Do you get to a point where you overthink your overthinking?
Then let’s have a conversation!
Thinking about something in endless circles — is exhausting.
While everyone overthinks a few things once in a while, over-thinkers spend most of their time doing the most which puts pressure on themselves. We then mistake that pressure to be stress. Overthinking means focusing on an issue too much and analysing it more than you should, causing increased amounts of stress and anxiety. It is the biggest cause of unhappiness and during lockdown I know, it’s even worse. Nevertheless, keep yourself occupied, keep your mind off things that don’t help, think positive. Overthinking an issue, event, or even conversation is a common method of coping with stress. But being stressed and troubling has strong ties with depression and anxiety. For many people, overthinking things is just an automatic way of seeing the world and may even cause some people to delay seeking treatment. Learning how to cope with overthinking can help you let go of painful memories and break out of damaging thought patterns.
Remember that day when you didn’t have a single thought? Yeah, neither does anyone else. We are perpetual thinkers. It’s a non-stop habit! Apparently, you generate about 70.000 thoughts per day. What are these thoughts all about, I hear you ask? Are they helping you live the life you want to live? Or are they making you feel less about yourself and others?
1) It begins with awareness, you must actually become aware of what is going on inside your head and that sounds simple enough, but many of us never even realise that there’s some negative stuff happening up there, and instead we choose to act like everything is okay. Are you overthinking or negatively? WELL ADMIT IT. Because otherwise you won’t change a thing. However, when you actually make it clear to yourself that you don’t like what’s going on, and you begin to be aware of it, now you can start to make a real change. You can keep a thought diary, writing down your thoughts as they come up, at least the more noticeable ones. Even if they’re negative, it’ll help you to start to get an overview of what’s happening in your mind, and after this it’ll be much easier to make the changes you want to make.
2) Use meditation. This is one of the very best and most effective ways to beat overthinking, and it could work for you. Another way that you can train your mind quickly is by really focusing on the daily tasks that you are doing, being fully present and aware as you are doing them, and not get caught up by the noise in your head. When you’re walking outside, breathe the air and pay attention to your environment. We get so used to our daily activities after a while that you may notice you’re thinking constantly, even if you used to do it with some intense presence and focus in the past. This effect really kicks in once we’ve been doing something for a few years.
3) Separate yourself from your thoughts. That voice in your head is exactly that, a voice. You can control it, you can shape it, and when you begin to understand this you gain massive power over it. You can use your thinking to help you be productive, but if you let it run on autopilot it is likely that your life won’t turn out to be the way you wanted. So it’s important to always steer your thoughts in the right direction.
Anytime I became aware of a negative thought, I would try redirect it by saying, “How can I change this into something that helps me?” For example, I had a major problem with setting up Darkside Rum Punch online and had so many setbacks before I started thinking positive again, a few know about the problems, I had. This one simple change done on a daily basis has led me to place of close to no negative thoughts, and I came from a place of depression and anxiety especially because of the bad end of 2020. Remember that overthinking, especially if it’s negative, is actually a bad habit, so you’ll be able to become aware of your thoughts, begin to control them and also separate yourself from what goes through your head. Some people who overthink things tend to believe they cannot perform well or that they will fall behind and be looked down upon. Don’t fall into this trap! Believe that you can do it and you will; the pain and breathlessness will fall away.
Overthinking can take many forms: endlessly deliberating when making a decision (and then questioning the decision), attempting to read minds, trying to predict the future, reading into the smallest of details, etc. People who like me consistently run commentaries in their heads, criticising and picking apart what we said and did yesterday, terrified that we look bad.
Why did that happen?
What does it mean?
Should I be doing this?
But we never find any answers.
Overthinking is destructive and mentally draining, it can make you feel like you’re stuck in one place, and if you don’t act, it can greatly impact on your day-to-day life. It can quickly put your health and total well-being at risk. Many people overthink because they are scared of the future, and what could potentially go wrong. Because we feel vulnerable about the future, we keep trying to solve problems in our head. Extreme overthinking can easily sap your sense of control over your life. It robs us of active participation in everything around us.
You can tame your overthinking habit if you can start taking a grip on your self-talk — that inner voice that provides a running monologue throughout the day and even into the night. Ask yourself — What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes? Instead of “I’m stuck in my career,” tell yourself, “I want a job where I feel more engaged.” Then make a plan to expand your skills, network, and look for opportunities for a better career. Becoming self-aware can help you take control.
Recognise your brain is in overdrive or ruminating mode, and then try to snap out of it. Or better yet, distract yourself and redirect your attention to something else that requires focus. It takes practice, but with time, you will be able to easily recognise when you are worrying unnecessarily, and choose instead, to do something in real life rather than spending a lot of time in your head. Don’t get lost in thoughts about what you could have, would have, and should have done differently. Mental stress can seriously impact your quality of life.
Alter your view of failure. Whether you’re afraid of trying something because your thinking has led you to believe you’d fail, or you can’t stop replaying the memory of a time you failed at something, you need to recognize that sometimes things just don’t work out the way we’d like them to and that’s not always a bad thing. A lot of what we perceive as failure is not an ending, but a beginning: to new options / opportunities, and ways of living. Try not to dwell on the past. An important part of overthinking is to recognise that you cannot change the past, and that dwelling on it will not help change anything. While learning from the past is an important part of growing and maturing, overthinking on mistakes, missed opportunities, and other elements of the past is harmful and unproductive.
Focus on the now and you’ll see how your life changes.
Great post, Jason! I have found that awareness and meditation have really helped me shift my mindset and remove (most) negative thoughts from my life.
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Thank you Eric