How do I Stop Overthinking?
Elemanting overthinking is a process that takes practice. There is no magic pill that is going to make you stop worrying too much or too often. The first step in putting a stop to overthinking is awareness; if we expect ourselves to be able to work on an issue, we must first be mindful that it is happening. Then ask yourself is overthinking going to change the outcome? Most of the time, we overthink because we want to control every part of life. We want to know what to expect, how can we prevent it, or how can we prepare for the worst.
To get a better idea of how we can get a handle on overthinking, let's first look at how we over think different situations.
Overthinking the Past
We often dwell on the past, wondering if we had made a different choice would our life be the same? We dwell on it so much we start to overthink things, the fact is at the time we might not have known what the outcome will be, so to sit and dwell on it does us no good. You have probably heard the saying "hindsight is 20/20," this can be one of our biggest enemies in overthinking the past, we live with the choices that we make. There is no turning back.
Stop thinking so much. You're breaking your own heart. — Unknown
The best thing we can do when we are overthinking about the past is to forgive ourselves. In my book SELF COMPASSION - The Power of Forgiving Yourself, I talk about how to forgive yourself for the choices you have made in your past. Learning these essential steps will help you overcome thinking your past decisions.
Overthinking the first date
So you are ready to go on the first date, your hair looks fantastic, nails done, and you even found the right shoes to match your dress. This night is going to be fun, or is it? You begin to worry about what can go wrong, what if I say the wrong thing? Did I wear the right shoes, does this dress make me look fat? What if he does not like what I have to say or what if I ramble on too much? You start to think about every little possibility that can go wrong to nth degree. Your stomach starts to turn; you begin to sweat profusely. This is the trap game of overthinking the first date. Expectations are getting higher and higher; you begin to build it up in your head.
What you want to do here is to try to get into the mindset that whatever happens, happens. NO matter how much you worry, I promise it will not change the outcome. I used to get very nervous before dates until I told myself this is not a date, but it is an adventure. I got into the mindset that no matter what happens, it was going to be a lesson. I was going to meet someone new and take in as much info as I could about the person and myself.
So keep in mind your next date, just let things naturally happen if it works out great and if it doesn't, oh well you made new memories.
Overthinking and Dating
Overthinking and dating is a little different than overthinking the first date. Overthinking dating is when you have gone on a few dates and still not sure where you are in the dating world. You might have started talking to someone and been on a few dates, things are somewhat ok, but you just are NOT feeling it. So you start to think well, is it me? Maybe it's them? You begin to make up scenarios in your head as to why. You begin to go down the rabbit trail of endless ideas of what is going on.
I have also seen this with women, especially when they are really into a guy; they cannot get enough of him. They want to take up every possible free moment he has. For whatever the reason is the guy is not reciprocating the same feelings. The girl starts to push and make up reasons in their head as to why he has not returned her calls or text. She begins to spiral out of control, blowing up his phone; she wants to know why he does not want to see her. She overthinks every last move she made, what did she do wrong, why isn't she enough, what could she change? She does not stop until he blocks her.
"The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of over-thinking you're doing with the problem." — Unknown
Overthinking a Relationship
Overthinking in a relationship, this one can be a bit tricky. There are so many reasons that we overthink in a relationship. Did things used to be great and now took a downward turn? Were things moving forward and progressing to come to a halt suddenly? Did the intimacy in the bedroom change? You don't feel as happy as you used to, maybe you don't find your partner as attractive as you once did or perhaps they don't see you in that way either. You can even start to think, am I good enough for my partner, you might begin to feel jealous and think they deserve someone better. Maybe you feel like you deserve someone better.
Whatever the possibility is, you have to figure out what is making you overthink. It comes down to there is an issue with the relationship somewhere. Ask yourself, can I talk to my partner about it and see if we can get on the same page if this is a possibility then work with your partner as a team to attack the issue.
Friendships come and go. Some last longer than others. Sometimes people are only our friends when it benefits them. We then start to overthink well is it me or is it them. How can I be a better friend? Why does my friend only hit me up when they want something and never around when I need something. We might even start to wonder, are we a good friend? What if I act the way others like some of my friends treat me? When thinking about friendships, ask yourself how is the friendship benefiting my life, is it adding to who I am, or is it getting in the way. Don't not keep those friendships going if they are toxic and not moving your life forward in a positive way.
Overthinking Guided Meditation
Is overthinking a sign of insecurity?
Overthinking can be a sign of insecurities depending on what you are thinking about. Are you overthinking why you are not enough, why are you extra baggage, or do you overthink why you can't do anything right? Overthinking comes from fears; we are trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. You also might overthink why you do you bring up dumb issues, insignificant problems, or makeup scenarios that haven't happened. If you feel like overthinking is getting in the way of everyday life, A great option to work through them is to seek a professional therapist or counselor to help give you new tools to help give you a better understanding why you are overthinking this way.
Overthinking is a Sign of Intelligence
"It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat and you also have a tendency to switch to panic sooner than average people, due to possessing especially high reactivity in the basolateral nuclei of the amygdala, then that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there's no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator."
"In a sense, worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death." -Dr. Adam Perkins, an expert in Neurobiology of Personality
I think it is safe to say we all know someone that is an overthinker; maybe it's family, friends, or a coworker. When it comes time for them to make a choice, it can seem like it takes forever for them to come up with the decision.
It might be frustrating at times for use to deal with them, but a recent study shows the reason why they are this way is that they are very creative and amazingly developed.
What causes us to overthink? Most common reasons for overthinking is fear - fear of failure, fear of being embarrassed, fear of ridicule. Try to identify what is causing you to overthink. If it's a past failure, it doesn't mean next time you won't succeed or have success. If you have experienced embarrassment or been ridiculed before, it does not necessarily translate that you will have the same results next time. The first thing that has to go is all your metal fears.
Cloudy judgment and elevated stress are caused by overthinking. Stay in the present don't spend too much time in the negative. The truth is no one can predict the future, the human imagination has no end, and this creates worries and concerns that haven't even occurred. All this is because of overthinking.
Be aware of your thoughts. Anytime you find stress creeping in, or you start to doubt yourself, take a moment to look at how you are responding to the situation. This is the exact moment you need to change and respond differently.
Try these simple steps daily to reduce your stress levels by not overthinking.
How to Avoid Over-Thinking
1. When your head feels foggy, and you can't clear your mind, move around do something physical to get your blood pumping.
2. Set aside "some thinking time," then move onto other activities.
3. Interrupt the thinking process or distract yourself by diverting your attention onto something very different.
4. Stop discussing what concerns you with everyone you meet as you'll end up confused, and you won't know what to do.
5. Accept that uncertainty is part of this life, and we don't have all the facts or know what's further down the road.
6. Throw yourself into a project, a hobby, or some work. That will force you to refocus on something else instead.
7. Let your mind go blank and relax for a while. It will help you see more clearly when you start to think next time.
"We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It's a death trap." — Anthony Hopkins
Effects of Overthinking
Overthinking isn't always bad, says psychologist Dr. Marny Lishman. She says it's a tool that allows us to learn from the past to avoid future mistakes - excellent for problem solving and decision-making.
However, she believes that women often go too far.
"I think women have evolved to overthink for everybody else in our families who don't, including our parents, kids, and partners," says Lishman.
Short-term, this is uncomfortable. Long-term, says psychologist Dr. Timothy Sharp of The Happiness Institute, the effects are worse. He says overthinking can lead to "frustration, anxiety, fear and depression [and] can have a seriously negative impact on every part of our lives."
The impact is even more detrimental when overthinking becomes a habit. Lishman says that while it's initially soothing (anxiety levels fall because we believe we're better prepared), the more we do it, the more our anxiety increases.
"Overthinking will trap you in your imaginary world."
Overthinking Is Killing You
A study from UC Santa Barbara suggests that overthinking too often can lead us to make poor choices and get in the way of making thoughtful decisions. Make poor judgments and choices, can be harmful and even lethal in specific scenarios.
So if you ask is overthinking killing me? Yes- yes it can, we tend to give negative thoughts more weight over positive ones. Once you allow the idea to enter your brain and all you can do is stay hyper-focused on it, that is all you can see. For example, you're late for a meeting, all you can think about is what your boss will say, will you miss the meeting? What are the consequences of being late? You are overwhelmed with all your thoughts, and you run a stop sign. This time you didn't get hurt, but you did get pulled over. Instead of saying well, I am late, I will head out, and I will get there when I get there. Your overthinking kicked in, and everything else around you became less crucial.
I don't believe that overthinking will directly kill you, but it does cloud your judgment for other areas of your life. This can indirectly lead to injury or death.
I hope this added some insight to overthinking. I want to leave with this.
How to Declutter Your Mind
1. Change your environment
2. Get outside and focus on nature
4. Talk to someone who cares about you
5. Do something thoughtful for someone else
6. Tidy up your physical space
If you think that others can benefit from these strategies, please don't hesitate to hit the share button on your favorite social network.