Why Some Conversations Stay In Your Head On Repeat & How To Get Them To Stop

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Overthinking past conversations Kevin Turcios | Unsplash

An emotionally charged interaction leaves you upset with how it played out, so you overthink the discussion to identify where you got off track. You want to stop overthinking hurtful conversations but can't let them go.

You can't stop overthinking a hurtful remark from your partner or being chewed out at work.

How many of us have been in bed at night replaying unspoken yet necessary conversations?

This circular thinking is anxiety. It is obsessive or ruminative thinking, and it is not all in your head — it is all in your brain.


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Here's why some conversations stay in your head on repeat (and how you can finally put them to rest).

1. Rewinding to the root

Back up behind your anxiety to the fear it serves to cover and allow yourself to feel it. Just sit with that a bit, and anxiety will begin to lighten up.

2. Regulating breath

Regulate your feelings by breathing through them. Notice you can feel afraid and still be okay.

3. Communicating effectively

Communicate your feelings to the other person. Communicate it responsibly, “I felt afraid when you made those remarks. It seemed you didn’t have my back in front of your parents.”


stuck in a thought loop

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4. Making respectful requests

Respectfully request what you need from them in the future.

5. Enjoying the calm

Enjoy being much calmer and more emotionally intimate with your person.

Notice how your communication is not at the expense of the other person but is respectful and delivered in the first-person voice.


That means you don’t use statements like, “You scared me,” “You made me angry,” or "You shamed me." Instead, you use “I" statements: “I felt angry, afraid, and ashamed.” With this type of response, you take responsibility for your feelings. You don’t blame the other person for how you feel.

Their problem: making the hurtful remark. Your problem: how you felt about it.



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Every event we experience affects us on a logical level, emotional level, and behavioral level.

Overthinking becomes a neurological speedway in your gray matter with no easy-to-spot exit ramps or pit stops. Your neurons go round and round the speedway from neurochemicals that negatively affect your body’s balance and well-being.

Anxiety is not a feeling. It is a state you enter as an avoidance of a legitimate feeling.

Anxiety is fear, unfelt. When you identify and face your fears, you render them less powerful. Most importantly, your neurons slow down, and you can think about the situation from your higher, more rational brain.

Why do humans fear speaking up when the situation screams for us to share our truth?


It is probably fear of rejection, fear of being judged, fear of not being good enough, fear of being out of control.

When it comes to hot topics, how liberating would it be if we could be aware enough to identify our feelings during critical conversation and use them to respond to the other person rather than overreacting or underreacting?

To do this, you must first ask yourself how you felt when the event occurred. Were you angry? Sad? Scared? Uncomfortable? It is probably some combination of these intense negative feelings.

When we fail to recognize and have these feelings, they will “have us” by either shutting us down or revving us up to say or do stupid things.


RELATED: How To Stop Ruminating Over Someone So You Can Move On

Here is the concept in action:

You go to dinner with your partner and their parents. Your person makes a cutting remark about your weight in their presence. You feel angry, sad, and uncomfortable but sit quietly seething. Internally, you are battling between cutting loose on them or stuffing down your legitimate upset. You choose the latter option.


Later that night, as you try to sleep, you berate yourself by going round and round with what you needed to say but were too afraid to address.

When you stop the circular internal chatter and get honest about your fear, you have opened the gateway to some meaningful conversation where you can express yourself and generate a clear understanding between you and your significant other.

When we ignore our feelings and experience in the face of an upsetting event, we are leaving out a vital piece of the relationship puzzle, and we set ourselves up to either act the feelings out by behaving meanly and then suffering later on or act the feelings in by shutting down and suffering later on. This approach pushes love away and makes you anxious.

Identifying our feelings and thoughtfully expressing them helps us be more confident in our love relationships and much less conflict-avoidant. After all, successful conflict resolution is the only way we build true emotional intimacy with those we love.


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Ellie Izzo is the creator of Sentbeat, an innovative APP for enhancing emotional intelligence. Information can also be found on LinkedIn.