Most people are guilty of overthinking once in a while; some people just can’t seem to stop the constant flow of thoughts coming into their head. It can sometimes feel like an monologue is going on in their head which usually includes two destructive thought patterns—contemplating and worrying.
Contemplating can involve rehashing the past:
- I shouldn’t have spoken my mind in the meeting today.
- I should have made a different career choice. I would be much happier now if I had made a different decision.
- I should have taken action and followed my dreams, now I feel like it is too late.
Worrying usually involves negative predictions about the future:
- Why even bother following my passion. What will happen if I fail?
- This month is going to be a real struggle to pay the bills, I don’t know if I can hit my targets in work.
- I just have no idea what am I doing with my life. What is the point of even working harder in work? I have no goals, plans or even direction for my future.
People who overthink about life don’t just use words to contemplate their lives. Usually, they will conjure up negative images too. They may envision a negative situation happening in work or at home. By overthinking they are holding themselves back from taking positive action and being more productive.
How To Stop Overthinking
Putting an end to worrying and contemplating about the past and second-guessing the future, can be sometimes easier said than done. But with some practice, you can limit your negative thought patterns and stop overthinking:
1. Be Aware When You Are Thinking Too Much
Having more awareness is the first vital step in putting an end to overthinking. Start paying more attention to the way you think. If you notice yourself replaying events in your mind over and over again, or worrying about things out of your control, acknowledge that your thoughts are not being productive for you.
2. Challenge Your Thoughts
It can sometimes be easy to get carried away and feel swamped by negative thoughts. Learn to see and replace negative thinking before it overwhelms you.
3. Focus On Active Problem-Solving
Dwelling on your problems is neither helpful nor productive for you, but looking for possible solutions is. Ask yourself what action steps can you take to learn from a mistake or avoid any future problem. Change your mindset, Instead of asking why something happened, ask yourself what you can do about it to avoid it happening again in the future.
4. Take Time To Reflect
Going over problems in your head for long periods of time is not productive, but some brief time reflecting can be very helpful. Thinking about how you could do things differently in the future or recognizing potential pitfalls can be really helpful for you do better in the future. Include 10 – 20 minutes of “thinking time” into your daily schedule. Use a journal and write your thoughts on paper. During this “thinking time” time, let yourself worry and contemplate whatever it is that you you want. When the time is finished, move onto something more productive. If you notice yourself overthinking outside of your scheduled “thinking time”, remind yourself that you will think about it later.
5. Live In The Moment
It is impossible to worry about yesterday or think about tomorrow if you are totally living in the present. Commit yourself to become more aware of the here and now. Mindfulness can take practice, but over time, it will be a great help to you from overthinking.
6. Change Your Habits
Telling yourself to stop overthinking about something can sometimes highlight it even more. The more you try to avoid negative thinking from entering you brain, the more likely it is to penetrate your thoughts. Try to keep yourself busy with a more productive activity is a great way for you to stop overthinking. Read a book, exercise, have a conversation with a positive friend, or start working on a project that will distract your mind from any bombardment of overthinking and negative thoughts.