Six Ways To Quit Living Inside Your Head & Discover Freedom

At one point in my life, I was miserable in my own skin. I spent most of my down time living inside my own head instead of out in the real world.

When a friendship would shift directions with the winds, I pondered what I had done wrong…over and over and over. My mind was a broken record. I analyzed every small word uttered, every action taken. I allowed other people to affect my attitude.

Do you ever find yourself living inside your head?

What do I mean by “living inside your head?” It’s when you over-analyze life to the point of diminishing returns. You are unable to live in the present because you are busy pondering the past. The enemy’s words are taken captive instead of “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)

I’m an introvert, so it’s natural for me to spend much time contemplating the deep meanings of life. Much like breathing, I am constantly analyzing and reflecting without even realizing it. But it’s a dangerous place to remain inside your mind without any outlets.

Living solely inside your head will lead you on a downward spiral toward sadness and regret at the least, deep depression at the worst. In addition, the never-ending reflection brings any type of positive action to a grinding halt.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin recently penned an article titled “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” Many of her thoughts deal with overcoming the resistance inside our minds, including this trait of the mentally strong: “They don’t dwell on the past.” Morin adds, “…they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.”

How do you live outside of your head and discover freedom?

1. Find a creative outlet and commit to engaging in it weekly. My creative outlets include writing and photography. Yours will likely be something different. We are made to create. When we’re not creating, we begin to ponder our past. Even dwelling on the positive past can cause us to yearn for “the glory days.”

2. Regularly meet with like-minded friends. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but the conversation should go deeper than discussing who will win the Super Bowl. I have a mastermind group I meet with via conference all twice per month. While our main focus is centered around life calling and entrepreneurial endeavors, we inevitably talk about life. There is something freeing about being transparent with a small group of close friends.

3. Pursue a life that involves something bigger than yourself. There is a lot of buzz online about living a better story and pursuing meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, too much of the content comes from a self-centered point-of-view. You will never find fulfillment in seeking personal success alone. In addition, you won’t have time to live in your head when you are fixated on meeting the needs of someone else.

4. Pray. Inevitably, the enemy is going to smack you upside the head and deliver blow-after-blow, reminding you of your failures from 1990 to present. Choose not to make an agreement with the enemy’s list. Pray as many times as necessary.

5. Get outdoors. The world is a massive place. Go explore it. Exploration offers us a chance to see how big God is and to bring nourishment to our souls.

6. Fill your mind with positive material. There is no shortage of available material available at your disposal. Listen to inspirational podcasts in the car and while exercising. Read motivational books instead of watching TV. This practice alone with change your life perspective dramatically.

Do you ever struggle with living inside your own head? What other ways are effective in helping us find freedom?

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  • Thomas Mason

    Good post today, Chris. I can certainly relate to living inside my head. That’s something I do constantly, evaluating every aspect of a certain thing or person. Unfortunately, living inside my head is always inward focused and when I’m inward focused, all the attention is on me and not on someone else. It’s a bit of a struggle to relate to people and their circumstances because during those times no one else exists and I’m all that really matters.

    I like to write as a creative outlet and much of it lands on my blog. I admit that most of my posts could be viewed as inward focused. But what I’m really doing is post by post getting all the stuff that’s inside my head outside my head, allowing me to little by little shift the focus off of me onto other people and things.

    • Chris Peek

      Great addition, Thomas. Being so inward focused is a form of selfishness. Sometimes we need a strong reminder that this world is a lot bigger than ourselves.

      I’m with you on blogging. I’ve attempted to make a shift in my writing over the last couple of years. Instead of being solely an outlet for my thoughts, I’ve hopefully made it practical and beneficial for my readers, too.

  • Kari Scare

    Like you, I am an introvert and spend a lot of time in my head. I also use writing as an outlet for all that’s going on in my head. It helps me to sort through all my thoughts in a meaningful way as well as in a way that hopefully benefits others. Being around other people – cultivating relationships – helps tremendously in getting me outside of my head and living outside of my head. In many cases, it’s bringing to life what’s going on in my head. After all, that’s who I am, so it stands to reason that my actions & how I live my life are an extension of that. Learning to realize that God made me an introvert for a reason, and He has tremendous plans for the vivid inner life that He gives me.

    • Chris Peek

      Kari, we definitely shouldn’t lose sight of the positive reasons God made us introverts. I believe we have quite a bit of insight to offer the world, especially in the small details that others may miss. That’s why it’s so important that we get outside of our heads on a regular basis and give back through creating and relating.

      • Kari Scare

        Three books, in addition to the Bible of course, have helped me a lot with this journey of appreciating being an introvert. They are The Highly Sensitive Person (reading now), Ordering Your Private World and Introverts in the Church.

        • Chris Peek

          The Highly Sensitive Person is a really insightful book. I haven’t read the other two. The Introvert Advantage is another excellent resource.

          • Kari Scare

            Yes, it is. I don’t agree with all of her approaches, but the premise and main ideas certainly fit and are helpful. I have heard of the Introvert Advantage but have not read it yet. The other two books I mentioned were really good, better than the HSP book, I thought.

  • Caleb

    Along with everything else you mentioned “Get outdoors” is a big one for me. I find that in order to maintain and alert and creative mind I need to daily get outdoors and get some physical exercise too.

    • Chris Peek

      I’m with you Caleb. Getting outdoors and exercising can do wonders for our minds and creativity. When writer’s block sets in, it’s usually best to head outside instead of staring at my computer monitor.

      • Caleb

        I agree Chris and it’s especially hard in the winter with cold, wet or snowy weather.

        • Chris Peek

          Yes indeed. I’m already clamoring for spring after 10 inches of snow!

  • Kathleen Caron

    Not dwelling on the past–that’s a very good idea for people who are given to being morose. Really, no good comes of it at all, not the good past or the bad past.

    • Chris Peek

      Agreed Kathleen. Even spending too much time on the good past can cause us to long for “better days.” Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  • Michael Wright

    I heard someone say recently “If you think more about where you’ve been than where you’re going, you’re in deep trouble.” and I think that hits the nail on the head. I got to overanalyzing a relationship with a customer yesterday, was about to go bonkers, then i took a walk and just started laughing. These situations come and go so often, we just have to keep moving forward – creatively looking for solutions.

    On the subject of being an introvert – I can’t recall where I read it, but there was an article that mentioned 100-200 years ago, introverts were in the majority, now it seems everyone has to fight to speak to be noticed. Did people just opt out of deep thinking just to be heard?

    • Chris Peek

      That’s a great quote for this discussion, Michael. My former pastor used to say something to the effect of “We’re in trouble if our memories are greater than our vision.”

      Interesting theory on introverts. I believe that many introverts surround us, though we don’t hear from them often enough. Some of that is changing a bit with the internet and social media. It’s a natural place for us to express ourselves through writing, deep interaction, and artistic expression.

  • Dan Black

    I make it a point to get outside and run a couple times a week. It sparks my creativity and also allows me to maintain my health. Great tips here.

    • Chris Peek

      I’m with you. Getting outside and running is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. It works much better than sitting and staring at a computer screen!

  • Jeremy Riley

    This is great practical advice, Chris. I’ve found that it has been a huge thing for me to share my concerns with good friends and they can speak into the situation.

    • Chris Peek

      Thanks Jeremy. I agree. Sharing our pain doesn’t always come naturally to many of us, but it becomes much easier and freeing once we begin opening up.