How can you stop overthinking and over-analyzing everything?
Are you someone who keeps your brain very busy with overthinking every situation in your life?
Do you tend to imagine the worst case scenarios for things?
The overthinking and constant worrying cycle can be paralyzing and frustrating. It can get in the way and hold you back in your career, relationships and life in general.
The most likely reasons why you overthink are probably because:
You think it is helpful
It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that overthinking and worrying about something so much is actually helping in solving it. It can be seen as productive and shrewdness to anticipate potential problems and try to fix them before they happen. This kind of reasoning is not necessarily true nor helpful oftentimes. An old saying states “worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace. Furthermore, an overthinker often appears to others as someone who is negative, a pessimist, and one who is always stressed out and trying to stress everyone around them.
You fear mistakes
Making mistakes is not fun. It can bring about the feeling of failure and cause you to regret your decisions. However, excessive fear of mistakes can cause problems. It can cause you to start avoiding situations entirely hence not making any progress at all in your life. For example, you may have a presentation to make at work and your overthinking brain can come up with things like; what if I don’t do well? What if I make a blunder and embarrass myself? What if I ruin it totally?
You learnt it over a long period of time
According to an article on mydomaine.com, Dr Jeffrey Huttman, a licensed psychologist stated, “Overthinking is very common and may be caused by self-doubt, self-esteem issues, and concern about repeating past patterns in relation to prior bad experiences; traumatic experiences or anxiety”. Therefore, we can conclude that your past experiences, for example, your childhood may have something to do with why you are an overthinker.
How to stop overthinking and over-analyzing everything
Here are 5 tips that will help you:
Write down your worries
The first step to stop overthinking is to be clear what you are worried about. In his book, How to stop worrying and start living, Dale Carnegie suggested to describe your worry in precise detail, then write out at least 3 courses of action you can take. For example, if you are worried and nervous about going on a first date with someone, write down these 2 questions;
- What am I worried about?
- What can I do about it?
Your probable responses might be:
- What am I worried about?
I am worried about going on a date with this person because they might not like me, I might not know what to say and embarrass myself or the person might not find me interesting or attractive enough.
b. What can I do about it?
- I can cancel the date and chicken out
- I can postpone the date for another time
- I can start preparing myself mentally and emotionally and just relax, then show up for the date knowing that everything is okay and whatever happens, the important thing is I tried.
You will notice that by the time you will finish writing down your worries, you gain emotional distance from your worry and can objectively assess your options.
Talk to a trusted confidant
It is also helpful to find a trusted mature friend you can talk to from time to time about your fears, worries and concerns. Talking to someone you trust may help you to see situations more clearly and identify options or solutions you had not thought of before. It can help you lessen your worry and reassure you that there is a better or different way forward. You don’t have to struggle through things by yourself.
Be open to making mistakes in life. Mistakes are an opportunity for learning something new. If you can learn to accept mistakes, shortcomings, and unwanted events as opportunities for learning and personal growth, you will begin to feel less stressed and fearful. Accept that you are human and that each one of us does things that we regret sometimes. So, embrace mistakes and avoid overthinking.
Unlearn the habit of overthinking
If you are a chronic worrier that learnt the habit overtime, you can still defeat it. You can unlearn the habit by unpacking your thoughts. Reflect back to when it might have started and the reasons why. If people that surrounded you were chronic worriers or even encouraged the habit, recognize that it is not serving you anymore. Let go and learn new habits that are positive. For example, you can practice meditation and other exercises to help you calm your mind. Heal your past trauma as this may be affecting you and learn to live in the present moment.
Learn to let go
Worrying about something will not change its outcome or give you the outcome you want. Therefore, you need to learn the art of letting go. This means that you need to forget about your anxieties and focus on the present, on what is in front of you, and your emotions at that moment. This is easier said than done, but if you make it a practice every day, it will get easier. One way to let go is to take each day as it comes and to focus on a day at a time.
If you use these suggestions consistently, you will find that the worry and stress in your life has reduced significantly and you will defeat the habit and stop overthinking everything.