Do you lie awake at night because your brain won’t turn off? Do you beat yourself up for that mistake you made yesterday? Do you worry about how you’re going to survive that meeting with your boss tomorrow? Do you ruminate about what your friend told you the other night?
Regardless of the situation, it seems you can’t stop overthinking and clogging your mind with upsetting thoughts. You keep replaying the same scene over and over again in your head.
What did they say, what did you say….what you wish you had said.
Everyone overthinks something at one time or another, others just can’t stop. A constant inner monologue that never quiets and leads to stress and lack of productivity.
Stewing over the same scenario often leads to negative thoughts: “I shouldn’t have done that. Now they think I am not competent” or “I wish I had the courage to say that. I was right”. These negative thoughts often bring about feelings of worries, anger or anxiety.
Overthinking takes on different shapes: endless spending of time and energy to reach a decision then questioning that decision, trying to predict somebody’s reaction to something or fretting about the outcome of a future event.
People who tend to overthink often jump to terrible thoughts of what may happen in the future: they may suddenly imagine being hit by a bus or envision their kids in dangerous situations.
Overthinking may also involve negative thoughts like: “My business will never succeed!”, “I will never get the chance I deserve!” or “I will never find the right partner’. Overthinkers are also typically concerned about how other people will interpret their actions. Consider the obsession with checking how many likes our latest Instagram post has reached.
This impulse gets in the way of achieving a happy life and holds you back from being productive and staying focused on your goals.
That’s why it’s important to understand when overthinking becomes too much.
The good news is we can train our minds to think better so we can live better.
How? Simple. By engaging in daily actions that will train you not to overreact and remain in control from the inside out!
WHY DO YOU OVERTHINK?
First of all, to learn how to stop it, it’s important to understand what triggers overthinking.
Try to recall how many decisions of any kind have you taken today so far. Wake immediately or snooze the alarm? Porridge or toast? Skirt or trousers? Black trousers or navy? Sushi or Thai? Go to the gym or order a pizza?
Eminent sources such as Psychology Today claim that an adult makes the astonishing average amount of 35,000 remotely conscious decisions per day (226.7 decisions each day on just food alone according to researchers at Cornell University).
As much as we love the idea of living in a free country, choices come with responsibilities.
Having a vast variety of choices is wonderful but they come with the constant pressure of making the right one.
This becomes mentally and emotionally exhausting which makes us unable to perform well in front of what really matters.
Trying to make a perfect choice every single time is a wild goose chase that unsurprisingly leads to dissatisfaction and stress causing your productivity level to drop. Spending too much time thinking about something in endless circles makes it more difficult to act and even more difficult to sleep at night.
HOW TO STOP OVERTHINKING
Sure. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible!
Here are 7 ways to stop overthinking everything:
1. BE AWARE
Realizing you are thinking too much is the beginning of a change. Start to pay attention to the way you think. If you are thinking the same thoughts over and over again and worrying about things you don’t have control over, then acknowledge it.
2. SCHEDULE TIME FOR REFLECTION
Most of the time you will realize the problem is not the problem but the massive amount of overthinking you are doing with it.
Instead, devote some time for reflection. Schedule something like 20 minutes per day of “thinking time”. Allow yourself to think all those thoughts but do not let them bother you outside of this timeframe.
Whenever you find your mind reverting to overthinking, remind yourself that there is an appropriate time for it and move onto something more productive instead.
3. MANAGE YOUR THOUGHTS
Select the thoughts that are important to you and those that aren’t you can swipe away like they’re on Tinder.
It’s really easy to get carried away with worries and bad thoughts. Challenge yourself to reshuffle your priority list and put every matter into perspective.
Life gets overly complicated if you start to fight every battle of yesterday and tomorrow. Live in the present. Be mindful of what you can change and what is outside of your control. Invest your energy into everything that matters right now and every problem you can fix.
4. CHOOSE TO PROBLEM SOLVE
Overthinking is not helpful but looking for solutions certainly is.
Stop thinking about what can go wrong and start thinking about what you can do to make it right. Ask yourself what you don’t like about a situation and what can you do to change it. What mistakes should you avoid? And what can you learn from the ones you made to avoid future problems? You will certainly find there is something you can do to make better many situations (that fight with your friend maybe can be clarified or if you’re not happy at work maybe there are people you can talk about it or maybe it is time for a change…but tripping into endless thinking and negative thoughts will stop you from focusing on finding a solution from what is causing you worrying and stress).
However, there will be things you don’t control or you can’t fix. Accept you are not able to change it and let it go.
5. AIM FOR EXCELLENCE NOT PERFECTION
There are important decisions to make in your life that you will want to dedicate enough time and thinking to. And there is a multitude of decisions that won’t make a massive impact on your life. For all those, you can choose a ‘good enough’ strategy and move forward. Focus on the bigger picture and what truly matters.
Avoid comparisons with other people’s decisions and accept that what you decide is enough, what you have is enough, what you do is enough. Relax 🙂
6. PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
When a thought is bothering you pause it and ask yourself if this thing will matter in a week, in a month, in a year and in 10 years. The answer to these questions will suddenly release pressure from any occurring issues.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to overcome is your own mind and realize how much non-sense you waste time on. Of course not so easy when modern life is filled with pressure and expectations basically on everything we do and let’s face it sometimes it would feel good to know you are getting it just right.
That’s why it is important to learn to not let events control you and let important matters, values, and priorities stay centered in your life.
Practicing mindfulness and control your reactions will teach you how to be happier as most of the time stress and frustration come from the way you react to what happens in your life rather than the event itself. The ability to not overreacting and stay calm is an essential practice to learn and master to put your heart at peace and declutter your mind.
7. GET UN-S.T.U.C.K.
Shira-Gura, an Israeli well-being coach and author, developed the S.T.U.C.K. Method to overcome overthinking.
Her method follows these principles :
S – Stop.
When your mind is cluttered with thoughts it is essential to pause it and stop. Separate thoughts from emotions, bring yourself back to be right here right now.
T – Tell.
What emotions are you stuck on? Allow yourself some time to dive into those thoughts and feel those emotions.
U – Uncover.
Make a list of what’s in your mind and investigate every thought one by one. Validate the truth behind every single thought. Just because you think something doesn’t mean it is true.
C – Consider.
Get unstuck by getting rid of any thought isn’t entirely true and replacing it with a new thought that is 100% true. What other points of view can you consider for that situation and how can you change it?
K – Kindness.
Don’t be too critical with yourself. The kindness step is dedicated to forgiving yourself for your weakness and to remind yourself you are human. It’s ok to feel stuck over a certain thought.
When we are drowning in our thoughts, when we overthink, it’s easy to lose our way. Sometimes what we need is just to stop and allow ourselves some time to realize that thoughts are simply thoughts and we shouldn’t let them control us.
When we stop overthinking, we stop worrying about things that aren’t real or events we can’t control.
I hope now you will realize you can make the time and have the power to act on things that are important in your life. And that thought changes everything…
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