CHARLIE THE GOAT Learning how to manage runaway thoughts

So many people inquire on how to manage overthinking! They ask for tips on how to retrain the way they think. They desire to develop new patterns of thinking… It all starts by taking unwanted thoughts captive. Today I will share with you an excerpt from the book PANIC ATTACKS CALMING THE STORM. The author having overcome severe anxiety disorder and panic attacks , uses analogies that those suffering can relate to. His stories also make it easier for friends and family of those who live with mental torment to understand.

Taken from chapter 11:

Taking Back Control Of Your Mind

The way you think is ultimately going to determine the way you behave. Certain mental barriers are very healthy because they prevent harmful thinking that opens the door to harmful behavior. I certainly became painfully aware that I did not possess a healthy mental barrier! Without a healthy mental barrier, thoughts of fear are allowed to run rampant, and because of that, uncontrollable fear led to harmful, unwanted behavior.

For people who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety disorders, or any other behavior that is extremely unpleasant, for one reason or another, they do not have healthy mental barriers that serve as a block from constantly entertaining extreme thoughts based on speculation.

I certainly became painfully aware that I did not possess a healthy mental barrier! Without a healthy mental barrier, thoughts of fear are allowed to run rampant, and because of that, uncontrollable fear led to harmful, unwanted behavior.

As an illustration to help you understand this concept, I’m going to teach you about raising goats. At our restaurant and motor inn, we have a petting zoo for people to enjoy. Goats are a big attraction, and I like to raise them. They are ornery and stubborn—a lot like me. My most ornery goat was named Charlie.


Goats, like people, always seem to want what they can’t have. They eat almost anything and will most likely destroy everything that is within their reach. Wow, that sounds like a lot of my friends.

So anyway, mix those two traits together, and you get a goat. Goats want what they can’t have, and goats always like to be chewing on something. Because of these two traits, goats will often challenge the fence in which they are contained. Therefore, take note that the NEW barriers you build need to be higher and stronger so that even the Charlies would not be up for the challenge, and Charlie challenged everything!

Goats are herd animals, so by nature, they like to stick together somewhat. Because of that, if you ever left a goat out of the pen, that goat would most likely destroy anything that was in its path; however, it would be unlikely to run away. Most of the time, a goat on its own will return to the area that they are familiar with, back to where other goats are.

Every once in a while, you will have a goat like Charlie who is just relentless in challenging the boundaries that are established by the fence of their pen. One way or another, that goat will find a way of escape.

Since I am as ornery as a goat, I was up for the challenge of ending Charlie’s escape. The motivation of the goat is to explore new territories to find new things to chew on and destroy. So, what needs to be done is to put a muzzle on the goat and then allow the goat to go through the gate and have its freedom.

With a muzzle, the goat can drink water but it cannot eat or chew on anything. I also want to make sure that the area that the goat has left to explore is devoid of anything that the goat might be likely to find enticing.

Not only do I want to keep the goat from eating, but I also want to restrict what the goat will perceive that it wants to get access to.

Once frustrated outside the pen, I allow time for the goat to eventually find its way back to the pen. Instead of letting the goat in, I feed the other goats on the inside of the pen while my ornery escapee, Charlie is on the outside looking in.

Aside from the regular food, I throw in some small tree branches because, for some reason, goats love gnawing on junk like that. Once my ornery wanderer has had enough of being outside the pen with no gratification, I take off the muzzle and put him back in the pen. The goat thoroughly enjoys the food and the “chew toys.” Before long, after a few repeat performances, the former escapee begins to lose his desire for the unknown. Charlie is kinda stupid like that.

Photo by Chris F on

When you are training a goat, the last thing that you want is to feed it while it is outside the pen.

Okay, here are the players:

Goats represent your thoughts.

My ornery goat Charlie represents rampant unwanted thoughts.

The fence represents the mind barrier.

Food outside the fence represents feeding negative thoughts by entertaining them.

Provisions inside the fence represent a correct mindset.


If you or any one you know suffers from mental anguish I encourage you to read – Panic Attacks Calming the Storm. The author, Brian Ludwig, had lost all hope and seriously questioned if he could ever be happy again. The book is filled with many true stories and analogies, making concepts easy to grasp. Please share this post because many suffer silently.