Are you an overthinker? Do you find yourself being kept awake at night by an overactive mind? Do you find yourself coming up with different scenarios in your head on why you should not have done this or why someone said that, etc…?
Well, I have been an overthinker and although sometimes it is good to think about our actions, overthinking can be very bad for us mentally. Many times we think up false scenarios and begin to respond and act on them.
I hold a B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD, Post doc, you name it in overthinking almost every situation. It wasn’t like that before, but certain life experiences made me more weary and slowly I went down into the rabbit hole called overthinking.
I imagine the mind of an overthinker to be a busy road, with no traffic light, filled with people, cars and animals all in a hurry, to get somewhere and not being able to move. Electronic billboards all around displaying various conflicting messages, roadside sellers calling out to buyers, a storm brewing etc…, chaos everywhere.
Overthinking affects the people around us and can be quite confusing for them. They may not understand how one moment you are all happy, and then the next you have thought up one negative scenario and immediately your mood changes.
The bad news about overthinking, is that it makes us lose touch with reality and become a slave to those illusions we have created in our heads.
Instead on acting, we keep on repeating the same thoughts in our head and no progress is made. An overthinker constantly remains in their head.
Another bad news is that most of the scenarios an overthinker makes up, are always negative.
It is the cause of a lot of worry and anxiety, and can also lead to depression.
The good news is that we can, and are able to actively control our thoughts. We can train our minds on how to think and act, but it does take a lot of work.
What does an overthinker do?
* An overthinker is constantly stuck in the past. Many things that have happened, as a overthinker you keep regurgitating those thoughts and focusing on why and how it happened and paying no attention to finding a solution
*You think up the worst case scenario in every circumstance. This way you are constantly filled with negative thoughts and emotions.
*You mood is always unstable. You go from hot to cold in seconds, and vice versa.
*You amplify mistakes in your head and make them seem bigger than they already are.
* You read more meanings into words, and the actions of others than there are, and many times blow things way out of proportion.
It is important to know that there is a link between overthinking and the decline in your mental health. Click To Tweet
How do you stop overthinking?
I will share some of things that have helped me. As with almost everything in life, it takes being intentional.
#1. Be aware
Overthinking is passive. The thoughts just flow without control
So when you find yourself slipping into that, become more conscious and begin to act more actively.
Being aware will help you realize what is happening and help you make efforts to stop those thoughts in their track.
#2 Walk out the thoughts
You can literally walk thoughts out of your mind. Or run them out which ever you choose.
Find something to do actively that will take your mind off those thoughts
#3 Practice concentrating
Concentrating helps you focus your thoughts
Pay more attention to what you are doing in the present. Take deep breaths. When you overthink, you are often lost in your thoughts, learn to be present. Once your mind is able to concentrate, then you can filter out unnecessary thoughts.
Practicing how to concentrate, takes time and consistency.
#4 Move past mistakes
Try as much as possible not to dwell so much on your mistakes. This is fuel for overthinkers.
You cannot change things that have happened, so why dwell constantly in them? It is only in fiction, that time travel is currently allowed.
#5 Use your words
Speak to yourself. When you find yourself slipping, use your words. Repeat phrases to yourself.
Examples of some phrases, ‘what is past is past’,… ‘I am focusing on my happiness and peace of mind now‘,… ‘I am not my mistakes‘,…’Worry does not solve anything‘,…
#6 Stop being afraid
Always remember that fear is a torment. Something bad happened in the past or you failed in an area in the past and you have now been presented with a new opportunity.
Don’t spend all your time thinking up failure. Its new and completely different. See it as avenue for fresh start.
Overthinking is the act of creating problems that aren’t even there.