What is overthinking?
No matter how hard we try, we all have had experiences where we can’t stop thinking about something. We examine situations to see what we could have done differently or try to anticipate how something might turn out. We analyse the tiniest detail of an incident to figure out what it all means.
So given our primal goal is survival, this overthinking or rumination is a stress response or coping mechanism to help protect us from feelings like disappointment, failure, rejection, regret, guilt etc. These emotions are ones we should avoid, not just because they are just unpleasant, but they make us feel weak and vulnerable.
Relentless over-analysing and self-imposed mental interrogation or self-critique is very destructive and leads to increased stress and less ability to cope with daily life. Which eventually this can lead to chronic anxiety and depression
Overthinkers experience an irresistible urge to dissect practically everything they think or feel but especially those unwanted, random thoughts that pop into their minds. Instead of thoughts appearing and going as we do our day to day activities, overthinking happens when thoughts do not come and go in each moment, but persist and are mostly from the past.
Overthinking clogs up our headspace and consumes our concentration and energy which is stressful and demoralising. It’s a habitual trap because going over and over things with the same line of questioning does not resolve or make them feel better.
Many different types of situations can make you overthink, but typically they will have these in common; fears and doubts, things that affect your survival, health, popularity, confidence and happiness. Feeling out of control over a situation and not being able to work things out, unresolved situations, ambiguities, such as conflict between what to do or not, what might happen or not. Self-criticism and feeling inadequate.
Here are some further characteristics; an urge to know why things happen, so you can avoid them next time. Fear of the unknown and that something bad might happen. Getting out of a difficulty. Being found out if you have done something you shouldn’t or feeling regret.
And more things overthinkers have in common: in relationships, when you get mistreated or unintentionally hurt others or when they get upset with you. Being falsely blamed and denied an opportunity to make it right. When trust is broken. Worries about your or a loved one’s health and future. Significant decisions and changes.
Here are some of the feelings that accompany overthinking. For example, distress, paranoia, suspicion, overwhelm and shame. Also feeling defensive, anxious, isolated and demotivated.
And now, here are some signs you might be overthinking. You live in your head and
turn things over and over. You exist in the past or future and over analyse every small detail of situations. You have relentless repetitive thoughts, you cannot sit still and find peace. You are always on the lookout for things to go wrong, people getting hurt or upset with you.
Some more signs like: you look for distractions to keep your mind occupied. You feel isolated and disconnected from others. Any relief from overthinking because some things have been resolved is always short-lived because you immediately look for things you have missed and cannot move on. You get attached to things, like something you want to happen or not letting go of bad things.
How to gain empowerment against overthinking?
To have what you want, like happiness, love, health, friendship or peace of mind, you need to utilise your power to choose it and bring it into your life. Anything that gets in the way of what you want is disempowering you. What has been described above is you handing over power to overthinking, and as you read my other articles, you will see there are so many different examples you do this.
And here is an important way to see empowerment. Every thought, feeling, behaviour or thing is energy, which in turn have certain vibrations and frequencies. Empowerment, compassion and confidence for example, have higher vibrations and frequencies compared to feelings of fear and doubt.
This is because your innate abilities or soul vibrate at high frequencies, and so
help bring into your life want you want naturally. This is when you feel empowered. Unfortunately because of negative experiences you have learnt feelings of lower vibration and frequency. Hence you are disempowered.
Therefore, what you need to do is raise the frequency and vibration of your thoughts by removing fear and doubt. Empowerment is always available to you. It can be triggered when you are forced by circumstances to change your thoughts and feelings or it can begin with curiosity and you finding the right questions that open a new way of seeing things? The Principles will help in both scenarios, but the latter is more manageable.
Now let us focus on ways of overcoming overthinking by looking at the beliefs and doubts that cause it to help you identify with them. Then we will look at some empowering questions and beliefs from The Principles to assist in breaking the habit of Overthinking.
The Principles originate from a part within us all that is candid, compassionate and courageous: a part of you that removes false beliefs such as, you should do what others say and you have no heart or mind of your own!
Breaking any form of habit can be challenging but becomes easier if you know why you want to, are openminded and are willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Let us look at three examples. In one imagine your overthinking is caused because you have these beliefs and doubts; have I upset them? what do they think of me? and do I fit in with what they want?
Let us now take a look at your life through the eyes of the ‘self principle who knows you are unique, whole, enough, worthy and perfectly imperfect as you are. As a result, now consider these empowering questions and truths: only you decide who you want to be! Does it matter if you are different and why? And is how you are of concern to others? Why?
In another situation, let us say you overthink because you have these beliefs and doubts: I need approval from others, I have to justify my actions and others put doubts in my mind.
As before view your life through the eyes of the Commander principle
who knows you are the captain of your life, you decide what you want or not, and you stand by your choices.
Once again, ask yourself these empowering questions and truths: who knows what is best for you? Are you or others who is responsible for the consequences of your decisions? Do you or others determine what feels right? Are you, taking charge of your life or handing it to others?
Finally, imagine you have these beliefs and fears which make you overthink things: I worry what might happen, I need to know everything is ok and what if my fears are right?
Now, take a look at your life through the eyes of the Warrior principle who knows you face fear and embrace uncertainty and adversity as an opportunity to grow.
Reflect on these empowering truths from the Warrior principle: you cannot control or predict the future. Step forward and keep going: whatever your mind says, you are greater than your fear.