Do you have thoughts that you can’t seem to keep at bay? You are just going about your day, and something comes to mind that you can’t stop thinking about? Then you need to go ask, or go look at phones, emails and messages on a frantic search for answers. Sound familiar?
Although this is very common, it can be a setback to healing and moving forward. In this episode you will learn the difference between helpful things to watch out for and ones that will lead you nowhere. You will also know what to do with runaway thoughts so you can stay in a peaceful place more of the time.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
Episode #83: Runaway Thoughts.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey, everybody. I’m here with Episode #83 today. I hope you’re doing well.
Today, I’m going to cover a topic that I have had several requests for.
I’ve had several people ask me what to do with runaway thoughts, so that is
what we are going to cover today. Before I dive in, I want to just remind
you that next week I am opening the doors for a program that I am launching
for the very first time. It’s Know in 90. It’s a 90-day program where you
will go all-in on committing one way or another, if you’re staying or
going. And having a clear blueprint of how you’re going to show up in that
space, whether you’re staying or going, that will get you what you want,
that will take you to where you want to be, whether you stay or go. I want
to just say too, that this also applies to people who have had the decision
made for them; maybe your spouse left. Or people who have already decided
but question your decision constantly. This applies to you too. I promise.
If you’re interested, go to the show notes. Click on the link. You can go
ahead and schedule a call with me. I’m doing tons of calls in the next
couple weeks, to go over questions, to make sure it’s a perfect fit for
you. You can come speak to me, and we’ll get you set up. Okay. Let’s go.
Runaway thoughts. You probably know, without me even explaining what I’m
talking about. Right? It feels obsessive. You want the details. You can’t
stop thinking about the details. You wake up in the middle of the night,
obsessing about them. It’s quite disturbing. You wonder if you’ll ever feel
normal again. You start making progress, have a disturbing thought or
image, and bam, right back at the beginning you go, or so it seems, with
that acute, searing pain that you wonder if you’re ever going to stop
You can’t help but ruminate and go round and round and round about every
detail. Do you know this? Sometimes it looks like having to go through and
seeing every single text, every image. Right? Now, this is normal. But
there are things you can do about it, and that’s what we’ll cover today.
First, let’s talk about why it’s normal. We have our primal brains that you
hear me talk about a lot, which will do anything to keep us safe. That is
why we are still alive, is because our brains have built in mechanisms to
keep us safe. So, if our brains suspect that there’s something that’s
hurtful or harmful to us, what’s it going to do? It’s going to do
everything it can to keep us from getting re-injured, right?
It’s going to steer us far away from things that might hurt us. Our brains
also are programmed and wired to want answers. We want to find meaning. We
want to make so of what happened. And it just doesn’t make sense. We want
to make one plus one equal two. So, we keep asking questions, repeating
scenarios in our mind, scenes in our mind, thinking maybe this will make
two. But you can’t get that one plus one to equal two, no matter which way
you slice it. Okay?
You think maybe you’ll hear something that will put it all together or that
you’ll think about it enough, and then you’ll finally understand it. But
sometimes, the pursuit of it making sense can backfire. You might ask for
specific details. He then gives them to you. And then it stings even more.
There are some answers to things that, while true, will not be useful to
you in your pursuit of healing.
You think that if you look at every email, every text, every picture, every
exchange, all the explicit details, that it will help you piece things
together. But in reality, it just pierces you even more. Our brain wants it
to seem very urgent to have every explicit detail, but it just is not true.
Having every single detail can be, what you’ve heard me say is, “the death
of a thousand paper cuts.” I’ve heard infidelity referred to in that way.
And a lot of what makes it that is all of these little details that we
think seem important but just wound us even more. This is where we punish
ourselves over and over unnecessarily. Okay?
When is it useful? When is it necessary to go digging, to ask more
questions? I’ll tell you. Number one: if there are holes in the story and
you know it. Okay? If it doesn’t add up. And by adding up, I’m not talking
about understanding the overall “why,” the overall “how could you?” Those
things. I’m talking about details. I’m talking about specific details,
like, “You said this, but there’s no way that this could have happened
because of this.” When you know that it’s not quite lining up. Or when you
know that the story has changed a bit, over time, from the initial
disclosure, and you recognize that either big chunks are missing or that
details keep changing. That would be a time where more questions would be
Number two: there are still lots of secrets. Like not to telling you who it
is. If they ended it. Vague answers like, “Yes, I ended it,” but not
telling you exactly when and how and what you will do if the affair partner
reaches back out. How will you handle that?
Things like this need to be discussed. Another example of secrets is if the
person who betrayed says, “I’m not going to tell you this detail because it
doesn’t matter. I don’t have to tell you.” They do not get to set the terms
for what matters to hear. For a relationship to heal, full disclosure means
full disclosure. If you are getting any less than that, you are wise to dig
deeper. But this comes from a wise place, not a panicked place. And full
disclosure does not mean every nitty gritty detail of where and when and
what time and how many times. Okay? Full disclosure means the overall.
“This is who the person is. These are the details of what happened. This is
when I ended it. This is how I ended it.” That’s what disclosure is. Every
single detail is not necessary.
Number three: the partner who cheated becomes emotionally distant or
apathetic toward you or about the work required to heal and rebuild the
relationship. He stops seeking out help. He avoids conversations with you
about infidelity or avoids conversations period. These three things can tip
you off that the betrayed partner is maybe not all in on rebuilding or that
there’s something blocking them from telling the truth. And these are
things you want to lean into. Okay? If you want to heal a relationship,
these things have to be leaned into. Even if you decide that you’re going
to leave your relationship, if you want to know more, if you want, for your
own mind, to understand things a little bit better, those are the things to
lean into. Okay?
Not knowing those things and seeing the holes in the story and seeing how
the story has changed can keep the betrayed partner in a very high state of
anxiety. You know something’s off, and you don’t feel safe to relax into
the relationship. Sometimes you’ll ask the obsessive questions just as a
way to connect to your partner; to feel something from them, to feel less
alone, to feel seen. Anything, right?
But this kind of connection rarely helps. It often makes a wedge and makes
things worse. Because if you’re coming into a conversation with obsessive
questions, it often has the tone of accusatory or demanding or desperate.
And these things will not open up a conversation to really getting to the
nitty gritty, the details that need to be shared that will actually help
you move forward.
It might feel good to have your partner there and comforting you, but the
obsessive questions and the answers to them will not always have the
desired effect that you’re hoping for. There are ways to connect with your
partner to reach them, to connect them, that don’t involve diving into
these obsessive questions, these things, these “I need to know” questions.
Okay? So, what does help? Number one: leaning on your partner. Let him bear
witness to your pain.
It’s quite a paradox, that is not lost on me, that the person that betrayed
your trust most, really is in a position to help you heal. Okay? This can
come by listening, taking full ownership, sitting with you when you’re
having strong emotions, answering questions, not getting defensive,
reassuring you of their love and commitment to fix things. That same person
that betrayed your trust in the first place can often be the one that helps
you heal the most. The one that sees you the most. Let that person see you.
Let them feel your pain. Let them your pain. Let them witness that you have
been hurt. Let them see you cry. If this person is not willing, tell
someone that you trust and share your pain with them. Do not do this alone.
Hire a coach or a therapist. Let someone sit with you. Let someone be with
Number two: learn to distinguish runaway thoughts from helpful inquiries.
Being on to yourself. Okay? It will feel different in your body. This is
what runaway thoughts feel like. You know what? I know really well. Because
I’ve spent plenty of time hanging out with runaway thoughts. Okay? I know
what they feel like. They feel panicked. You need an answer now. Now. This
is when you wake up at 2:00 AM, and you start looking for Instagram posts
or podcasts or books or magazine articles or anything. Anything at all.
Because you need to know now. You go become a sleuth of the interwebs,
looking for answers. You call your best friend in a panic. You start
looking through their phone in the middle of the night, knowing that there
must be something there that you need to see. These are runaway thoughts.
Helpful inquiries feel different. It comes from a place of wisdom. It comes
from a place of calm. Is it comfortable? No. No, it’s not comfortable. None
of this is comfortable. But it’s coming from a place of calm, like: “This
is something I need to know. This is something that does not feel right to
me.” It feels different. It’s calm. Okay? Number three: set boundaries
around runaway obsessive thoughts. Okay. I’m going to step back to number
two a little bit: learning to distinguish runaway thoughts from helpful
inquiries. If you’re thinking about a puppy, and I think of puppies as
really hyper, really yappy. They want so much attention. All the attention
all the time. Right? It’s very important that they get attention. They’re
jumping all over you, wanting to get you to come play. Peeing all over the
place, making a mess. Not trained. Right? I think about the kind of
thoughts that create helpful inquiries, not like a puppy. I think of it as
a calm, mature dog. Not a puppy. A very mature voice.
This is what you can do with that puppy. You can lovingly recognize it.
This is my puppy brain. Put it in a kennel. Put it outside. Okay? Remind
the puppy that you’ll back. You can give it a timeout. Okay? You are, quite
literally, training your puppy brain to behave. To behave. “Don’t jump up
on me.” “Don’t bark at me.” And it will seem very, very important. But
learning to recognize it, to go, “This is my puppy brain” and to nip it in
the bud, will help you so much in knowing what to do with it. Okay? When
you start to feel that puppy brain, stop and breathe. It’s going to make it
seem very important that you do something immediately. Remember that, right
in this moment, you are safe. Remind yourself that it does not all need to
be solved right now. It doesn’t. I promise you.
Number four: enlist the help of others. Get support as much as you need. I
want to touch on something here. For many people who are the ones who have
betrayed their spouses, it can be really embarrassing. I get this. They
don’t want people to know what they’ve done. They don’t want people to have
a day different opinion of them. But my friends, it’s not your burden to
bear. Okay? Secrecy is not your burden to bear. Privacy and secrecy are
different things. Privacy is where you set boundaries for yourself, around
who you want to share with. You do not have to share with everybody. Okay?
That’s privacy. Privacy is a boundary. Secrecy comes more out of trying to
control things. “It’s a secret, don’t tell.” And that puts the burden on
you. It’s not fair. You do need to talk about this. You do need support.
You do need to share. You do need people who know, that can lift you up and
listen and help talk you off ledge from time to time, when that puppy brain
is going crazy. It’s helpful. It’s important. Secrecy is not your burden to
Your spouse may say, “Don’t tell anybody.” That is not your burden to bear.
Okay? When certain choices are made, a consequence is often that some
people might know and that they might have thoughts about your partner.
That is a consequence. That’s not for you to control or manage. Okay?
Privacy is for you to manage. Who do you feel like you want to tell? If you
make sure it’s not coming from a place of revenge or vengeance or some kind
of vindictive type thing, share. Tell people. Tell the people that you
trust. Yes, I do suggest being discerning. Yes. But don’t feel like you
have to carry it alone.
Okay. That’s what I have for you today. I hope that you have found this
helpful. I hope that you practice some of these things. If you get lost on
runaway thoughts, come back and listen to this one. Okay? Especially those
questions at the beginning about when it is important to ask more
questions. Again, all of this is normal. It really is. It’s so normal to
feel like you’re making headway and then… not so much. And our thoughts
can go, oh my gosh. While I ever move past this? I thought that I was
making progress, and here I am right at the beginning. I promised this is
Healing is not linear. It is not linear. It feels more all over the place.
It is not in a straight line. Okay? Two steps forward, one step back. Five
steps forward, three steps back. That’s more what it looks like. Okay? But
let’s get you out of pain. Let’s stop prolonging your pain. Let’s stop
punching ourselves in the face, shall we? Let’s stop giving ourselves paper
cuts by obsessively needing to know every little thing. I promise you,
don’t. There are some things that are best left unasked, unsaid, unknown.
And these are the explicit things. These are going round and round with
every detail and wanting to know exactly what things look like. And you’re
trying to picture things in your mind.
One more thing I want to throw my in here is that sometimes, when we try to
picture things in our mind, we often make up a story that is worse than
what actually happened. If we don’t have the answers, or if we don’t
believe the answers, we come up with an answer because that’s what our
brain does. And it’s often worse than what actually happened.
Set those things down. Ask yourself, is this useful? Is this really useful?
If it’s not, let it go. Okay? All right, my friends. That’s what I have for
you today. I hope you find this helpful. If you have further questions,
please email them to me. I keep a file of all of the requests that I get
for podcast episodes. If I’m not covering something you want covered, shoot
me an email. Andrea@andreagiles.com. All right, my friends. Thank you so
much. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you next week. Bye bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/ Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.