If you allow your mind to go around in circles, you can end up feeling drained.
For example, if you’re struggling to make a decision and you’re not making any progress, you can end up feeling confused and anxious. And the same thing can happen if you are dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, or ruminating about negative emotions.
The mind wants certainty — it wants solutions, realisations, conclusions, answers and action plans. Therefore, any time your mind becomes stuck in uncertainty or negativity, you will feel uneasy. And if your thought processes are causing you distress and anguish — you are signalling to yourself that you’re in trouble.
You have to recognise that your confidence and inner power are contingent on your thinking processes. The way you think about your life, has a direct influence on the way you think about yourself, and the way you end up feeling.
- If you overly focus your thoughts on what you don’t like and what you don’t want, this will drain you because you are telling yourself you have made wrong decisions and that you are in trouble.
- And if you dwell in uncertainty and negativity, and take no action to help yourself out of the trouble, this will drain you further because you are telling yourself you are powerless and helpless.
- And then, if you beat yourself up through self-criticism and self-depreciation, this will drain you even further because you are telling yourself you don’t accept or care about yourself.
If ever you’re in some sort of dilemma, or you feel stuck in unhelpful thoughts, your best option is to calm yourself and relax. When you are calm, you will have access to more advanced forms of cognition — you will be able to think clearly and rationally. You will also be uncluttered by emotions and more in tune with your instincts and intuition.
Once you are calmer, write down the thoughts you were overthinking about. This will help you to feel more composed and organised.
Take a look at your thoughts. Are they in any way helpful?
When people overthink, they often get stuck replaying negative thoughts about a problem. If you realise this is happening, look for ways you could be more solution focused. Get clear about what it is you want. And if you can’t figure out a way forward, then let it go for a while and chill. Trust, that in relaxation, the answers will often come.
If you’ve been overthinking due to fear and insecurity, you will need to deal with your worries and reassure yourself. Commit to making changes that will help. And let go of worrying about anything that is out of your control. Re-establish your confidence by thinking about what you are grateful for, and by focusing on your strengths and resources.
Overthinking can also be a form of self-depreciation. If you are stuck rethinking the past and dwelling on mistakes, you can cause yourself unnecessary shame, guilt and sadness. Help yourself by processing your emotions, and by accepting yourself.
If you find yourself overthinking due to indignation or resentment, you can end up feeling angry, bitter and hostile. Make an effort to free yourself from grievances.
The above tips should help you to get back on track, but ultimately, you will want to stop your mind from causing these issues in the first place.
Distressful overthinking is almost always caused by some form of discontentment. And sometimes, it will be best to loosen the grip of your desires and expectations, so that you’re not derailed by negative thoughts and emotions when things aren’t going to plan.
Some disappointment and uncertainty in life is inevitable. And it’s almost always best to be patient, and to hold your composure. In the vast majority of circumstances, there is no need to overthink, and no need to rush.
You can train yourself to be less reactive by stopping your mind from having so many opinions — and by becoming more of an observer. So, you quieten your inner chatter, and you spend more and more time in a neutral state of awareness. A daily meditation practise can help you achieve this.
When you are calm and composed, you won’t confuse yourself with too many questions or diverging thoughts — and you will naturally become decisive. And being decisive sometimes just means deciding you don’t know what to do, and that you are content to wait.
To deal with the challenges of life, you have to use your mind strategically. You have to focus your attention only in ways that are helpful. So, you recognise when to think critically, and you recognise when to clear your mind, let things go, and relax. You are able to maintain a healthy balance.
You stop overthinking by using your mind only in ways that empower you.