11 Dec Overthinking things?
I used to overthink things all the time. I’ve managed to stop overthinking everything. I have got better at it. But it still happens from time to time.
I’ve been overthinking about writing this blog. How ironic is that?
If you tend to overthink you might never get rid of it completely – it’s how some of us are made. But you can learn to notice when you’re doing it and disrupt or interrupt your thinking. More of that later.
Overthinking generally falls into two camps. Things that have happened in the past and things that might happen in the future.
Have you ever had a meeting, a call or coffee with someone, and then got home and relived the whole thing over and over in your head for the rest of the day and often into the night?
You think about what you said or didn’t say. What you did or should have done. What other people thought of you.
You also go over and over things that might happen. You run through every scenario. What will people think? What if I get it wrong? What if…..?
You catastrophize about things that might happen in the future. This was my particular specialism.
Thinking is a good thing.
But overthinking creates problems that don’t exist. It happens in your head. You usually keep it to yourself and it’s pretty tiring.
Overthinking can make you feel stressed or anxious or lose sleep.
It takes your focus away from the things you enjoy or want to think about.
So, how do you break the pattern and stop overthinking?
This is where disruption and interruption come in.
To stop overthinking, change the record, and get out of your head.
There are different ways you can do that – but my favourite, and the easiest, is to write things down.
Writing your thoughts down works because you think faster than you write. You have to slow your thoughts down to put pen to paper.
It gives you focus and brings you into the present.
If you’re overthinking something that happened in the past, like a conversation or meeting then get out a pen and paper and ask yourself these questions.
- What happened?
- What’s bugging me about what happened?
- What would I do differently (next time)?
(Write down the answers).
Then let it go. It sounds easier said than done – it takes practice.
You can start to let it go by distracting yourself.
Get up and go and do something different that needs your attention for 10 minutes. It’s all about breaking the pattern.
If you’re overthinking something that might happen you can do the same thing. Put pen to paper and answer some questions. Different ones this time.
- What do I already know?
- What don’t I know?
- What’s my big worry?
There’s another way you can interrupt or disrupt your brain to stop overthinking.
Give yourself a time limit.
Allow yourself to overthink for a set time. You get back from a meeting, set a timer and indulge yourself with 10 minutes of overthinking time.
You are allowed to overthink for that time only. After that you move, get up and do something completely different. Distract yourself. Get a change of scenery.
Most problems aren’t solved with more thinking. They are solved with less! (I read that somewhere, I can’t remember where, but it stuck with me)