Overthinking is resistance to our thoughts
Thoughts arise and there’s nothing we can do about it. Overthinking doesn’t just happen randomly. It happens when we are in resistance to our thoughts. When we are trying to push certain thoughts away with other thoughts, this is overthinking.
My eternal advice for dealing with overthinking is to leave the thoughts alone. Don’t add more thought to thought. Don’t try to stop your overthinking by thinking your way out of it because… guess what? This is more overthinking haha!
Don’t see overthinking as a problem
When you are overthinking and you are aware that you’re overthinking, don’t see it as a problem because this will create the feedback loop from hell which was coined by author Mark Manson in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. You start to overthink about overthinking and this cannot be helpful. Let it happen.
“Thinking happens without your control but you can react to thoughts and start inner dialogues. The moment you start an inner dialogue about overthinking, you will be reacting to everything associated with overthinking. That’s why it becomes a problem once you make it one.” – Komron Rahmonbek
Overthinking is a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety causes overthinking to happen. If you didn’t suffer from high anxiety, you wouldn’t overthink.
Plan your day out so you know what you’re doing
Another reason why overthinking happens is because we don’t have a structure to follow during our day. When we know what we are doing, in other words, when our day is planned out, we don’t have to think too much about things.
We have a rough idea on what we’d like to accomplish that day. Imagine if we didn’t know what we were going to do that day? How much time would we spend on thinking about what to do? This in itself is a form of overthinking which can lead to inertia and procrastination.
Whilst I don’t agree with being really rigid and regimental with a structure, I do still recommend that we know what we are going to do in the day.
This is important because it gives us focus and meaning. I’ve noticed I tend to overthink things a lot more when I am not working towards something and don’t have a daily routine.
Think about what you’d like to do the next day the night before. Write down a list of activities and tasks you’d like to do on a small piece of paper. For me, it’s a balance between online work, leisure time and chores.
It’s also helpful because it gives us less time to focus on our thoughts. The more time we focus on our thoughts, the more likely it is to get even more caught up in them.
The more we get caught up in our thoughts, the deeper we fall into the overthinking trap. I’ve always said that there is nothing we really can do internally to fix our anxiety.
This is why I say stop trying to argue, change or fight against it. Just allow it to be there, stay with the thoughts and feelings so you create no inner conflict and focus your mind on the things you want to do.
Do I or don’t I? Just do it!
When it comes to decision making during anxiety, it can be really challenging. Do I go to the cinema tonight with friends, or do I stay at home? Do I book that train ticket to Manchester, or do I drive there instead?
From my experience, it’s best to make a decision as quick as you possibly can so you prevent yourself from thinking on it too much. When we entertain our thoughts, we end up suffering because of it.
If we wait too long and think on it, we may end up talking ourselves out of it. My granddad is a perfect example of this. He sometimes comes round for tea on Sunday evenings.
This week he agreed to come round for tea. An hour later, he phoned back saying that he thought it through and wanted to eat at his. This is what happens when we have too much time to dwell on our thoughts.
He was quite happy to come round before he thought about things too much.
Now, I am not saying go crazy and say yes to everything because that would be absurd. Of course, say no as much as possible to the things you don’t want to be doing.|
I’m just saying that when it’s something we want to do or think that we should do for ourselves, then making a quick decision and sticking to it is the best way to go about things.
Any thoughts that come up after the decision has been made is usually just the production of an anxious mind trying to keep you safe.
When you’re in an anxious state, it’s very easy to start thinking about the worst-case scenarios. “Should I drive or should I get the train?” How much petrol will I use up by driving to Manchester? “What will I do to entertain myself whilst I’m on the train?” “What if I regret the decision I’ve just made?”
Try not to feed these thoughts because they are just noise. They don’t mean anything. They are just distractions. Don’t argue or reason with them. Don’t fight them. Just see them for what they are (product of an anxious mind) and let them go.
If it is a really serious decision, then maybe it would be best to speak to someone close to you about it. Someone who has your best wishes at heart, someone you can really trust.
When we’re suffering from anxiety, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees at the time, so having an outsider look in can be useful.
Now, don’t get me wrong, some things need to be thought through. However, when we have been in a cycle of overthinking, then we want to make sure that we don’t get caught, up in the decision making process for too long.
Make a decision and stick to it. This will save you a lot of mental and emotional energy instead of wasting it getting caught up in decision making overthinking.
Too many choices is a bad thing (From my experience)
This might seem trivial to you, I don’t know because we are all different.
Whenever I was faced with too many choices, my mind would go into overdrive and I would start to feel tension and anxiety arise.
For example, when I would go to an all you can eat Chinese buffet, I would be extremely overwhelmed with the amount of options there was available.
Tell me you’ve experienced this too? I think we all have. However, I don’t think everyone overthinks to the extent I do or did. I’m no way near as bad as I used to be. Very minor now.
Anyway, this is also known as decision fatigue and I think it also tires out our nerves when we have to many options to choose from.
Even after picking the food I wanted to have, my mind would jump to questions (thoughts) like, “what if I didn’t pick the right thing?” “Will I have enough time to try someone else out?” Why don’t I ever go for more adventurous foods when I’m eating out?”
So, when you are in a situation when there is a lot of choices you can make? Just pick on and don’t look back. Trust me, I know it’s hard but you have to do something, otherwise we get trapped.
I hope this article can help you out. Let me know how it goes.
Until next time