“I never feel alone, thoughts accompany me all the time”. But when these thoughts become overwhelming, we start feeling exhausted. Overthinking is nothing but dwelling on the same thoughts to the extent of getting anxious. Instead of solving the problem, our mind rehash conversations that aren’t productive.
There are 2 possible patterns of overthinking.
Rumination about the past (Constantly thinking about an event in the past or failed decisions).
- Alas, I could have taken that job or have prepared much better for the interview.
- It was a bad relationship. But how did I fell into this.
- I wasn’t able to present well. My colleague might think I’m a noob and undeserving.
Worrying about the future (things aren’t happened yet and may be never).
- I am going to underperform tomorrow. I’m so undeserving to give the presentation.
- What he/she will think about me. I’m afraid of being rejected. Think I messed up things.
- The place is so new to me. How will I adjust in this environment? Even I’m not familiar with people and places.
We often find above thoughts continuously running over in our mind. Though they are assumptions but shutting down them is never easy.
According to a study, 73% of adults between 25-35 years of age overthink, as do 52% of 45-55 age group.
Shocking numbers!! aren’t they?
There’s a common saying, “We become what our thoughts are”. In the midst of persistent worrying, we become defensive, possessive, confused and afraid to take actions. It tarnish our personality and make us feel under attack by some mysterious forces all the time.
But again, there’s no problem in this world which can’t be solved and excessive thinking is no different.
Here are 7 simple ideas to stop overthinking everything
1. Neutralize every negative thought
If you’ve ever noticed, overthinking often starts and ends with self-criticism. This takes us away from finding a possible solution.
Thoughts work like a magnet whether positive or negative. Where positive thoughts make us believe to be a problem solver contrarily negative thoughts drain our energy.
And yes, they cancel each other! For neutralizing an acid you need a base.
Thereby, whenever you find a negative thought coming, oppose or replace it with a positive thought. Let’s understand it with an example.
Negative :- I don’t think I can complete my exam syllabus in 2 days. I might fail the exams.
Neutralize :- Okay but I don’t need to go through the whole syllabus. I’ll mark the important topics/chapters and analyzing some previous year question paper. Great! it looks so easy and resolved. Yes I can do it.
Negative :- I’m not gonna perform well in tomorrow’s presentation colleagues will make fun of me.
Neutralize :- Okay but I have some amazing insights to share. I’ve done my research and many of them will hear it for the first time, they’ll be awestruck . I can dummy present in front of my friends or family member. It’s a serious and exciting topic and I have to handle it responsibly.
We’ve to understand that it’s we who govern thought patterns. Every pattern requires an evidence to prove its existence. Yes fear is real and it do have evidence of existence but then it has no base in front of powerful and inspiring thoughts.
Neutralizing or replacing a negative thinking pattern with a positive one is a process coming with practice. Believe, mastering neutralizing to stop overthinking can convert you from a chronic thinker to a problem solver.
2. Observe the pattern while overthinking
Not all but many will relate to this,
It was a normal day at office and you been traveling back to home. Then you realize project submission date is overdue. The workload is too much and may be you hate this job. People are so rude at office and damn this office politics. Then you think how non-serious you were while choosing your career. May be life could be better, your college friends might be living there dream life.
And here goes the dangerous negative thoughts thread.
We can change the plot but end result would be the same “dwelling and stewing on problems”. In the above example, we’re alone and idle. This allowed random thoughts to overshadow the surroundings. A case appears(in above example it’s project submission) that isn’t handle well by our mind. With time, more similar negative thoughts and the unchanged surrounding(traveling back home) made it worse. Hence, we ended up dwelling on incidents that can’t be changed or others never be occurring.
But what if we make a phone call or plug in ear pods to have some music just when a negative thought appears. May be we can think of taking a shower and then making a plan for project after reaching home.
The whole idea is to observe the pattern and working against it. Think about more such patterns and find distractions to stop overthinking again.
3. Widen the view if can’t stop overthinking
A problem is a trap which make us dwell too much. It’s natural to feel suffocating or stuck while thinking continuously about a complex situation. Also, it would be wrong to ignore the ground reality and look for a fake escape.
Overthinking narrows our far-sightedness and confined it to an exhausting zone. In this zone, room for solution isn’t enough and hence we get trapped in it. But when we widen our view and look at the bigger picture, things do look relaxing. You believe that in long run the current problem doesn’t stand anywhere. The tension decreases and the room for solution increases.
We could feel sad for moving away from native city. But contrarily, will have more exposure to new tradition and a more confident life. It feels relaxing whenever the view is widen and that’s where solution is found.
4. Identify your problems and write it down
There’ve been thoughts hovering in our mind for years. They look for a particular time and surrounding and then hit in an uncontrolled way. The funnier part is, it becomes so familiar that we don’t challenge them anymore and let them conquer our minds.
Well, this needs a serious concern, Ignorance to a negative thought weakens our efforts to stop overthinking. The first thing need to do is identify such negative thoughts and then “unfriend” them. After that, write down all those incoming negative signals along with a possible solution. This helps mind to recall the solution every time the same negative thought annoys.
Once we identify and write it down, managing them will be easier.
5. Unmask Your fears
Our fears keep us on defensive mode. When we don’t find any escape, mind starts making crazy speculations.
The curiosity of mind oscillates both in negative and positive directions. Hence, it’s the tendency of the mind to overthink about fear till the worst-case scenario.
Until we identify what exactly haunts us, mind would never able to outgrow it. Time and again, same fears on similar occasions/surroundings will continue to make us overthink.
Many of us can’t stop overthinking about loosing money and scared getting into financial crises. Possibly, overspending and money mismanagement are root causes instead of income. But, stewing on problems never got our attention to the real cause of the problem.
This is the reason we need to identify fears, finding the actual root and nullifying it. It would take time to find and fix the root cause but at the end we are done with overthinking on the same issue.
6. Manage your emotions
Emotions have this power to govern our mood and mind. It gives rise to a particular state of mind and hence all the thoughts hover around it.
We don’t even realize when a small fight with our friend made us recall all the past traumas. Just buying a lottery ticket or investing in stocks land us in a fairy world of extreme wealth and luxuries. To not discriminate both the thoughts are exhausting and result of poor emotion management.
An emotionally volatile mind do gets exhausted, either from sadness or excitement. It’s important to isolate reason of current emotion with past or upcoming experiences. This delinking helps mind to overcome the emotional state much easier and earlier.
7. Practice Meditation
Just think about the long devastating impact overthinking have done to our mind.
No matter what remedies we’re taking to overcome overthinking, the fighting spirit of our mind needs to be replenish. As it’s a long battle against a chronic disease we do need a source of continuous strength and inspiration.
We need a calm our mind when hurricane of thoughts hits. Meditation is something that helps us to achieve mindfulness. When we’re aware of what happening to our mind at exact moment, it becomes easier to distract it.
When we make sure no negative thought gets entrance, the further struggle is dodged.
Overthinking consumes energy and push us in a negative zone. Whether it’s a guilt of past or concerns of future, both make us think too much. This doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it.
We conclude the article as follows
- Neutralize every negative thought.
- Observe the pattern at time you start overthinking.
- Widen the view.
- Identify your problems and write it down.
- Unmask Your fears.
- Manage your emotions.
- Practice meditation