Ok, all of you blog followers, I have a tough question for you. I would like to see a show of hands. How many of you will admit to being over thinkers? Come on, I see you squirming, and avoiding my eye contact! Raise your hands! Would it help to see me raise my hand, too? Yup, guilty as charged!
I admit it. I try my darnedest to live in the present moment, go with the flow, understand and accept that people are going to do what they are going to do, and try to find peace with life. But sometimes, and with some things that mean a great deal to me, I definitely curse myself by over thinking. I know when I am doing it, and I am getting better at stopping it in its tracks, but I know this is going to be a long learning journey for me. Care to walk with me on the road to recovery?
Over thinking can be defined as the art of creating problems where none exist and where none may ever exist. We tend to play negative perceptions on an endless loop in our heads. We live in “what if” land. We are murdering our own happiness! This is a very special Hell that we unnecessarily reserve only for ourselves. With all of the beautiful destinations in the world, why would we ever want an all-expense-paid trip to this location?
Often triggered by past pain, this is a special form of fear that becomes worse when adding anticipation, memory, imagination, and emotion together. It can quickly take on monstrous proportions.
Want to guarantee yourself a bad mood? Go ahead and over think a situation! When you make mountains out of molehills, or even out of thin air, you can actually find yourself stuck, paralyzed by fear, unable to move forward. In worst case scenarios, over thinking can even lead to substance abuse in an attempt to self-medicate. At best, over thinking will rob you of time to be productive and self-nurturing.
It is time to understand that over thinking does not provide solutions and may actually increase problems. It certainly impairs problem solving skills because we are not thinking clearly. Good insight rarely comes from ruminating over perceived failures.
Are you always tired? Do you obsess about failure? Do you not trust your own judgement? Do you think you are “not good enough”? Do you suffer from tension headaches? Do you fear the future? Are you overly cautious? Afraid to make decisions? Do your friends tell you that you “care too much”? Do you agonize over imagined scenarios? Are you repeatedly asking for advice on the same subject? Do you feel the need to be overly prepared? Have you been guilty of using catastrophic language? All of these maladies can find their genesis in over thinking.
84% of stress is due to overthinking. Do yourself a favor and make a resolution to stop this destructive behavior. If you are like me, this will be a work in progress. How in the world do we break out of this pattern?
Let’s look at some positive suggestions to help break the cycle:
- Let’s try to visualize what can go right in a situation, and give no thought time to the negative.
- Distract yourself when you start to go down the over thinking path. Get up. Make a conscious effort to change your thoughts.
- Think, will this matter in five minutes, in five years?
- Be present in the moment.
- Give yourself a time limit of five minutes to think this situation through and then let it go. Have your inner pity-party. You are the only one that will be attending, so make it quick, and move on.
- Make a mental list of everything that is going right in your life.
- Be grateful for the blessings you already have.
- Check those expectations. Are they realistic? Expectations are the root of all disappointment.
- Confide in a good friend. A really good friend. Someone who will listen to the same things time and time again, and still be there for you as you slowly start to wake up.
- Take a big red Sharpie marker and write the word “STOP” on your bathroom mirror. Look at it every time you are in the bathroom.
- Stop being a perfectionist. Nobody wants to be around a perfectionist, anyways.
- Challenge your thoughts. Do you really have a good reason to be negative?
- Do not allow “all or nothing” thinking. Not everything is “black or white”. There is a lot of room for the gray.
- Meditate/Clear your mind.
- Do something active. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Clean your house! (I know the last suggestion was pretty radical).
- Go to bed earlier.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Learn something new. Take a class. Read a book.
- Forgive yourself for any perceived mistakes. We all make them.
- Listen to some music. Learn to play an instrument.
- Take up a new hobby. Perfect a current hobby. (When I think of my yarn stash alone, I know I could devote a lot of time here).
- Grow from your mistakes. Use them as stepping stones and not stumbling blocks.
- Quit trying to please everyone else. This seems to be especially difficult for women.
- Focus on today and not on the past or the future.
- Quit self-criticism. You are good enough, in fact, you are more than good enough!
- Know and avoid your triggers. Get rid of the toxic behaviors and people in your life.
- Help someone else. Take the focus off of your own ego and use the energy to help others.
Over thinking never changes a situation, and oftentimes only makes things worse. You are not a fun person to be around if you are always in the midst of this self-defeating behavior.
If your thoughts will not change a situation, why spend time there when you could be doing something fun, or something productive?
You owe it to yourself to work on this habit. You can do this! Remember that you attract who you are and what you are. Fill your life with positivity and see how quickly things improve!
Wow! Just think about how much extra time you will have to enjoy your life, if you just quit this very bad habit. I don’t know about you, but I am going to continue to work on this, and I am going to win victory over it if it is the last thing that I ever do. I am a warrior. I’ve got this! How about you?