What is holding you back from the life you truly want to live? Chance are you are thinking too much about everything-seriously everything. People overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier than it actually is. Overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore. Or overanalyze and deconstruct things and so the happiness that comes from just enjoying something in the moment disappears.
You must learn to stop over-thinking. It’s the silent enemy that will slowly kill you, chipping away at every shred of happiness you come across.
Don’t get me wrong, thinking things through can be a great thing–you can’t just take any decision, right. But being an overthinker can result in becoming someone who stands in his or her own way. You could be self-sabotaging the good things that happen in life.
1. Set short time-limits for decisions.
If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it is a small or bigger decision.
For small decisions like do the getting grocery, responding to an email, working out etc, give yourself about a minute or less to make a decision. Don’t waste time on it. You usually know what you want. For somewhat larger decisions that would have taken you days or weeks to think through in the past, set your deadline for the end of the workday and stick to it and make a decision.
2. Stick to getting things done with deadlines
When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking. Setting deadlines can help you become much more focused on getting things done. Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that can work really well. I have personally benefitted from that. It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want to flee into procrastination. And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.
3. Just realize that you cannot control everything
Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything-but guess what not everything is in your control. You may want to cover every eventuality so you do not risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool. But those things are a part of living the life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Successful people who you may admire have failed several times in the past but the truth is they know how to control what they can and do their best at it.
But in most cases they have also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow. So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance. This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps, that may help.
4. Do not get lost in vague fears.
Another trap that I have fallen into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that I have gotten lost in vague fears about a situation in my life. And so my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something or if I don’t. So I have learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?
And when I have figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that often pretty unlikely thing happens. And guess what the worst thing that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce. Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes of time and bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.
5. Spend more of your time in the present moment.
By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.
Three ways you can reconnect with the present moment are:
A. Slow down.
Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.
B. Tell yourself: Now I am…
I often tell myself this: Now I am X. And X could be reading, taking a walk in the park or hanging out with friends or family. This simple reminder helps you mind to stop wandering and brings your focus back to what is happening in this moment.
C. Disrupt and reconnect.
If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought– in your mind – and reconnect with the moment and enjoy the present! Reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.
6. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.
Your social environment plays a big part. And not just the people and groups close to you in real life. But also what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life.
So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourages and tends create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.
Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and sources that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tends to strengthen your overthinking habit.