Overthinking: The art of Discovering New Problems
If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.
- Dean Smith
I am thinking too much.
Am I even thinking?
Am I overthinking about overthinking?
If these are the sort of questions that go in your head, there are chances that you might be an overthinker.
I feel that everyone overthinks something or the other. It all comes down to the level of uncertainty and lack of judgment. I go through it every day of my life and, I’ve learned to live with it.
In fact, When you think about it, only the negative overthinking is where you suffer. Because let me tell you from personal experience, daydreaming fairy tale scenarios is pretty sweet. Positive Overthinking is a real deal, people.
But the negatives, unfortunately, outweigh the positives here.
Negative Overthinking feels like being punched again & again, and with every blow, the intensity increases.
It starts with the first punch: For Eg: My exam didn’t go very well.
Returns with a bigger punch: What If I don’t make the least cut and fail?
And the final uppercut: I will never succeed in life because this is who I am.
No, You aren’t. You were in a tight situation where the odds were against your favor and, you failed.
It happens and such is life.
Even though a normal person would understand the statements above, an overthinker wouldn’t.
This is not how I would talk to an overthinker because they need good communication and assurance. They need to know everything that would make them feel better.
But should you worry about Overthinking? Ideally, yes. It is not what I would call a particularly good situation to be in.
But don’t overthink, overthinking.
Some healthy habits can take the pressure off of your mind and help you chill for a bit. After all, you deserve to cut yourself some slack.
Let’s get into it then.
What is Overthinking?
I mean, duh! The devil is hiding in plain sight. The act of thinking about something more than usual is what I would call overthinking.
But it does not just stop there, now does it? It creates problems that weren’t even there in the first place. It robs you of your mental peace, and my friends, to think clearly, you need to have a calm mind.
Overthinking feels like a harmless activity but, think about it this way,
if you have too many weeds in your garden, is there a place for the flowers to bloom?
Negative thoughts are much more seductive to the brain.
Overthinking adds fuel to that fire. It takes advantage of your negative bias and tells you that this is what could go wrong. Think more about that.
Our belief affects our reality and behavior. The way we talk to ourselves affects what we think and feel about ourselves. When you think negatively and tend to overthink that, you are putting yourself in a position to lose.
Do you want to lose?
Come, Let’s Win.
How to Avoid Negative Overthinking?
1. Think Deep & Think Longer Term
I know. I know.
In a blog where you are looking to stop this negative habit, I tell you to think more.
Am I crazy? Well, no comments.
But I mean, think everything and think long term. We are usually worried because our exact situation does not seem comfortable.
Not the future, not the past but that exact moment. But is the present uncomfortableness is all that matters?
If you missed your major meeting in the morning?
Will it make a difference immediately? Yes
Will it make a difference tomorrow? Probably no because you can explain your reasons.
Will it matter in 5 years? Is my career really dependant on just one meeting of my life that I happen to miss? Absolutely not.
Some people call it the five-minute rule. It means if it isn’t going to matter in the next 5 years, don’t overthink/worry about it for more than 5 minutes.
Every situation is not the same but this can avoid a lot of bad ones.
I find this rule helpful in my personal journey as well. The tool helps you clear your head and, if not, puts a time bomb on your overthinking. You have just five minutes, and then you are going to distract yourself. And it genuinely works.
2. Manage your time your way.
It is easy to lose control of things when you don’t manage them well. One thing leads to another and, there you are overthinking everything and doing nothing.
The lack of execution snatches your mental peace and leaves it for a toss. We can’t avoid stressful situations but, we sure as hell can minimize them.
Time management is nothing but mindful control over each activity that you do every day. It depends on how you want to run your day but, one of the better ways to start is to do the hard tasks first.
Find your optimal time and build your entire day around it. The more you feel in control, the less uncertain you will be.
And, Hey! That’s a pretty good start to reduce overthinking.
Everything will never in your control but it feels good to be powerful in some ways. Time management helps you do just that.
3. Distract Yourself with things that you love doing
Distract yourself seems like vague advice to me. That’s why I added the “doing what you love” part.
Most people distract themselves by doing random activities. I don’t think that’s going to come in handy.
You must do something you love so that you get immersed, lose a sense of your worries, and live in the moment. Be mindful doing what you love is the easiest way to avoid overthinking.
If you are just distracting yourself, you think that you are wasting time and running away from things. It usually leads to even more stress.
That is why doing something you love helps you buy time. It puts you in a position of power.
More often than not, you are back to the normal state having forgotten about the problem at hand.
Think about this- if you forgot about the problem, was it even that big a problem?
And if you didn’t, you are in a much better headspace than before to think about it now. You are wiser now because you did something you loved.
This is what I genuinely enjoy and, what helps me to distract:
1. Music: There’s a sense of flow to get lost in.
2. Cinema: Transporting to someone else’s world so that you forget about your own worries.
3. Talking: Sometimes, just talking to the right people helps a lot. It helps to change your perspective by observing how they think.
4. Walking in Nature: I usually go on a walk with my friends in the park to help clear my head.
None of the activities described above HAVE to work for you. There are a million others, and you can choose anything you want. These are some that save my day.
There are three basic rules for distraction:
Do something you love.
Do something you enjoy
One out of the two is compulsory. If you find two in one, it is legendary.
If you still can’t get it off your mind, do steps one and two in chronological order.
Most of our lives are spent inside our heads. It is our sole responsibility to make it a better accommodation.
Overthinking helps you discover new problems in life that weren’t even there in the first place. I’m not going to say don’t overthink. Instead, I’ll say, allow your mind the privilege to think about things that really matter.
It’s not easy to break out of overthinking patterns and, it isn’t that bad if you ask me. The key is not to let it consume you.
Valuable nuggets if you skimmed through:
-Think about everything that can go right and wrong, and then figure out the next step.
- Manage your time in a way that helps you take control and minimize stressful situations.
-Distract yourself with only those things that you absolutely love doing.