Hey you, get out of my head!
My internal dialogue signalling me I’ve been overthinking.
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.
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. Next minute you fancy 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:
Maybe I should’ve said differently.
Our mind keeps going back to past events that we can’t change.
When you beat yourself over what you had said or done, overthinking can disrupt your life.
The same thing is true when we overthink events yet to unfold in the future. Or when we strive for perfection.
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
Here are 5 ways I stopped overthinking and start living in the present moment.
How to Stop Overthinking Your Life and Start Living
1. Catch Overthinking Instantly
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, get out of my head.
After a few times, I got good at catching myself. It stops the flow of overthinking right there and then.
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.
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 place when I knew it wasn’t helping me one bit.
It just added fuel to my already fretful mind.
In my wild imagination, the prospect of the upcoming interview got more terrifying than it should.
I had to calm my mind.
So, I deliberately switched my focus to “how I’d feel when I’m offered the job.”
The mood and energy shifted slowly but surely.
I 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.
Watch this funny Will Smith talk: I promise you’ll love it!
He shows wonderfully how worries and anxiety could waste our time for 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
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:
Nope, not until 12:00-12:15.
Stay put: it’s not your turn yet!
I promise myself to revisit “the issue” during the time slot, pull myself back to now, and focus on the task at hand.
When the allocated time comes, I get all of my thoughts down on paper.
If there are things that 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 let them go.
4. Ignore Assumptions and Seek Facts
Don’t let overthinking create problems that don’t exist.
– Zig Ziglar
I remember 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 totally differently 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.
I’ve learned that jumping to the conclusion always leads to overthinking.
I now train myself to seek facts with a direct approach and don’t entertain assumptions.
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.
Keep reminding myself I can control where I place my awareness in 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.
It’s all our own doing, therefore, we can undo it by watching out where we’re letting our energy flow and move it to correct paths.
Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
– Dale Carnegie
Be mindful of your choice of where you place your awareness.
And focus on the present moment every second of the day.
Overthinking can affect our mental and physical well-being destructively, but we have the power to tame it and calm our mind.
Also, despite all our yesterday’s worries and stress by overthinking, nothing we imagined would happen, happened today.
Put a stop to today’s overthinking and welcome tomorrow with a light heart.
With repeated practice, you can stop overthinking and start living in the present moment.
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