What is holding people back from the life that they truly want to live?
I would say that one thing which is very common and destructive is that they don’t know how to stop overthinking. However, there is a difference very thin line between Careful Consideration Vs Overthinking. Now, thinking things through can be a great thing of course but getting lost in a sort of overthinking is a kind of unnamed disorder. We often draw up worst-case scenarios in our minds with no or very little evidence of such happenings.
People overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier than it actually is. They overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore and build anxiety from nowhere.
Sometimes we overanalyze and deconstruct things to the extent that the happiness that comes from just enjoying that moment would disappear.
Over a period of time, I’ve learned how you can make this issue look very small and if it pops up then you will know – how to deal with it. So let’s take a deep dive into it -.
1. Put things into a wider perspective.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life. So when you are thinking and thinking about something, the first step is to ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks? Why I am saying this because – I’ve found that widening my perspective by using this simple question can quickly snap me out of overthinking and catastrophic predictions and help me to let go of that situation.
It allows me to finally stop thinking about something and focus on my time and energy on something else that actually does matter to us.
2. Set a short time limit for a decision.
If you do not have a time limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can not just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it's a small or bigger decision.
3. Stop setting your day up for stress and overthinking.
You can’t totally avoid overwhelming or very stressful days. But you can minimize the number of them in your month and year by getting a good start to your day and by not setting yourself up for unnecessary stress, overthinking and suffering. Three things that can help here:
Get a good start.
The best way to influence your day is how you start your day tends to often set the tone for your day. A stressed morning leads to a stressful day. Consuming or battling with certain negative information as you start your car, Bike, Scooty, Cycle or Ride public transport to your job tends to lead to more pessimistic thoughts during the rest of your day.
Single-task and take regular breaks.
This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and getting it done will not put you in flames. And this somewhat relaxed mindset but with a narrow focus will help you to think clearly and decisively and avoid winding up in a stressed and overthinking headspace.
Minimize your daily input.
Too much information, too many times of just taking a few minutes to check your inbox, Facebook or Twitter account or how your blog or website is doing leads to more input and clutter in your mind as your day progresses. And so it becomes harder to think in a simple and clear way and easier to lapse back into that familiar overthinking habit. So follow the ‘ Time Boxing’ technique’ to handle this distraction.
4. Become a person of action.
When you know how to get started by taking certain concrete actions each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking. Setting deadlines and a good tone for the day are two things that have helped me to become a much more person of action. Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that has worked really well. It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want to flee into procrastination.
5. Realize that you cannot control everything.
Trying to think things through 20 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you don’t risk making a mistake, failing or looking like a fool. But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone.
Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you today may have has failed in his /her time. They have made mistakes and all of us do, so why to make a too much fuss.
But in most cases, they’ve also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.
So stop trying to control everything because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance. This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.
6. Say stop in a situation where you know you cannot think straight.
It took a bit of practice to get this to work but I’ve gotten pretty good at postponing thinking in this way. And I know from my experience that when I revisit a situation with some level-headed thinking then in 80% of the cases the issue is very small to nonexistent. And if there is a real issue then my mind is prepared to deal with it in a much better and more constructive way.
7. Don’t get lost in vague fears.
Another trap we fall into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that we get lost in vague fears about a situation in our lives. And our minds run wild and simply from nowhere it will create disastrous scenarios about what could happen if we do something.
So I've learned a better way to break out of such a vicious cycle and that is to first ask myself: - Honestly, what is the worst that could happen?
And when I have figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that happens but often chances are very unlikely of that happening. I have found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce. Finding a different perspective and clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes and a bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.
8. Spend more of your time in the present moment.
Being in the present moment in my everyday life rather than with my past mistakes or possible future is no way of living your new day each day over and over again for years together. With my life experiences, I replace more and more of overthinking time with the things which are there right before me now and here right now instead.
Three ways that I often use to reconnect with the present moment and to practice mindfulness are:
Slow down a bit on whatever you are doing right now. Moving slower will allow you to be more mindful of your actions and provide you with much-needed self-reflective time. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right.
Disrupt and reconnect.
If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then one of my favourite mindfulness practices is to disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself: STOP! This vocalization will reconnect you with the present moment and will bring you to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin. It really works- Give it a try.
9. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.
Your social environment is an important thing to think about if you want to break destructive thought patterns and move out of the cycle of overthinking in the long term. And this is not just about the people and groups close to you in real life. But also about what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life. So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourage and tend to create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.
Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and input that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tend to strengthen your overthinking habit.
10. Be aware of the issue (and remind yourself throughout your day)
Being aware of your challenge is important to break the habit of overthinking. But if you’re thinking that you’ll just remember to stop overthinking during your normal day, it is not going to happen simpliciter. Stressful times will quickly put you back into an overthinking mode. And whenever this happens, Say to yourself – I needed help and it is not hard to get it because I have created a few reminders to get rid of it.
My main one was a note on my daily Diary page – It said, “Keep things extremely simple”. Seeing this many times during my day helped me to snap out of overthinking faster and to over time greatly minimize this negative habit.
Two other kinds of reminders that you can use are:
A small written note.
Simply use a post-it note or something similar and write down my whiteboard phrase, a question like “Am I overcomplicating this?” or some other reminder that appeals to you. Put that note where you cannot avoid seeing it like for example on your bedside table, your bathroom mirror or beside your computer screen. Choose your place.
A reminder on your smartphone.
Write down one of the phrases above or one of your own choosing in a reminder app on your smartphone.
Take good care & enjoy reading your dose of cerebral happiness.
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