We think because we are alive breathing and we like to question things. There’s a side in us which questions a lot and likes to analyze every little thing. Unfortunately, though, sometimes this becomes a habit for many and it can get so intense that it could ruin your life. This becomes a toxic cycle difficult to escape and everyone around you also might suffer as a result. The easiest way to stop overthinking though is to drop all expectations. Without expectations, there are only pleasant surprises.
Entering the mind of an Overthinker
When someone thinks it starts off normal, but then somewhere they get stuck in a loop. They keep trying to go deeper and deeper and while they do this, they think they are solving some sort of a problem. But the reality is they are trying to find problems where there are none.
Often it comes from a place of feeling vulnerable. We’re all somewhat fearful of the unknown and future. We keep trying to solve these problems within our heads. An overthinker dwells either in the past or the future with no regards for the present which they could work on.
Simply put all it takes is a single event or a memory to start a domino effect of overthinking and linking all the negative experiences while ignoring all the neutral and positive ones. This goes the other way too often the overthinker will only think about all the positive experiences and dwell on their current negative situation without reminding themselves of how they reached those positive states previously.
Games Your Mind Plays
Ironic process theory
Here’s a classic example of the ironic process theory, If you ask someone to not think of a pink elephant they will be more likely to picture it. This happens because deliberate attempts to suppress thoughts make them more likely to appear in your mind. So by extension brute forcing your way out of overthinking is usually very difficult.
Your mind loves taking shortcuts wherever it can. We shove so much information in that little thing that it has to take many shortcuts. In doing so, however, it can also take shortcuts of your emotional interpretations of certain situations in your head.
Playing the blame game
Whenever there is anything that you perceive to be negative and if you can find someone to pin the blame on to someone else, you will more than often take it. This is a normal thing and almost everyone has done this at least once in it life. But coming out of this toxic cycle can calm your mind.
Understanding the risks
Once you overthink it’s a downward spiral from here. It will become an inescapable loop which is very difficult to break. I still suffer from this problem sometimes as I write this, but with time and patience it can get better for you.
You will look at everything with an eye of suspicion. Specially if you’re isolated or introverted, this is something which happens often. You might be fearful of unknown people or trying new things because you just can’t stop thinking.
Fear slowly infests its way into your daily life and becomes a part of your entire identity. This isn’t the kind of fear that saves it but the kind that destroys you.
Getting your life back
Once you are deep into the habit of overthinking every situation, the real quest begins when you decide you want to change it. Realizing the problem and starting your effort towards talking care of this problem is the first step.
Get into a habit of making your thinking sessions into constructive criticism sessions instead. Being constructive about a problem not only lets you reach to a conclusion, but it also keeps you sane. When you look at problems as things to solve you will start to think of ways how you will solve them rather than simmering them in your mind. If you are a over thinker, this is the best you can do for now.
Once you learn how you can end the loop which keeps pulling you deeper, you can keep practicing it as long as you need it or until you find a better way.
Observe the lies your mind feeds you. You could even bait your mind into wandering off into pointless loops of overthinking over harmless little things. Catching yourself in the middle of such loops can be a great training for you to apply it.
The most important path though is to be aware of yourself and the things and people around you. Learn to live in the now and spend little to no time inside your head. We all have internal monologues, some just have a voice that keeps going on even when you ask for it to stop. But there’s no chance for that to happen if you don’t spend time inside your head.
You should also rephrase all the questions that enter your mind with a better context. Instead of thinking “I’m stuck in my life” tell yourself “I will pursue a more fulfilling lifestyle”.
There could be times when you realize you just can’t stop overthinking and that is a part of your trait. Which is perfectly fine. But you need to learn how to use it to your advantage. Instead of using this trait of overthinking to damage your mind, you could channel it towards more productive things. In doing so, you just might find the formula that works for you.
Most people who overthink have a very strong internal voice. Working on your internal voice just might solve it. To achieve this, you need to stand up to this voice and be as critical as you can. Every single time you hear an internal voice, just try to criticize it without fail.
Overthinking is a plague that infests almost everyone, but even then it can still be used for good if you could switch the way you go about thinking. Constructive thinking is far superior to gloating and simmer over things that happened years ago and relating them the current situations at hand.
Distractions can be another amazing tool to keep you from overthinking. Try to stay present as much as you can and work with your internal voice if you can. If you can’t work with your internal voice, stop trying to stay inside your head for too long and figure out other things to do.