We all overthink things sometimes. The problem comes when chronic overthinking starts getting in the way of making good decisions or starts causing undue worry. But there are ways you can help short circuit the process.
The folks at Real Simple points out where the real problem with overthinking often lies:
Persistently dwelling on distressing situations from the recent or distant past (called rumination, as in that thing a cow does when it constantly rechews food) can be one of the most destructive mental habits. It's closely linked to depression, and it can sap our confidence, our ability to solve problems, and our sense of control over our lives.
It's not really the same as worrying, since worriers tend to focus on current or future events. So why do we fall into the habit? Well, the key word there is habit. Memories are often linked by emotion. When you get down about an event, that feeling is likely to call up past events where you felt similar. And from there, it's a downward spiral.
So, how do you break that spiral. Here are a few tips:
- If possible, take action. If you find yourself stuck in the mode of overthinking a problem or event, do something instead of thinking about it. Writing things down is a good place to start.
- Challenge your beliefs. Are the things you're worrying about really happening or likely to happen?
- Redirect your attention. Find an activity that really engages you to distract yourself from overthinking.
- Resist the urge to talk it out. Talking with someone seems like a good idea, but it's really just one more way to continue the overthinking process.
In the end, there's really just one process for overcoming things like this. Identify the problem you're having and practise noticing when it's happening to you. The more you practise, the more likely you can stop the behaviour before it spirals out of control.
6 Steps to Stop Overthinking Your Life [Real Simple]