Stop Overthinking Your Life

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.

Picture: photoloni/Flickr

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]


Comments

    rumination is harmful - "what if","if only". However it is important to separate this from reflection.

    reflection of the self is vital - at the end of your night, and then work up. in the morning, every few hours, hourly, every minute, every second - learn to catch yourself as soon as you dip and immediately rectify yourself. account yourself, your actions, your manners, account and improve; account account account until you learn to account every breath you take.

    "Know that the state of one's religious and worldly affairs depend upon soundness of one's reflection. Anyone who has a share of it has an abundant share of everything good. It has been said : 'An hour's reflection is better than a year's worship.'... And one of the gnostics; may God have mercy on them all, said: 'Reflection is the lamp of the heart; if it departs the heart will have no light.'" -- 12th Century mystic

    While constantly talking and talking about the issue with people is not useful (and also annoying for the receiver in the end), I don't know if not talking about it at all is useful advice; amazing how many over-thoughts lose their power and importance once discussed an thus put out of the mind with a good confidante. Just don't keep going over the same tracks.

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