We’ve all been guilty of it. Whether you’re beating yourself up about what happened yesterday, or constantly worrying about tomorrow. It’s easy to do. You keep running the same old thought process through your head.
‘I’m not smart enough, I’m not fit enough, I don’t have enough friends or money.’ As long as you think this way you will feel stressed out and anxious. A little worrying is alright and even natural. For example, feeling anxious before a big exam or a date with someone you really like.
What I’m trying to say, is you don’t want your overthinking to paralyze you or stop you from achieving your dreams. I see so many people in my practice worrying about the same thing. I tell them, ‘ you can’t go back and you can’t predict the future.’ Stay in the present. The present really is a gift. Enjoy the good times and learn from the bad times.
Here are 6 ways to stop overthinking:
- Ask yourself this one question. Is this even realistic? Maybe you shouldn’t of said what you said at the meeting. But, does it mean you will be fired? Probably not, we’ve all done it. Either said too much or not enough.
- Replace the old script. After you have asked yourself, is this realistic? And, answered no, it’s time to erase that old script that is running through your mind. These old messages we have rolling around in our head, started in our childhood. You could say, it’s alright to make mistakes. I am enough. I am learning or have great wisdom. The list goes on. You are actually starting to rewire your brain by doing this. Eventually, this will be a habit and you will be able to move on much more quickly.
- Pray. That’s right, you don’t have to be Christian to pray. You can make up your own prayer or say some of the more common ones. One of my favorites is The Serenity Prayer. This prayer is commonly used in 12 step programs. But, can be used for many life situations. It was introduced to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Looking back, I don’t know how I would of gotten through that without it.
- Schedule time for reflection. Take time to remember the good things. Like, the time you spoke up at the meeting and got a good response. You could even keep track of the good things in a journal. It’s alright to think about how you can do things differently in the future. For example, how to make the next meeting more productive or what type of questions to ask. This is a great time to ask for feedback. A lot of the time we are worried people don’t like us or what we have done. You may be surprised to find out people actually respect you and like the work you are doing.
- Schedule time to worry. This may sound crazy to you, but it’s not. This can actually be very productive. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of the day, where you can do some serious worrying. This will help you during the day when the worry monster rears it ugly head. Tell that monster you will worry about it later. You are not going to let the worry monster interfere with the perfectly good day you are having.Then, take a breath and move on.
- Practice Mindfulness. This is about living life in the present. I absolutely love Mindfulness, I can’t say enough about it. I started practicing mindfulness about 16 years ago and it has changed my life. Mindfulness changes the wiring in our brain. It’s not to say that I don’t have regrets about the past or worry about the future. I just see it much differently. I wish I would of started practicing sooner. I’m glad to see they offer Mindfulness for children and teens. That is a great time work on changing the wiring in the brain. If you are worried about where to start with it, just stop and take a few deep breaths.
Overthinking can be dangerous. It can prevent you from getting the sleep you really need. It can also lead to unnecessary emotional distress. Now, who needs that? It also takes a lot of time to overthink. Replace the time you overthink with something else. You can go for a walk, listen to music, or call a friend.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, she is there to help. For a free phone consultation please call or email (650) 892-0357 or lianne@LessonsforLove.com.