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3 Ways to Pattern Interrupt When You’re Overwhelmed

Aug 10, 2021

Do you struggle to be in the “here and now”? Do you find that you tend to focus on the past and future, and it prevents you from recognizing what you need in the moment that you’re in? It can be overwhelming to pinpoint the answer to the question, “what do I need right now?”

When you’re overwhelmed, your mind is racing, your heartbeat is accelerating, and you can’t seem to focus on the moment that you’re in, it can be challenging to step away from your spiraling thoughts and assess your needs.

When you find yourself overwhelmed, it is important to pattern interrupt to redirect and reground your thinking.

HuffPost said, “A Pattern interrupt is a technique to change a particular thought, behavior or situation. Behavioral psychology and neuro linguistic programming use this technique to interrupt and change thought patterns and behaviors.”

Pattern interrupting is used to spark and refocus your attention. A pattern interrupt when you’re overwhelmed can allow you to identify your needs and plan for how to meet those needs.

So, how do you effectively pattern interrupt? Here are three ways that will allow you to pinpoint your needs in the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or future.



If you are trying to identify what you need in a moment, you may find it helpful to pull yourself into your thoughts.

Allow for the space to be empty. Sit still, intentionally clear your mind, and ask yourself, “what do I need in this moment?” You do not need an immediate or concrete answer. If you find that your monkey mind wanders, that’s okay, pull it back into the now.

If you ask yourself “what do I need in this moment?” and you don’t have a concrete answer, it may be because all you need right now is to be still, to take a moment to empty your mind, and to check in with yourself.

Lean into this stillness.

Allow yourself to just be.

You can always ask yourself again, “what do I need in this moment?”

As you intentionally ask yourself this, listen to your thoughts. What are your needs? Be gentle with yourself. Be open to what your needs are, they may be different than what you expected, but they are still valid.

By exploring your thoughts in this pattern interrupt when you’re overwhelmed, you get a chance to focus on something rather than the runaway train that overwhelm can bring.


No matter why you’re overwhelmed, or what your specific needs are, you will benefit from deeper, fuller breathing.

As you ask yourself, “what do I need in this moment?” focus on your breathing.

Breathe in.


Breathe out.

More oxygen will oxidize your thoughts, enliven your blood, and fuel your cells. It will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of how you are feeling, why you are overwhelmed, and what you need right at this present moment.

Taking the time to take a few deep breaths will allow you to slow your mind, calm your thoughts, and better recognize exactly what you are feeling.

Deep breathing is a simple way to pattern interrupt anywhere. If you find yourself overwhelmed in a public place, or in a situation where you don’t want to draw attention, slowing your breathing will enable you to reground your thinking as you process your thoughts.


It’s not uncommon for someone to feel unsupported when they are overwhelmed. If you experience this, then one thing that you can do to support yourself is to gently place one hand on your heart and one on your belly… And as you breathe, repeat to yourself, either internally or out loud, “I love and accept myself, right now, as I am.

It might not feel true You might not want to love and accept yourself as you are right at that current moment, but it’s a healing practice to redirect where the mind is going back to a place of loving kindness and self-acceptance.

It may also be helpful to gently, but firmly, tap three fingers over your sternum while you say the words out loud, “I love and accept myself, right now, as I am.

In this moment, you don’t need to know what your needs are or articulate every sensation you’re feeling.

You just need to love and accept yourself.

This is the “leash” you can begin to put on your racing thoughts, to help them heel/aka heal.

I love and accept myself. What a beautiful starting point for us all.


Lola L’Amour is a spiritual mentor, healer, creator of the Future Ancients podcast and founder of the Anima Mystery School. 


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LOLA L’AMOUR is a spiritual mentor; offering private mentorship and transformational retreats. She is the creator of the Future Ancients podcast, founder of the Anima Mystery School, and bestselling author of the Wild Messengers Alchemical Tarot.

When Lola is not supporting her community, you’ll find her on her mat, out for a hike, or adventuring with her husband and 2 kids. To receive Lola’s support, please reach out to her on the contact page.

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