Thoughts are compelling, and what one thinks is likely to be their reality. When you keep thinking about a particular thing or subject, you start experiencing it in real life. Everyone, at some point, will experience overthinking.
Overthinking is when you think and contemplate something for too long, especially when you need to make a decision or evaluate a situation. When you are overthinking, you can’t get that thought out of your head, and this happens sometimes because of worry or stress or anxiety. You end up thinking in circles, and that is very exhaustive. Overthinking sometimes leads to “paralysis by analysis,” where you play all the likely scenarios in your head when trying to make a hard decision and avoid taking the wrong action. When overthinking, you endlessly deliberate, attempt to read minds, predict the future, and read into the smallest details. Sometimes you end up not making any decision at all, which is worse than making the wrong decision. People with chronic overthinking can have sleepless nights, which can increase the incidences of depression and stress.
If you have this problem, there is good news for you since no one is born an overthinker. Humans usually develop patterns in their behavior that are as a result of their past experiences. Since these patterns are learned in the course of one’s life, they can also be unlearned. To stop overthinking and this vicious cycle, you only need to decide to take action by changing your mindset.
Many successful people have learned about these strategies and have learned how to use it to their advantage by harnessing the power of their thoughts to achieve their life goals.
Why People Overthink
Overthinking is mostly caused by anxiety and depression. If you want to stop overthinking, you need to treat what is causing it. Overthinking mostly happens when you need to make a tough decision or sometimes when you are dealing with your insecurities. If your overthinking is not brought about by any other emotional issue, changing your mindset and thoughts can significantly eliminate overthinking. Overthinking is caused by worries and fears that can be conquered by facing them head-on. There are many ways of managing your emotions and concerns so that you don’t overthink them.
How to Stop Overthinking
1. Manage Your Story
You may not know it, but you are always telling yourself stories about you. It is essential to ask yourself whether those stories you are telling yourself empower you or are holding you back. The stories you tell yourself can have a significant impact on your life. If you are an overthinker, you have probably been telling yourself how you worry more than anyone else or how you are just naturally anxious instead of asking yourself why you overthink. The stories you tell yourself that comfort you even when you overthink are probably the ones holding you back. To cure this problem, you need to identify those stories that you keep telling yourself and then catch yourself in the act of narrating the stories then replace those negative stories with positive ones. By changing your story and managing your emotions, you will start to change your thought process which will change your life.
2. Forget the Past
If you are an overthinker, your problem is focusing on the past rather than the present. You probably spend most of your energy on “what ifs” and “should haves,” which should not be the case since you can’t change the past and will only bring more anxious thoughts. Since you can’t change the past, you need to change the meaning it gives you. By letting go of your past, you stop making past mistakes to control your future decisions. You also become in charge of your emotions and the past bad things done to you only stay as memories. Another way of letting go of the past is by forgiving and letting go of your anger. This is one of the best and easiest ways to change your story and stop your negative thinking.
3. Live in the Present Moment
One of the best ways to overcome overthinking is by living in the moment. By living in the moment, you take control of your emotions and block negative emotions before taking a tall on you. If you have a problem living in the moment, daily rituals like meditation and priming are useful in helping your brain relax and settle at the moment. You start concentrating on what you can hear and see, bringing you to conscious awareness. Doing this repeatedly retrains the brain, and it starts coming naturally.
4. Control your Emotions
Mastering your emotions does not necessarily mean that you bury your negative emotions, but you need to identify and acknowledge them as the primary causes of your overthinking. When you start overthinking due to anxiety, it’s essential to dig deeper and find out what is causing the fears or negative emotion. Sometimes you may not be feeling like you are in control of your life, and you don’t like how your life is progressing, and this makes you overthink. By becoming aware of these root causes, you can devise ways of stopping them before they control your emotions.
5. Focus on Solutions
You may have realized that you are overthinking because you don’t seem to find answers to your problems. You spend too much time thinking about the problem instead of focusing on the solutions. After identifying your problem, you need to spend your energy and time on solutions. Focus on how to solve your problem, and this will change your life. If you are stressed because of your job, a good thing to do is rethink your career path and set goals for yourself that will take you to your destination. If you are overthinking because you feel like your life is out of control, then you need to make the bold moves that will give you back the control you desire. It is always important to remember that big moves need big guts. By taking control of your reality, you get the life you always wanted.
6. Differentiate between Fear and Intuition
People with the problem of overthinking cant differentiate between fear and intuition. Overthinkers are overwhelmed by the fear of making a mistake that they mostly end up not making any decision at all because they feel that something is wrong. By learning to distinguish between fear and intuition, you learn to make the hard decisions that will help you take the necessary steps. The best way to do this is to connect with your body by taking a deep breath and imagining what it would be like to make a decision. This will help you distinguish between fear and intuition and help you learn how to stop overthinking.
7. Ask the Right Questions
People who usually overthink ask themselves the wrong questions like “why am I overthinking”. These thoughts trigger generally ruminating and won’t get you the answers you need. This will probably cause more overthinking. Overthinkers need to concentrate on solution-oriented questions. By asking yourself the rights questions, you identify the areas in your life that need changes, and you can move forward.
8. Stop Trying To Predict the Future
People who overthink spend a lot of time predicting the future, forgetting they only have the present. By having obsessive thoughts about future predictions, you rob yourself of precious time that should have been spent doing productive things. It would be best if you instead spent time doing things that are likely to rejuvenate your morale.
9. Accept Yourself
Many people overthink because they feel that they are not good enough, smart enough, or successful enough. You must accept that you have done your best and that success sometimes depends on things you can’t control. When you realize that you did your part and the rest is not in control, you will be contented with what you have achieved.
10. Be Grateful.
You can’t have both grateful thoughts and regretful thoughts at the same time. When you realize this, it will be imperative to spend your time positively. A positive thing to do is to make a list of the things you feel you are grateful for, and this will go a long way in raising your spirits and eliminate overthinking.
It is always good to keep in mind that life happens for you and not to you. Once you realize this, you will be able to live in the moment and stop overthinking and worrying. Life is never that serious, and you need to convert any negative thought into positive outcomes that lead you to your desired life.
Does meditation helps to stop overthinking?
The answer is Yes! Meditation is a great tool you can use that will help you in two ways.
It helps you to relax yourself and also will help you to reduce the racing thoughts that pops in your mind.
Is overthinking a symptom of an anxiety disorder?
Normally it is. Rememeber that everybody at some point will experience overthinking, however that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have an anxiety disorder.
Is perfectionism related to overthinking?
Yes, perfectionism is commonly related to someone who gets into the overthinking habit.
What is Rumination?
Rumination is when you keep overthinking about the past or the future in a negative way.
Does overthinking disorder exists?
No, it doesn’t exist. It’s not technically a medical term, however overthinking is a common symptom in different anxiety disorders.