Overthinking can become a habit that leads to symptoms of anxiety. Here are 3 ways to stop overthinking. “Stinking Thinking” is what I call it. Reasoning and trying to figure everything out before we take action or choose to enjoy our day can make life a drag, definitely steals our joy and can lead to anxiety and depressive symptoms. Overthinking stops us from taking action toward our hopes and dreams. Some people will defend overthinking behaviors as “being cautious” or looking at a situation from all angles to “be prepared”. Unfortunately that “being prepared” and “cautious” mentality is usually fear or failure related meaning “being prepared” for the worse to happen.
Of course planning is part of goal setting, however overthinking situations takes the positive skill of planning and leads to cognitive distortions such as catastrophisizing and negative forecasting. Overthinking turns our excitement into anxiety and then we do nothing and then feel sad or discouraged when we do not take action toward our goals or choose to enjoy the day.
Catastrophic thinking and negative forecasting are labels for cognitive distortions that happen when we overthink situations to the point of distorting reality. In the mind we choose to believe our worst fear will become a reality, “what if” thinking to the negative, “”what if I fail, “what if I lose everything, what if…fill in the blank with your greatest fears about the dream, goal situation or day.
Below are 3 tips to overcome overthinking thought patterns today
1. Be aware. Read and study about the cognitive distortions and learn which patterns are your weakness that you would like to change or strengthen. Remember awareness leads to insight and then to change. As you are aware of negative “what if” thought pattern begin to challenge them for example “what if I fail” would be changed to “what if I succeed”. Just changing this one thought gives us a moment of hope and positive energy.
2. Take action. If there is really a problem or concern be confident in your abilities to problem solve and take action, one thought at a time. Slow down, schedule time to worry or problem solve, for example every morning for one hour that is your time to get a journal and write down all your worries, negative thoughts and concerns about a particular situation, goal. project or life in general. Knowing that time is scheduled when intrusive thoughts become ruminating or overthinking, say stop, thought stopping technique, and tell yourself I will think about that tonight at 8:00 or whenever your scheduled time is to take action and write down the thoughts.
3. Be mindful. Make a consistent effort to mange your thoughts so they will not manage you. Our thoughts are one of the things we can control and change at an6 given moment. As you are aware of your thoughts, you will identify your overthinking tendencies and choose to begin to change them. Change your thoughts and we can change our life.
Stay present, peaceful and powerful
“Where the mind goes, the man follows”