Too much thinking is exhausting. Paralysis by analysis is one of the main problems of our time. Thinking too much is one of the main reasons we feel frustrated and have low energy on a daily basis.
Analyzing a situation and studying the pros and cons is something necessary and healthy to make good decisions. However, in many cases, we turn more than necessary in our head without reaching a conclusion or a concrete solution.
In addition, we sometimes jump, without stopping, from one argument to another that contradicts itself or to quickly pass from one emotion to another. For example, we went from feeling excited about a new job opportunity to starting to list everything that could go wrong or projecting possible adverse scenarios. So, in most cases, when we are too surprised, we switch from positive emotions to negative emotions such as guilt or fear.
Research shows that overanalyzing things has a series of negative effects on our bodies: it increases cortisol levels (the stress hormone), reduces creativity, clouds judgment and impedes decision-making. However, there are ways to stop going there again and again. In this article we will see top tips to stop overthinking backed by psychology.
How is the overthinking model?
Overthinking is something common; however, that does not mean it is positive. Overthinking manifests itself in two main ways: rumination (repetitive negative thoughts with no real solution) and projection (making often catastrophic predictions about the future).
Overthinking people don’t just use words to conjure up their thoughts. They can also imagine situations and events (usually catastrophic); for example, they may imagine their car going off the road or losing their job. However, no matter how they do it, the habit of overthinking and overthinking ultimately prevents them from doing anything productive.
In addition, overthinking can have negative consequences on our mental health. A study conducted by Harvard University recently showed that excess brain activity is responsible for the depletion of an essential protein in our body. This means that overthinking can reduce our life expectancy.
There are also significant psychological consequences of overthinking. For example, “rumination,” or repetitive thoughts, can lead to anxiety or depression, binge eating, and, in more severe cases, self-harm. Excessive thinking in its most severe form (when it manifests more intensely than usual) is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, which needs to be treated.
Because of our behavior patterns, we all think too much from time to time; in fact, worrying is part of the human condition. However, we are not born thinking too much, it is the result of our development. Good and bad behavioral patterns are learned through life experiences over time. And just as we can learn them, people can also unlearn these harmful patterns by changing our behavioral patterns.
Tips to stop overthinking
Before learning to stop overthinking, you have to understand where the problem comes from. Sometimes reviewing things too much is a consequence of a lack of security, it can have its origin in certain mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If this is the case, it is essential to consult a medical professional to treat the problem.
In some cases, the overthinking only appears when making a complicated decision or when faced with certain insecurities. Although in the beginning, analyzing complex situations in detail is a good way to arrive at satisfactory solutions or conclusions. Overanalysis is not part of rational thinkingsince it does not meet any concrete objective, it is simply a means of delaying a decision.
Whatever the reason for overthinking, there are various techniques that can help relieve stress resulting from excessive brain activity. One of the first questions we need to ask ourselves is, “Why am I reviewing things so much?”, and depending on our answer, explore the different solutions that can change this pattern of behavior. However, this is not an easy task, so here we list a series of tips to achieve it.
1. Identify our harmful patterns
As we have seen, when we worry too much or think about problems for too long, our thought processes can become destructive. This is often caused by negative thought patterns that show up when people are stressed or experiencing conflict (external or internal). Two of the most common harmful patterns are rumination and projection.
Rumination is the act of thinking continuously and without coming to any conclusion on pessimistic or gloomy matters. This type of behavior can cause people to isolate themselves and even become depressed. Rumination is especially common among perfectionists, although everyone can experience it. Projection is similar to rumination, but it is forward-looking: it consists of anticipating that something will go wrong. These negative thought patterns are deeply tied to limiting beliefs and past experiences.
2. Changing the story we tell ourselves
The stories we tell ourselves about who we are have a significant effect on our lives. But the key question is whether these stories we tell ourselves hold us back or allow us to move forward. Overthinking causes people to make a whole series of statements about themselves., such as “I’ve always been an insecure person” or “I’m more anxious than others.” These limiting beliefs can be very difficult to change if we never ask ourselves the right questions, such as, “Why am I going back on things so much? or “Why am I so worried about making mistakes?” »
To be able to overcome these thoughts about ourselves – which keep us trapped – we must first identify them. Then, whenever we detect that we are repeating one of those old stories, we should try to replace it with a positive story, like “I am able to control my emotions.” By changing the story we tell ourselves, we can change our mindset.
3. Let go of the past
Usually, people who tend to overthink focus a lot of energy on the past, they think about what could have been or should have been. However, these thoughts bring nothing useful (lo pasado, pasado está). The only thing we can change in the past is how we interpret it.
Leaving the past behind allows us to significantly change our history. This means that bad experiences do not control our present emotions and mistakes do not influence future decisions. Additionally, forgiving others and coming to terms with our past also allows us to let go of any pent-up anger or bitterness.
4. Focus on the present moment
One of the most effective ways to avoid excessive ruminations and worries about the future is to learn to live in the moment. However, most of us are not able to do this.
Being aware of the present moment requires constant concentration. How does the world around us look and sound? Why are we grateful? By practicing daily rituals such as meditation and mindful breathing, we can gradually learn to live in the present instead of worrying about the future. Many studies have shown the power of meditation in our brains and reducing stress levels.
5. Accept our emotions
Excessive worry is usually caused by facing some type of fear, for example, feeling that situations are not in our control or that we don’t have the life we want.
Contrary to what most people believe, living in the present moment does not mean burying our negative emotions, but paying attention to them. We must therefore learn to identify the causes of our emotions, and The first step is to recognize them. Only when we are able to accept our feelings, even the worst ones, can we handle them properly.
6. Focus on solutions
We must remember that no one controls our life but us. Focusing on solutions is about: identifying the issues in our lives that are causing us stress and anxiety, and once we have done that, working to resolve them instead of endlessly reviewing them.
Only by taking control of our lives can we permanently stop overthinking.. For example, if our negative thoughts are related to work-related stress, we may need to consider changing companies or careers.
7. Don’t get carried away with negative feelings
As we have seen, overthinking can cause us to stagnate and not be able to make decisions. This often happens because fear of making a bad decision. When this happens, it’s important to notice whether this feeling is something rational or stems from unwarranted fear. To resolve it, we can focus on our body, breathe deeply, and imagine making the decision. Doing this is a way to know what feeling guides our behavior and what is the best way forward.
By learning to live in the present instead of overthinking, we can dramatically improve our happiness and especially our peace of mind. To achieve this, we must remember that life is not something that happens to us without our being able to act; This means that even negative emotions can lead to positive results. By treating these emotions as part of our growth, we can make the most of them.