When you catch yourself spending too much time in your own head, consider how you can turn things around.
Here are 10 things you need to remember when you are overthinking anything in your life.
1) Tune into Yourself
The first thing to do is pay attention to your thoughts.
You can catch them getting away from you if you aren’t paying attention to them.
Pay attention to how you feel, think, and act when you in a state of overthinking. You probably aren’t producing a lot or getting actual work done.
According to a Spiritual Master this is what observing your mind means:
“Become an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your consciousness. Just like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch.”
“In that simple observation you will see and experience that your thoughts and you are separate – because you can see that the one who is watching the thoughts is separate from the the thoughts, different from them. And you become aware of this, a strange peace will envelop you because you will not have any more worries. You can be in the midst of all kinds of worries but the worries will not be yours. You can in the midst of many problems but the problems will not be yours. You can be surrounded by thoughts but you will not be the thoughts…”
“And if you become aware that you are not your thoughts, the life of these thoughts will begin to grow weaker, they will begin to become more and more lifeless. The power of your thoughts lies in the fact that you think they are yours. When you are arguing with someone you say, “My thought is”. No thought is yours. All thoughts are different from you, separate from you. You just be a witness to them.”
[To dive deep into self-help techniques you can use to improve yourself, check out my no-nonsense guide to using eastern philosophy for a mindful and peaceful life here].
2) Change Your Tone
Instead of focusing on what can go wrong, start making a list of all the things that could go right.
When you focus on the positive, good things, start to happen.
When you focus on the negative, you focus on everything that is wrong and lose sight of opportunity and possibility.
Here’s a brilliant quote from Ernest Agyemang Yeboah:
“If you think the world is full of darkness, let us see your light. If you think the world is full of wickedness, let us see your goodness. If you think people are acting wrongly, let us see your right action. If you think people don’t know, let us see what you know. If you think the world is full of uncaring people let us see how you care about people. If you think life is not being fair to you, let us see how you can be fair to life. If you think people are proud, let us see your humility. We can easily find fault and we can easily see what is wrong but a positive attitude backed by a right action in a true direction is all we need to survive in peace and harmony in the arena of life.”
3) Distractions Are a Good Thing
If you ever find yourself obsessing about a problem, try to shift gears and give your brain a break.
Focusing on something else, even for a little while, can help your brain get the much-needed digestion time it needs to process the information you’ve given it.
Not to mention, when you distract yourself, your brain has time to solve the problem in other ways.
We tend to consciously try to fix things, but subconsciously our brains are working to provide solutions we don’t see yet.
You know that feeling of ah-ha! When a solution suddenly comes to you? That’s what happens when you move on from a problem and start to focus on something else.
4) Let Go of Fear
Nothing can stop you from moving on in your life like fear can.
If you focus on the negative and the things that are stopping you in your tracks, you will never get anywhere.
Many people are actively working to work against their fears and they are accomplishing amazing things.
Don’t let your fear stop you. Or at the very least, use it to fuel you and prove yourself wrong.
Joe Henry explains that fear itself is actually more destructive than the potential of the thing that arouses it:
“Where something even deeper than the marrow knows that the cost of avoiding what one fears is even greater than the actual object of that fear and so the fear itself is even more corrosive even more destructive than all the frightening potential of the thing that arouses it.”
The good news? We can choose to not let fear control our actions.
5) Look at Things from a Different Perspective
Rather than try to solve problems from your own perspective, take a minute and put yourself in the someone else’s shoes. What would they do? How would they want the problem to be solved?
Sometimes we get so caught up in what we think that we forget there are multiple ways to approach a problem and we overthink it to death.
When you change your point of view, answers and solutions become obvious in different ways.
You just need to be open to trying something different.
“If you want to change yourself, you have to change your point of view.”
― Nina Hrusa
6) Progress Over Perfection
When you are in the middle of overthinking everything, remember that you don’t have to have the perfection solution to move forward with an idea or project.
Making progress is more important than achieving perfection, especially when it comes to work or relationships.
You can adjust things as you go, but if you wait for the perfect time, place, solution, idea, concept, day, week, month or year, you will be plagued with that problem forever.
(If you’re looking for a structured, easy-to-follow framework to help you find your purpose in life and achieve your goals, check our eBook on how to be your own life coach here).
7) You Can’t Predict What Will Happen
While you might not be able to predict what will happen in the future, you can heavily influence it by making decisions in the here and now and having the confidence to trust your own judgment.
Sounds easier said than done, but it is possible to stop overthinking all the things that could happen: start by focusing on what is happening right now and deal with that first.
Then move on to the next thing.
“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” – Roy T. Bennett
8) Set a Timer
If you are feeling frustrated with your inability to move past a problem, set a timer and allow yourself to continue to focus on it for only that length of time.
This will prevent you from waste an entire day or more on something that you can’t fix right now. Decide how much time you will dedicate to this problem and move on
9) Acknowledge Your Efforts
Even if you aren’t making the kind of progress you were hoping for, take a moment to acknowledge the effort you have already put into it and any small wins you might have had up to this point.
If the issue or problem is important to you, then you’ll be able to come back to it when you have a clearer head. And if not, then be okay with letting it go.
10) Practice Gratitude
While you are stuck in a period of overthinking something, take a moment to be grateful for the problem.
Afterall, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing that you are faced with solving this problem: it could be a good problem like how do I spend my lottery winnings?
And if it’s more like, how do I pay my mortgage, than start from a place of being grateful for having a house to pay for in the first place.
There’s always another way of looking at what is happening that can get you out of the cycle of overthinking and start moving you in a direction that is more desirable to you.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar
[To learn mindful techniques to help you accept your emotions, check out our eBook on the art of mindfulness here].
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