. . Yeah. And what that allows you to accept it and befriend it and just go, okay, yeah, I get that. And possibly, is there a way I could actively go get this either from this situation or from something else?
Rizwan: From my experience when you talked about presentation, I usually have, my usual reaction is, why did I say that to, you know like it's just, you know, I'll use the word cringe, my performance. I think it does go back to, you said it could be different reasons, but like confidence, you know, who you are and your skills and you know, so it takes a lot of work to uncover that and you know, come to terms with it.
Cause I like what you said to, to realize that this is what's happening, to own it and identify it, and, but then move on and, you know, you know, just own it as part of your experience and a learning opportunity to try something different next time or To see why it happened and, you know, maybe change it for next time.
Kim Witten: Yeah. There's a trick that master coach Kara Lowenthal uses that she calls. This is the part where, okay, so this is the part where I'm just feeling really bad about myself, about that presentation or that email I sent and that idea of this is the part where allows you to just get some distance from the situation, allows you to characterize it and be like okay, I'm in the story , you know, this is the part of the story where, and it won't always, you won't always be in that part of the story , right?
It's that part, this part, this is the part where is all part of a larger piece. So having that perspective is okay, it won't always be like this .
Rizwan: That's a good point. I like that this is, you know, just reminding yourself that this is a part where, You know, I'm going to cringe about my performance
Kim Witten: Yeah.
Rizwan: But then, you know, then, but then go in as to why it happened and then improve it for next time. Yeah. So I guess it's a good subtle reminder that this is going to happen, and don't get overly anxious or don't let it derail from giving a presentation or, you know, running away from it to face up to it and make the best.
Kim Witten: Yeah. Because it doesn't define you. It's not, that is not the thing that people are gonna point to and be like, that is all of you. Yeah. That typifies you to a t Everything about that is so you, like even you don't think that you're like, oh, that wasn't me.
Rizwan: In our mind, we think that other people will think, this is who I'm like, this is how much, this is my experience, this is my ability.
This represents me and totality. Yeah. That's the those are, I think those are the thoughts that are going through my mind at that time. Curbing those thoughts as it happens. think that's where, this is the part where can help when you're Yeah. . Okay. This is the part where I'm going to do some overthinking, and Yeah.
And it's okay. It has happened, and, you know move on.
Kim Witten: Yeah. And it just allows you to befriend that part of you, and Yeah. And accept it and just go, yeah. Okay. There I go again.
Rizwan: Yeah, I like that word, befriend. And so it's not a there's the inner critic that shows up then there's the, you know, befriending the part that, you know the behavior or the common thought pattern that comes up.
That this is part of me right now, and because I think we all have these thought gremlins, right? Yeah. You know, we might all have the inner critic. I one of my thought gremlins is called, I called it dread Buddy, and Dread buddy shows up in the, maybe the hours or even the day before a meeting or a presentation and just fills me with dread and anxiousness.
Kim Witten: It's like an en energy vampire, right? This dread buddy. But once I named it Yeah. And almost Anth anthropomorphized it and made it a part that just nowadays dread Buddy shows up if or when they show up. Yeah. And it's oh, dread Buddy's here. Okay, you need to sit quietly today cuz I've got some work to do.
Rizwan: Oh, I love that. Naming it makes it more, more real. Like you can wrap your head around it. You can deal with it easily when you name something and, yeah, I think some people even say to draw out your inner critic, you know? Oh, it's a great idea to even just put a face to it.
I don't know what mine would look like, but . But that could be, that's an interesting exploration. Yeah.
Kim Witten: I'm not a that skilled artist. But, you can give it a go.
Rizwan: What came to mind was those, you know, Dolls that they have, you know, you can stick a pin in.
Kim Witten: Oh, I forgot the name of it now. I thought you were gonna say Garbage Pale Kids.
Oh. Do you remember those cards when we were, yeah? If your buddy looks like that. Yeah.
All those thought gremlins. Yeah. That's, you know, finding whatever ways to bring in your curiosity, your humor, you know to make things a little bit easier and lighter for yourself.
You know, whether that's a drawing or a naming something, or even just a metaphor, you know, what's it like, you know what's the construct that it reminds you of? You know, another thing that that like I mentioned you know, connecting with our why are we doing something?
Rizwan: That could be a powerful way to overcome some of this, you know, the dread that we feel. Yeah. To understand. from what we're trying to achieve and connect with that instead of the anxiety part where oh, I have a I have a presentation next week. What am I going to do? But focus on the positive aspects of it, of where you're trying to go.
What are you trying to achieve and how this is step, step in that direction. Yeah.
Kim Witten: I always encourage my clients, people I work with , everybody I know really to come up with compel, what I call compelling reasons for all of the work that you do. So if you've got a project or an activity or even your mission, you know, why is that important to you?
So a compelling reason is usually a one sentence statement that reminds you. of your why for this thing. You know, why is that important? And that will really help you when things get hard, when you're stuck, when you're losing the motivation, you should be able to read that compelling reason, and it's gonna motivate you just at least a little bit.
And if it doesn't at all, then it's probably not your compelling reason or it's not compelling enough. And we can all find compelling reasons for the things. It's helpful for things like, for example, doing your taxes. We think we don't wanna do our taxes and we don't. It's a tedious job, right?
I dislike it so much, but ultimately we do wanna do it. You know, like we wanna be compliant with, you know, we don't wanna get in trouble, , we don't wanna pay the fines, right? So in there is some sort of compelling reason, some sort of thing that can remind you of at least that, right? That's gonna motivate you to be like, all right.
Gotta do it. . I'm a professional. . Yeah. This challenge. , especially if we're stuck in an unhelpful groove. Yeah. If we're down in the ditch and then we're like, you know, it just feels dark and endless. We're stuck again, having that compelling reason is like, all right, okay. This is the part where I'm in the ditch
This is manageable though, and I'm, I remember why I'm doing this and that's gonna help me persevere.
Rizwan: Yeah. It's speaking about the ditch, like when you're down you know you're off, off the horse, you're falling down , you know, how do you realize, like what you need to do to get out of it?
Is that a muscle you just have to develop over time or is there some other technique besides the compelling reason to get outta that funk that you're in?
Kim Witten: I think it's gonna be. different for everybody, but also there's probably gonna be some commonalities, right?
One is feeling your feelings, right? , we can't ignore our feelings and all of this, you know they're oh, it's from that book Burnout, this idea of feelings are tunnels. You gotta go through them. . And so I think that's a key part of that is feeling your feelings, honoring your feelings, and accepting your thoughts.
And that acceptance that, that starts with noticing. Okay. And just bringing some awareness. And sometimes I think there's a process to this, so especially if you're new to any of This kind of thought work and managing your thoughts and mind and all this self-improvement of personal development is the first phase is this retroactive noticing.
So looking back on what happened and going, ah, yeah, that's something I wanna change, or that's an example of the thing. Yeah. And so as you start to get better at looking back and noticing past experiences and having new insights and learning, it gets easier and easier to shift that noticing to a different phase where you're noticing a while it's happening.
Ah, this is the, I'm overthinking right now, , or I'm procrastinating in this moment. Yeah. And noticing that and starting to pull yourself out of it and learning those techniques and strategies. And then over time it shifts to even proactive noticing. This is gonna be a hard day for me.
I haven't slept well, . Or I've got a big presentation ahead or you know, this is gonna be a difficult conversation. Yeah. Here's what is likely to happen or here's what I need to guard against or here's what I can do. And you can start then shifting the tactics and the strategies even in advance of it to help you out in.
Wow. But all of that takes time and it's all baby steps. We don't wanna be overwhelming ourselves with, you know, these big, you know, changes. It's just small things. And I think the way you do one thing is how you do everything, right? So oftentimes in when I work with people, we'll talk about very small examples because those are manageable.
We can hold onto those and we can really without deep attachment, maybe pick those apart and identify the feelings or the thoughts going on, and we can scale that up to bigger examples as well.
Rizwan: Key is to start the journey and then to build those muscles as you go to, yeah to identify the patterns, to realize what's, you know, what's happening, what can happen, what, how you.
It's just part of the self-discovery that happens once you start the process. But the key is to start it and to, you know put in the effort, put in the time, do that. And before I started the coaching I had the lens outwards. I never had the lens inside. I just didn't even think that was an option.
It's amazing like how you can go through your whole life and not turn the lens in where it's, I think that's
Kim Witten: a really interesting and insightful observation that you have about yourself that, that you probably didn't have, you know, years ago or how, however, you know, when you started this work.
And just even that alone is,
Rizwan: yeah. It's amazing and I think it, like you said earlier, that you know, your, where your culture, your upbringing and all those things play into. things like this happening where you just never look within you or you never even think that, oh yeah, I can actually look within me.
Why am I doing this? What do I want? That's like a big thing. Like it never came up before. Yeah. It was all that, what do I need to do? What do I need to do for this situation? Coming to that realization, you know, now it's better than never it's just interesting how we can go through our lives and.
Not pay attention to what's within us.
Kim Witten: Yeah. And then you have that, I love that idea of oh, I can do this . Yeah. . I can put myself first, or I can do this in a way that works for me. . Yeah. That's allowed. I've never tried that before. . I love it.
Rizwan: That's a whole new world opens up within you.
Kim Witten: And it's never too late. What's that phrase about like it the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The second best time is today.
Rizwan: Exactly. Yeah. I mean it's that, that's a big realization that, you know, starting now start in this moment because, you know, number one, we don't feel time as it goes by.
You know, a year could go by and you know in a blink of an eye. So starting now and getting, start a rule, whatever you need to do, but start in this moment. And that's another challenge in itself because sometimes you know that overthinking can happen again. Oh, it's too late. And Yeah.
Kim Witten: That's a great example of one of the things that we do to get in our own way Yeah. Is having those thoughts that come in that prevent us from even starting . You're continuing, and another point you have about, you know, things that we get in our way is making yourself small and Yeah.
Rizwan: Now I'm having flashbacks of how I've made myself small and played small and thought, you know, I was, that was normal. Can you share a little bit more about that aspect?
Kim Witten: Yeah. . Yeah. And I think this idea of playing small often comes from, again, an unmet need, right? We wanna feel safe or we wanna feel comfortable and so we don't speak up or we don't present the thing, the design or the idea that we really want to present or we don't show up in the way that, that we want. Or sometimes we don't even allow ourselves to imagine how we could show up differently to some event. Or that we could you know, that we could speak up or that we could enjoy an accomplishment, right?
That we could really own it and go, yeah, I did that . So those are all different ways in different places that we might be playing small and just imagining. , if we can get to this place where we can imagine, what would our life be like? If we weren't playing small, if we felt comfortable, safe, confident.
And so getting to that place, and, you know, what could I do then? And I remember, I felt, for me this was a huge one many years ago is around public speaking and I still struggle with public speaking. Yeah. I'm improving and working on it. But I remember driving home from a Toastmasters meeting many years ago and thinking to myself gosh, what would my life be like if I wasn't afraid of public speaking?
Yeah. If that wasn't an issue. What could I do? ? I think there was a coaching question in there that I didn't even know I was asking myself at that time, . Sure. I think it's always been in there, but yeah, that I just started imagining oh I could do this, or I wouldn't spend time, you know, hours before a presentation or I could sign up for this thing or you know, I could lead that or whatever it is.
Wow. If it just wasn't an issue.
Rizwan: Yeah. I think that this is one of those moments where or questions that can switch the, your thinking in just a moment. If there wasn't any problem if you're trying to do something, like you said, you know, if public speaking wasn't if there wasn't a big challenge with public speaking, what would you be able to achieve? Yeah. And, you know thinking over the challenge, past it. It's something that we are not used to. We all, sometimes we just think that challenge is it, and that's it. There's no other possibility around it. But, you know, when you think over that challenge, you can see like it's a, you know, the whole world opens up and you're like, oh, my life would be amazing.
And I'd be able to communicate better. I'll be able to give my design presentations and reviews. It'll be without, you know, without any struggle. And I'd be able to, you know, get to the next level that I want to if I could just do if this wasn't a problem. So it's, it feels like, you know, that's the key to unlock your, your, you know, being stuck and overthinking is to just imagine not having that problem is one of those examples that just came to mind.
Kim Witten: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I think sometimes especially again for people who are new to this work, it's it takes a little while to get to that place where you can allow yourself, or you can try on this idea of imagining what it would be like or what you could do or even picturing what not playing small could look like.
There might be a need for some safety or comfort or or just managing the chaos of our lives and sometimes even in just a practical productivity sense. Sometimes a lot of that day-to-day stuff just really gets in the way, you know? , and that's because, you know, maybe we're not managing our time or our calendar well, or our boundaries.
So we're doing lots of things for other people. We're spending a lot of time thinking about it, and then we're staying up really late. You know, maybe taking time back for ourselves. So like revenge, bedtime, procrastination. Is that act of scrolling mindlessly on your phone or playing video games or whatever, taking time back for yourself at the end of a long day long, busy day at the expense of your sleep, right?
Yeah. So when we're mismanaging our time and you know, not really getting on top of what, what's happened much earlier in the day, it has this knock on effect and then we don't sleep well and then the whole thing starts over again. So sometimes there's just a lot of really. Basic it's not basic.
It's, it can be quite challenging and thorny and ongoing, but there's some, oftentimes there's things in the way first before we can get to that dreaming and those bigger questions of so I just try to be aware with that, of that with people. Some people are all different. So some people can go to that place, that's their happy place.
They're living there anyway. . Yeah. But other people are and oftentimes overthinkers have a lot of stuff in the way that they, you know, they may even, it could be even as basic as clearing visual noise from their environment. Yeah. So there's like a lot of stuff in their space that's causing a lot of thought and distraction.
And not helping them be.
Rizwan: I think the first time I came across this was when I did a vision exercise where, you know, what would my future be like, would the ideal future be like? And then I realized what's stopping me from getting bad, ideal , you know, ideal to that ideal space. And I realized it is just the way I'm thinking, the way, you know, my thought, my thinking is what's holding me back.
And, you know it's out there to achieve. Yeah. Everybody else can achieve it. I can also achieve my own vision and dreams. So I think just practicing more of that op opening up the possibilities.
Kim Witten: I think that's a really good point. Cuz oftentimes that is the case. The only thing in the way is you is your own thoughts. Always me . Yeah. . Yeah. Cool. I like how we've come full circle on that one. ,
Rizwan: this has really been an insightful conversation. We're at the point of the, of our conversation where I ask the guests to share a challenge with the listeners to, to help them apply what we're, where we've talked about, to make it a little bit more concrete.
Curious to hear what challenge you have for the listeners. .
Kim Witten: Yeah. I think what we were just talking about with this vision and imagining not playing small leads very nicely into this listener challenge. is to I dare you all to come up with a list of a hundred wants. So this is a hundred things that you want and it can be anything.
And after you do that list there's a couple extra steps as well, and I can share an article that kind of goes into it. But basically what you do, it's as simple as coming up with a list of a hundred wants, and it can be anything at all. From practical stuff, impossible stuff, whatever it is. The first 20 or so might be easy, the middle bit is a stretch. The last bit is quite hard, And it may take time over time, but what I would encourage you to do is to come up with that list and then go through the list and add some categories each. So it might be good to do this in a spreadsheet Yeah where you can sort the list pretty easily.
But add some categories to this, whatever categories you want to come up with. So for me, I ended up with categories like tangible things that I could purchase. Travel or adventure impossible goals. Worldly goals. So things that I wanted for the world. You know to end climate change and, you know end all wars and all of these things.
Impossible goals. I'd love to be a few inches taller. It's not gonna happen. . So you go through and you come up with the categories, and then you can sort by those categories, and then you go through again and you decide, okay, for each one of those things, do I really want this? And if you really do mark that in the column.
Yes. And what that does is it allows you to really explore A, what you want but B, what are all the wants that I've just been holding onto these kind of like stale ideas? And then also, we don't often look at our wants in context with each other. , right? It's usually like we have a craving and we wanna go get a burrito , right?
And that's isolated, right? Yeah. But when you have this list of like big things, small things, you know, really aspirational stuff, really mundane stuff, and then you categorize it as well as decide. . You know, it, do I really want this? You get some really interesting patterns. So for me, I realized that once I went through and decided what I really wanted some whole categories just disappeared.
like I didn't actually want a lot of these things. I ended up realizing that there was a lot less, I thought I was, had all these ideas of tangible things that I wanted to go by. Yeah. And that category was actually quite small. Oh, wow. And then most importantly is you may realize that a lot of these things that you want are really achievable.
Oh. And then you can start making some plans or taking some steps or deciding some goals or actions around it after you've clarified and prioritized wow, your wants, it's powerful.
Rizwan: When you said to write a hundred wants, I feel, am I permitted to do this?
Kim Witten: I like that. It goes back to that question,
Rizwan: Yes. It feels like a, you know, like something that I shouldn't be doing. Yeah. Is this indulgent? Is it selfish? Yeah. It depends on your wants, isn't it? Yeah. , yeah. I just like being able to, again, like you said, turn the lens within. Yeah. To be allowed to express your thoughts and your wants and, you know, and that's just for me, but I feel like this is a great exercise, I feel like, to get everything out of your head and instead of holding it in, so then you can make room for more wants and.
Kim Witten: I love it. Yes.
Rizwan: Better, more targeted wants instead of just holding back; like you said, you may not even want those wants. Yeah. Or they may not be important for you, but you've just been holding onto them for your whole life.
And yeah. So I think this is a great way to discover what you really want. And start taking action on it.
Kim Witten: Yeah. And that will really help clarify your vision as well. Yeah. Because then you'll see so much of you and your interests and your passions reflected back on you. Wow. And what's important, and it'll be nicely organized and it'll be a living document, yeah. Yeah. I love what you said though about how getting it out of your head allows you to make room for more wants. Sure.
Rizwan: That is, does and doesn't in a wonderful way.
Kim Witten: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Rizwan: You know, make space for more.
Kim Witten: Yeah. Because who knows what you'll come up with. Yeah. Right. Exactly. Cause now you hit, you're starting fresh and your subconscious will come up with more ideas and and so is I think this is like a great exercise to do every so often to Yeah. Just keep focusing and to make sure that you're doing. Something that you want to be doing and you're kind self-checking your journey. Yeah. Bringing some conscious intention and awareness around Yeah.
What is driving a lot of my desires Sure. And my thoughts and my goals. And you can start lining some things up and organizing things. And you might also realize that you've already actually been making progress on things. . Yeah. You just didn't realize it. Yeah.
Rizwan: This brings it up in the open instead of in your head and where things get distorted really easily.
Kim Witten: Lists are helpful. I like a list.
Rizwan: Awesome. This is amazing. Yeah. I can't wait to do it myself. So thank you so much for this challenge. I think this is really helpful. Everybody needs to do it. .
Kim Witten: Yeah. I'd love to hear what you come up with and Yeah. How it goes for you.
Rizwan: So I'll definitely share it and yeah. Anybody listening too? If you try this, please share with Kim and let her know, you know what your experience was. And so it's good to learn from everybody.
Kim Witten: Yeah. And get some ideas, especially if we're at the, trying to get to the top of that list. , we're trying to get to hundred . What do you got on your list?
Rizwan: Cool. How can people learn more about you?
Kim Witten: Yes. So I, I have a page set up if people want to go to witten dot kms slash low-fidelity, they can find me there. So that's wt, t e n.km. It's a strange url slash low-fidelity. And I would, there's lots of links there to connect to me in various ways, but I'd love to be able to be in touch with people and find out how they're doing with this challenge or any other challenges they have.
I love kind of these small communications back and forth, and being able to help people with all these small challenges or ideas that they have is just great to be able to connect with people in all of these various ways that we have these days. Nice.
Rizwan: Yeah. Or even bigger challenges. So if you need coaching help, you know, if you find you that you're stuck in some area in your life, you know, reach out to Kim and. See if, you know, you can work together, and you know,
Kim Witten: I would love that too. I'm here for it.
Rizwan: Awesome. Thank you so much Kim. Thank you for coming to the show and speaking with me and the listeners, sharing all these amazing insights.
And I'm so glad that I'm speaking to you early in the mornings because now I feel like, feel energized and I'm ready to tackle the day , and I'm ready to Oh, amazing. and jump on my list. Uh, I'm, you know, it's really insightful conversation and thank you so much for coming.
Kim Witten: Yeah, it's been my absolute pleasure.
Thanks for having me. I've loved sharing ideas and talking about overthinking. We could do this for many more times, I'm sure.
Rizwan: All right. That was the amazing Kim Whitten. I love the strategies she shared to keep us from overthinking and having an overthinking take over us. And I love the perspective of, you know, instead of fighting overthinking, why not be befriending the part that experiences the anxiety of the experience so we can realize our creative potential?
You know, listening to, you know, when it shows up, when overthinking shows up, trying to get curious as to why it is happening, what's going on, and, you know, and dig deep into it to find areas of opportunity for ourselves, for our growth and learning. I also love the challenge that Kim shared with us, and just to repeat it for you.
So write a list of hundred wants that you have. Get all those wants out of your head. Push yourself to get a hundred because the ones towards the end are the ones that are the juicy ones. And then once you've got your list, categorize the wants into groups. You know, what, whatever works for you such as travel, purchasing goals you know, career and you know, anything that makes sense for you.
And then go through those categories and remove the ones that you don't that don't resonate with you. You know there'll be ones that are, have just been hanging around for a long time and yeah, you know, it's just they don't excite you. You know, Marie condo them and get them out of there.
Now you have your final list of wants. You can begin to identify ways to. , make them come true. Take action towards them, make plans and make a plan to achieve them and prioritize them to where you want to go and what you want to achieve first. Yeah, so it's a great challenge. I know I'm in the middle of it, and I will share my results.
You can on LinkedIn probably, or Twitter, and you know, onto back to you now. You know, both Kim and I would love to know how this exercise goes for you. So if you go through it, please reach out to either Kim or myself or on Twitter or LinkedIn to share your experience so we can learn from you and to see how, you know how it works and yeah.
So reach out. If you have any questions, this has been Unleash Your Mindset! podcast
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