Do you feel trapped in your own thoughts, navigating your options and outcomes so you forget to take action? My friend, you are experiencing overthinking. Personally, I am guilty as charged from it! I get stuck with my what-if analysis, weighing all my options and possibilities as if my whole life will be decided at this moment resulting in me getting trapped and not taking forward actions. If you are an ambitious person, you need to know when to draw the line between brainstorming and taking action so you can carry on with your life.
Overthinking Definition and Reasons
What is Overthinking? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ” the action of thinking about something too much, in a way that is not useful”. No useful thinking is when you start piling up negative thoughts. You imagine a negative future full of failures and problems. You beat up yourself about the past saying “I should have” and ” I could have”. Your negative thoughts get stuck in your head and you are not able to move on. Therefore, you will become paralyzed and unable to take action. The good news is that you are not the only overthinker. According to the University of Michigan (2003), 73% of 25-35 year-olds overthink compared to 52% of 45-55 year-olds and 20% of 65-75 year-olds.
Overthinking is not usually considered a mental illness but it is linked to stress, anxiety and depression. Whenever a major decision needs to be finalized or we are dealing with our trauma, the process of overthinking starts. Research shows that becoming obsessed with your negative thoughts will negatively impact the quality of your life by reducing your energy, creativity and quality of sleep. (CNBC, 2022)
Tips to Shift to a Doer Mindset
1- Identify and Change your Destructive thought Pattern
I first heard about the idea that our behaviour is a series of developed patterns from an event for Tony Robbins. After some observations, I think that totally makes sense. With time and through experiences, we are developing a series of patterns that are affecting our life as simple as working out, sleeping late, meditation in the morning… Overthinking is no more or less than a pattern triggered by something. It might be your limiting belief or your perfectionist nature. There are two very known patterns for destructive thought: ruminating and incessant worrying.
Ruminating is focusing on one thought or correlated thoughts for a long time. Incessant worrying is when you overthink every aspect of your life, not only a particular thing. By understanding the pattern, you will became able to identify it once it reoccurs again. Therefore, you will know that it is your brain playing games on you and some of the thoughts aren’t valid. Having this conviction will help you shut those thoughts down and break the pattern.
A friend recently introduced me to meditation and this practice helped me tremendously in calming my thoughts. Meditation allowed me to disconnect from my brain and step into my body to focus on the moment and on breathing. In addition, meditation taught me the concept of grounding. Practice gratitude while meditating to remind yourself of the positive and good aspects of your life. Meditation helped me get connected with my intuition. I am learning with time how to differentiate between intuition and unnecessary fear.
3- Understand the Reasons
Overthinking is a symptom of a deeper problem. It is beneficial to understand the root cause triggering your overthinking process. Are you a perfectionist that worries about everything and wants to create a flawless life? Do you have a particular fear and all your worries revolve around it? Understanding the root cause behind your reaction gives you the opportunity to work on it and solve it.
4- Put a Schedule and To-do List
Keeping myself busy was a way to get distracted from overthinking. It won’t definitely solve the main problem that is leading to overthinking, but it will definitely treat the symptom. Planning my day ahead, taking many tasks and getting my mind busy with productive things won’t leave any room for me to dwell on my what-ifs.
5- Focus on the Problem-Solving
Everything in life has a solution. Whenever a problem pops up in your head think about its solution then try to shut it down. Having a solution to my created/imaginative problems gives me a sense of security. I feel prepared for the worst which encourages me to take my first step.
Overthinking is common, especially among the youth. This behaviour is linked to stress, anxiety and depression. As overthinking is getting obsessively stuck in the thinking phase, it inhibits you from taking action which creates a limitation. Therefore, identifying your overthinking pattern, and its root cause, in addition to extra-practices such as meditation and active life helps you shift from thinking to doing.
- The University of Michigan (2003): Most women think too much, overthinkers often drink too much
- Tony Robbins: How to Stop Overthinking
- CNBC- Jenny Maenbaa (2022): A psychotherapist shares the 3 exercises she uses every day ‘to stop overthinking’
- Forbes Health- Mara Santilli (2022): What Causes Overthinking—And 6 Ways To Stop
Motivation: Tips to Stay Motivated during Hard Times
Disclaimer: This post is not written by a psychologist nor a person with medical background! It shares the writer’s experience and observation based on a personal journey. IF YOU ARE A PSYCHOLOGIST OR WITH MEDICALE BACKGROUND please reach out in the comment below or contact us because we would love to collaborate on this topic! Overthinking is a common limitation for many and would be nice to understand it better.