Overthinkers

Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day.

Thinking too much prevents them from getting anything done. And it wreaks havoc on their mood.

@jam_iee52

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Problem Solving

Overthinking often involves two destructive thought patterns--ruminating and incessant worrying.

  • Ruminating involves dwelling on the past. "I should have stayed at my last job. I would be happier than I am now.""My parents didn't teach me how to be confident. My insecurities have always held me back."
  • Persistent worrying involves negative predictions about the future. "I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I'm going to forget everything I'm supposed to say."

Overthinking can become such a habit that you don't even recognize when you're doing it. Practice paying attention.

When you're overthinking past or future events, acknowledge that your thoughts aren't productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.

  • If the problem is something you have some control over, consider how you can prevent the problem or challenge yourself to identify five potential solutions.
  • If it's something you have no control over--like a natural disaster--think about the strategies you can use to cope with it. Focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and effort.
Challenge your thoughts

Remember that your emotions will interfere with your ability to look at situations objectively. 

Take a step back and look at the evidence. What evidence do you have that your thought is true? What evidence do you have that your thought isn't true?

Incorporate 20 minutes of "thinking time" into your daily schedule. During that time period let yourself worry, ruminate, or mull over whatever you want. When your time is up, move onto something else. 
When you start overthinking things outside of your scheduled thinking time, simply remind yourself that you'll need to wait until your "thinking time" to address those issues in your mind.

It's impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you're living in the present.

Mindfulness will help you become more aware of the here and now.

Telling yourself to stop thinking about something will backfire.

Change the channel in your brain by changing your activity. Exercise, engage in conversation on a completely different subject, or work on a project that distracts you.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES

Dangers of being an overthinker
  • It increases your chances of mental illness. And as your mental health declines, your tendency to ruminate increases.
  • It interferes with problem-solving. It will cause you to dwell on the problem rather than look for solutions.
  • It disturbs your sleep. You'll be more likely to toss and turn for hours before you drift off.

1

IDEA

To avoid over-ruminating about a decision, give yourself a time frame to think about it. 

If it’s a small issue such as what paint color to paint your office, perhaps a deadline of 10 minutes is sufficient; whereas a larger decision such as whether to accept a new job offer in another city may warrant a couple of days of thought.

When you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

It allows you to stop thinking about something and to focus your time and energy on something else that actually does matter to you.

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