Hey you, get out of my head!
That’s me assuming a commanding officer tone chasing away the overthinking side of me.
Because I caught myself overthinking yet again.
If you’re like me, a chronic, semi-chronic or recovering over-thinker, let me first assure you that with repeated practice, you can tame your mind not to go into overdrive all the time.
You can train your brain to stay calm and clear your mind.
So don’t get frustrated and annoyed with yourself with your tendency to stew over stuff.
Most of all, know that overthinking isn’t always bad.
Remember the last time when deciding your next holiday destination and weighing up several options?
One minute you want this hotel, and the next minute a different one.
Overthinking allows you to be cautious and conservative with your choices. And in certain situations, well prepared.
The trouble lies when our overthinking gets in a way that is not helpful and it becomes a mental agony.
You know those racing thoughts of:
- I should’ve said it differently.
- I could’ve helped her.
- I could’ve saved more money.
- I should’ve stayed with him.
Our mind keeps going back to past events that we can’t change.
When you beat yourself over what you said or done, overthinking can disrupt your life, causing anxiety and stress.
The same thing is true when we overthink events yet to unfold in the future. Or when we strive for perfection.
Be Aware of what Happens When You Overthink
If you see any of the signs below, you may suffer from the negative aspect of overthinking:
- A lack of sleep
- Holding on to past
The good news is overthinking isn’t a permanent thing. Neither are the above signs of the negative aspect of overthinking.
You can train your brain to stop overthinking and stop worrying. You can calm and clear your mind. You can relax instantly and reduce stress quickly.
From my experience, I know everyone can learn how to live in the moment and stop overthinking.
Below are 5 effective ways I used to stop myself from overthinking.
How to Stop Overthinking Your Life and Start Living
1. Catch Overthinking Instantly and Stop Its Flow
Overthinking is a dream-killer. Sometimes you can drown yourself in your own thoughts.
– Steve Maraboli
The moment I catch myself overthinking, I talk it out loud:
- Uh-oh, you’re doing it again.
- Hey you, get out of my head.
- Nah, not again.
It stops the flow of overthinking right there and then and pulls you right back out of overthinking and into the present.
Whether it’s borne out of being a perfectionist or from stress and doubt over past/future events, recognise the moment you overthink.
Catch it instantly and put a stop to it before being pulled into the constant barrage of thoughts before it drowns you.
2. Replace the Thoughts
Let our advance worrying become advanced thinking and planning.
– Winston Churchill
Do you remember the night before your first job interview?
I remember worried sick about it.
What if I mess up the interview and don’t get the job?
I didn’t understand why I kept visiting that anxious place when I knew it wasn’t helping me one bit.
It just added fuel to my already fretful mind.
Every second, my anxiety about the upcoming interview seemed doubled, then trebled.
I had to calm and clear my mind.
So I deliberately started switching my focus to “how I’d feel when I’m offered the job.”
Slowly, but surely, the mood and energy started shifting.
I then diverted my time and focus from the unhelpful worries and anxiety to productive research.
I started learning about the company, and potential interview questions to practise.
When you recognise yourself overthinking, replace your thoughts with something positive and engage in positive action.
Take advantage of “can’t be in two places at the same time” because thankfully we can only have one thought at a time.
Watch this funny Will Smith talk: I promise you’ll love it!
He shows brilliantly how we (our worries and anxiety) could waste our time for… precisely nothing.
3. Allocate a Time Slot for Overthinking
Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.
– Robert Herjavec
Here’s another trick I use when I catch myself going into a loop of overthinking: I create a time slot specifically for overthinking, for example, 12:00-12:15.
When I’m derailed from my task into overthinking, I say:
Wait until 12:00-12:15.
No, just no.
Hush, it’s not your turn yet!
And I only revisit “the issue” at the assigned time.
This allows me to be in the moment and focus on the task at hand.
When the time allocated comes, I get all of my thoughts down on paper.
If there are things I can do something about, I get on with it straight away.
Pick up the phone and have a conversation with a friend about stuff that’s been bothering me since we met, for example.
Things that I can’t do anything?
I cross it off: I’ve given thought and concluded to let it go.
4. Ignore Assumptions and Seek Facts
Don’t let overthinking create problems that don’t exist.
– Zig Ziglar
I remember the many sleepless nights I had over the mounting debt.
Overthinking just reinforced the worst scenario, causing me stress, worry and anxiety.
One telephone conversation revealed that I could resolve my situation. It was just different from what I had assumed.
Companies were understanding, willing to work with me. All those worries and overthinking were for nothing.
Your partner’s recent mood swing may have nothing to do with you.
Your assumption on your annual performance appraisal can be plain wrong until you talk to your supervisor.
I’ve learned that jumping to a conclusion always leads to overthinking.
I now train myself to seek facts with a direct approach and don’t entertain assumptions.
It allowed me to stop overthinking and start living in the present.
5. Watch Out Energy Flow
Overthinking is often a product of underdoing.
– Yehuda Berg
Just as everyone has 24 hours a day, we only have so much energy each day.
When we focus on one thing, something got to give.
So I got conscious of what other important things I might neglect while my energy is being spent on overthinking.
I keep reminding myself I can control where I place my awareness at any moment.
We have the luxury of choosing what to focus on.
No one is pointing a gun at you and me to overthink while neglecting some other important aspects of our life.
Overthinking and worrying are all our own doing, therefore, we can undo them.
It may seem hard at first.
But start by observing where you’re letting your energy flow. Keep moving it back to the correct paths each time it goes off track.
You’ll soon learn to stop overthinking and relax.
Overthinking can affect our mental and physical well-being destructively, but we have the power to tame it and calm and clear our mind.
Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
– Dale Carnegie
Despite all our yesterday’s worries and stress by overthinking, nothing we imagined would happen, happened today.
Use 5 effective ways to stop overthinking in this post, put a stop to today’s overthinking and welcome tomorrow with a light heart.
With repeated practice, you can stop overthinking your life and start living in the present moment.
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