What is Overthinking?
Starting off, let’s understand what overthinking is. The standard definition of it is “to think about something excessively or too much”. As far as the research is concerned, it says that it’s natural for a human being to think things through to make a decision, but it becomes overthinking when you can’t get rid of it after a certain time period.
You might have encountered this feeling of thoughts overpowering you at some point in your life where you would have experienced stress, worry, and anxiety. However, this is because we are convinced to be special and out of this, people might wish to overachieve.
People who take this seriously slip down into a mental space where this negative act of overthinking worsens and in the process, makes you feel tired and exhausted. To be honest, overthinking is identified as an unproductive act that neither benefits you in daily life nor the others.
How to know if you are an overthinker?
Sometimes people have the idea that thinking longer about something would prevent bad things from happening. But it’s not the case, is it? Most of the time, overthinking is connected to the past where one regrets what they did, and then this individual would try to do everything to rationalize it by thinking too much.
In fact, there are various signs where one can identify oneself in this context. Here are 7 of them:
1) You ask yourself a lot of “what if” questions and want answers to be “it should like this or it should be like that”
2) Trouble going to sleep because your thoughts don’t seem to stop.
3) Constantly thinking about the conversations that you could have had with others where you wished you had or hadn’t said some things.
4) Trying to think that overthinking can resolve all your problems in the past or might help in the future.
5) Trying to prevent something from happening over and over again.
6) Constantly replaying things in your mind that you don’t like.
7) You aren’t able to think clearly and end up struggling to make decisions.
Why do we overthink things?
Why does a human brain want to overthink? Is it because one is in constant search of security, pleasure, and comfort? Problems such as self-esteem and self-doubt are the common causes of overthinking. Thinking generally has no negative effects, it all starts when the brain gets into the analyzing mode.
Running all possible scenarios in your head to predict what your next step will be in order to reduce your unhappiness. Doing this not only kills your happiness but also prevents you from taking necessary actions as you can’t easily get out of your analytical situation.
The problem with this is, that whether you spend 30 mins or multiple days overthinking, it is not going to enhance your life in any form. Time spent observing your thoughts and learning from your behavior is an act of being productive.
Why is important to stop Overthinking?
Usually, people think it is mostly about self-reflection, a learning stage. Apparently, they are two different things.
Self-reflection involves thinking that helps an individual to grow in different aspects of life, whereas overthinking involves constant chattering within oneself that leads to a wastage of energy.
You might probably feel that overthinking would benefit you in certain ways, but no, that’s where you lose your ability to think clearly and make decisions.
It interferes with your problem-solving skills. Also, you won’t be capable of living in the present moment, which is the most important part of life for you as a human being.
Overthinking may cause unusually high activity in your brain that is said to have negative effects on people. One study has shown that excessive activity uses up an important protein, which may reduce one’s lifespan. Furthermore, there is a form of overthinking that can lead to anxiety, overeating, depression, and self-harm.
How to Stop Overthinking?
As we have discussed earlier about what overthinking is and how destructive it can be, we will now go into how to get reduce it or how to get rid of it completely.
1) Identify your thought patterns: This step surely comes first and is the most important one because once you get to know how your thoughts work or you find out what’s triggering them, it gets easier after that.
2) Observe your responding nature: The way you respond to your thoughts can keep you in a cycle of repetitive thinking, where you can’t act accordingly. Self-awareness is the key.
Make notes on how these thoughts affect your mood and so on, in that very moment where you find yourself going through various things in your mind, not after or before.
3) Stop trying to control everything: Yes, that’s right. Don’t try to control your thoughts, emotions, or situations. It is an act of perfectionists and can contribute to pushing others away. With this type of worrying, you always anticipate and worry about almost anything that’s going on in your life.
4) Let go of the past: When there is constantly chattering about the past or the future, there is a lot of energy that is being used up. Most of the time the questions deal with “what ifs” or “should haves”.
Past is just memories recorded in your brain. It is of no significance by itself until we try and give meaning to it, thereby wasting our precious energy.
5) Live in the moment: This one is the key here. Living in the moment means that you are truly enjoying yourself. It is the instant perception of beauty and wholeness and there is a great delight in it. It is that moment where there is not a single ounce of concern regarding the past or the future.
The ability to be in this moment has greater significance for your mental wellness where you receive true happiness, peace, and joy.
6) Be conscious of your fear: Don’t let your fears consume you. Fear of making a mistake prevents you from enjoying yours here and now. Fear can only exist before or after an event, but never in the active present. Hence, it is not an actuality.
Go with your intuitive nature to make decisions. Intuition has no conflict whatsoever, whereas fear, anger, guilt, and other negative emotions fight against you and not for you.
Click here to know how different types of meditation can help with overthinking and other mental health issues