What prevents you from living the life you dream of? Probably the reason is a rather common and unproductive phenomenon called overthinking in English. Simply put, you think too much.
Is it possible to think less? You can, and you should! It seems virtually impossible to completely turn off your thoughts, but minimizing them as much as possible may be the key to achieving happiness. There is more and more talk about the fact that thoughts can shape our consciousness, our attitude, and the reality around us, so it’s important to control them and not let them overwhelm us.
When do you think too much?
You endlessly process even the smallest problem in your head before it has even turned into a really important one. You think about positive things until you’re bored and they become ordinary. You obsessively analyze events instead of enjoying them, and in this way you miss out on the happy moments of life
You sleep over some trivial thing you did years ago. Not only do you dwell on the past, but you also create countless scenarios for future events that you can’t really predict.
Of course it’s good to reflect on some pressing issues sometimes, but if you do it too often and dive too deeply into these kinds of reflections, you risk becoming someone who deliberately deprives himself of happiness. And that’s what overthinking is. So how do you deal with it?
Consider the big picture
It is very easy to fall into the trap of endlessly thinking about trivial problems and issues. So if you find yourself thinking, for example, about the time in 3rd grade when you fell in the hallway and landed under the feet of the school sweetheart and everyone else laughed out loud at you, ask yourself: does that affect you now? Does anyone even still remember it besides you?
For more recent issues, ask yourself, will it matter in 5 years or 5 weeks? Probably not, so free your head from those thoughts and focus on what really matters.
Put time limits on yourself
If you’re spending too much time thinking about irrelevant and outdated things, then just limit that time. Determine that you will spend 15 minutes on Tuesday after lunch and actually do that. Spend a full quarter of an hour thinking about just that one thing, and when the time is up, forget about it completely.
Also, you need to limit your time for making decisions or taking specific actions. Especially for current problems that need to be solved. Even if they are unpleasant issues for you, decide how much time you give yourself to finally close the given issue. Take such deadlines seriously, don’t put them off and don’t change them.
Act instead of thinking
Let’s say you have had an ongoing issue on your mind for some time that needs to be resolved. Thoughts about it are constantly coming to you and don’t allow you to concentrate
There is only one solution – you must take action. When you take action gradually, day by day, you will spend less and less time thinking. Even if it takes a few days to get things done, making a plan will help free your head from intrusive thoughts.
Make peace with the past
Setting deadlines and building a plan will only help with those situations and issues that you still have control over. If something happened in the past, you can’t change it – you can’t go back in time to stop yourself from doing something stupid
That’s why you need to come to terms with your past and accept the baggage that keeps coming back to you. Make a list of these things, read them out loud, and realize that they no longer matter. Finally, ideally destroy the list and symbolically free yourself from whatever it is that keeps you stuck in the past. Every time you catch yourself revisiting one of these situations, remind yourself that you are already out of their reach.
Overthinking is a condition that prevents you from living in the moment. Instead of enjoying the here and now, we get stuck with our thoughts in the past or future. That is why meditation can be a good solution. It’s a great way to get your thoughts under control, look inside yourself, calm down, exercise self-control and mindfulness.
Come to terms with the fact that you can’t control everything
Don’t try to mentally embrace all aspects of life and prepare for every possible scenario. It’s not feasible. There are many factors that are beyond your control that affect what and how things will happen
You can’t predict everything, so it’s best to expect the unexpected and accept the idea that things won’t always go as planned. You won’t protect yourself from all mistakes, and most importantly, it’s not even worth it. They are an important part of self-development and learning, so allow yourself to make them and stop analyzing everything.
Immerse yourself in the present day
Turn the energy you usually put into thinking about what was or what will be into the power to spend the current day productively. Run urgent errands, face current challenges, solve problems and complete tasks that are waiting for you.
Above all, slow down. Do what you’re doing now more slowly. Speak more slowly. Eat slower. Live more slowly. In doing so, you will become more aware of the present moment and what is happening to you and around you. Remind yourself that now is the time for you and be specific about what you will be doing
This simple reminder stops the flow of thoughts in your head and allows you to focus on what is happening in the moment. If you feel yourself drifting off with your thoughts again, stop it immediately and go back to what you were just doing
Spend time more productively and with people
Do something to distract yourself from your thoughts – play with your dog, go for a bike ride, do some exercise, play a game or read a book. Find an activity that requires you to focus completely, and after a few minutes, you’ll notice that the intrusive thoughts have disappeared
It’s also a good idea to spend time in company, especially with people who are able to live in the moment and don’t worry too much about the past or the future, don’t analyze and don’t worry about the future. Spend time the way you like and with people who are important to you – happy people don’t count time, and what is most important, they don’t waste it on excessive thinking.
The hero of one of Disney animations reveals the secret of a peaceful mind and spiritual balance: what passed is in the past, what will happen, no one knows, and what is happening now is a gift. Therefore, appreciate it and take advantage of it
The ability to be in the moment is a quality of mindfulness, that is, understanding why you are where you are, doing what you are doing, and communicating with those with whom you are communicating. Being in the moment is the complete opposite of overthinking and requires taking full control of unruly thoughts.
Focus on what is current and ongoing, and contrary to what others say, just think less.
Main photo: Ahtziri Lagarde/unsplash.com