3 Signs You’re Overthinking Everything – And How To Stop
Thinking things through is natural, and in some situations, totally warranted. But, sometimes, it can veer into the pattern of overthinking.
This might look like nit-picking certain situations and scenarios, replaying them in your head and being unable to focus on much else. It could also mean reading too much into an interaction, or assuming the worst.
While a little overthinking might not hurt, if it becomes a constant habit, it could be detrimental to your life.
She says three of the symptoms of overthinking are:
You’re thinking about the same facts over and over and not taking any steps forward.
You believe you just haven’t found the ‘solution’ yet, and if you were to think about it just a little bit more you’d solve everything.
You’re not able to think about anything else. This one thing is consuming all of your brain’s energy and keeping you from being present in your day to day life.
Overthinking can leave you obsessing over things, says One. “When our brain identifies something as a problem it will act like a dog with a bone – which results in us chasing our tails, going round and round in circles, replaying or re-considering facts, searching for the magical ‘fix’ or certainty,” she says.
“Overthinking occurs when we tell ourselves something is a problem to be solved, that either has no definite fix, or where we’re rejecting the solution we’re finding. And it’s almost always because we’re scared of a future negative emotion we may have to experience (either now or in the future).”
One adds that overthinking can arise from the brain not being satisfied by the answers it finds to the situations created mentally.
“So it just stays on the hamster wheel,” she continues. “Going over and over and over the same sentences – creating the same feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, suffering – seeking desperately to find the answer that will 100% ensure they never have to feel any unwanted emotions.”
Overthinking can sometimes be centred on worrying what other people think about us. Life coach Kanika Tandon previously told HuffPost we have an innate need to belong in order to survive – and this is where the worry stems from.
“Caring about the opinions of other people helps when it comes to working as a group, but it turns into a problem when we begin to lose the path to our integrity by putting others before us,” she said. “It crosses a line when we begin to make decisions on how it will be received by others instead of what we truly, genuinely want and desire.”
It can be helpful to think about whether we’d really be judged for making a mistake/saying what we think, or whether this fear of judgement is self-imposed. If the judgement is real, consider if those people really deserve to be held in such high esteem.
What else can you do about overthinking?
The best way to tackle overthinking is to become the non-judgemental observer of your brain and to learn to fully process and allow your emotions, says One.
In order to become the observer of your brain, you need to distance yourself from the sentences in your mind. “So notice what your brain is saying to you, and get these out and down on paper,” says One.
2. Observe what’s happening
Consider what’s happening, as if you’re a non-judgemental witness or the scientist of your brain. “What exactly is your brain afraid of here?,” she asks. “For example: ‘My brain is trying to protect me from feeling [this emotion], so it’s obsessing over this situation to find some kind of certainty in order to protect me.’”
3. Learn to stop resisting your negative emotions
“We are taught that our negative emotions are ‘bad’ and must be avoided at all costs, which means our brain thinks they’re problems that need to be ‘fixed’,” she says. “But there is no exit ramp off the human experience. And there is no magic cure for negative emotions.”
Identify the emotion you are resisting feeling, or the emotion you are afraid of having in the future.
Is it shame? Sadness? Anxiety? Rejection? Take a moment to breathe into the sensations of these emotions. What do they feel like in your body?
Where can you feel them? What do they feel like? Can you make room for them in your body for a moment? What if you were to allow it to be there, without resisting it?
One adds: “When we allow the sensations of negative emotion without resisting them, they tend to rise, peak, and dissipate a hell of a lot faster. And then we discover – they’re actually not as terrifying as our brain led us to believe.”