Why you should not believe everything you think!
Do you tend to overthink your problems or visualize why things would not work out?
These negative habit can ruin your life for the worst and most of us do this. Fortunately, according to the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, most of our worries are unnecessary because over 80% of our worries and fears won’t turn into reality.
When we worry and overthink, we are not living in the present moment and we force ourselves into situations where we feel that we don’t have total control.
Check out the following tips to learn how you can finally stop to overthink.
1) Accept that You Have a Problem with Over-Thinking.
The first step to healing is acknowledging that you have a problem. If you feel like you can’t get out of your own head and over-thinking is stopping you from living a happy life, making decisions, getting things done, or forming meaningful relationships, then you have a problem. If you find yourself spiraling into negativity and depression when a bad thing happens, you have a problem. If your anxiety about the future is stopping you from enjoying the present, you have a problem. Burying your head in the sand or denying this reality will only make the situation worse. If you are not sure if you have a problem, ask your friends and loved ones to be honest with you, because they are usually the ones who will see it even if you cannot.
2) Forgive Yourself: Our Brains are Hardwired This Way
Once you can admit that you are an over-thinker, forgive yourself, because the brain is actually wired to make over-thinking a natural tendency. According to Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the leading expert in this field, “the organization of our brains sets us up for over-thinking” because our thoughts and memories are intrinsically woven together, not compartmentalized. So when stressors are triggered or you get into a bad mood, it can unlock a ‘cascade’ of racing negative thoughts that have nothing to do with the original trigger for the bad mood. Nolen-Hoeksema gives the example of “when poor job performance causes you to think about your aunt who died last year.”
Furthermore, when something bad happens or someone is feeling negative, they are more likely to think negative things and also see connections (that may not actually exist) between all the bad events that have happened in their lives. The more frequently this happens, the more likely the individual is to engage in this over-thinking pattern in the future.
While the brain might be wired to make these associations, once you become aware you can begin to solve the problem.
3) Breathe More
If our brains are wired in this ‘interconnected spider web’ where one bad event can trigger a tidal wave of negative thought associations, how can we break this pattern?
The first and easiest thing you can do is BREATHE. Breathing will relax you, calm you, connect you to the present moment, and ground you to Mother Earth. It sounds so simple but often when our mind starts to race to bad places, we become manic and frantic when what we need to do is relax the body and mind.
The breathing technique that works for me involves lying down and taking a two-second long deep inhalation in through the nose, followed by a four-second long exhalation out through the mouth. This breathing pattern increases the CO2 in the bloodstream, which can relax the body and calm the adrenal system’s response to the obsessive thoughts. Do this for 10 minutes or until the excessive thinking slows down.
4) Talk Less
So many over-thinkers, especially those of us of the female persuasion, can’t help but want to ‘talk it out’ when we are feeling stressed and worried. While talking about the worries can sometimes help, it usually will make things worse, especially if the person you are talking to is also an over-thinker, and you spend the entire time over-analyzing and dissecting every detail of every negative problem in your lives. You might end up working yourself up into a frenzy of negativity and feeling even more upset after the conversation.
This type of co-rumination, where two ruminators get together to over-think about their lives together, can lead both people deeper into negativity and stress. For example, research has uncovered an association between co-rumination amongst female friends and increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
If you really feel the need to express your issues, you can always write them down, to clear them out of your mind and realize that your concerns might sound silly when you read them back to yourself. This type of free-association journaling has been incredibly beneficial for me.