If human beings weren’t able to consciously process thoughts, we could not have achieved political, social, technological, and economic advancement. Since thinking is able to provide so many advantages in modern society, it would be easy to assume that overthinking would be seen as a positive habit or quality. However, overthinking is a negative habit that has the potential to cause extreme problems.
Overthinking anything — whether it be situations, opinions, or people’s actions — can cloud your judgment and prevent you from taking action. It invades your mind with doubt, non-existent obstacles, negativity, and deteriorates the happiness in your life.
Fortunately, there are some action steps that you can take — to stop overthinking everything and take back control of your life.
Number One — Change Your Approach To Decision Making
It is important to learn what you can about yourself when it comes to overthinking. If you catch yourself overthinking something, ask yourself why you could be overthinking the situation.
Most of the time, overthinking is brought on by fear — usually a fear of making the wrong decisions about something. This may include, making the wrong decisions that may lead to failure, embarrassment, or other negative outcomes.
Overthinking, sadly, does not help you to make the right decisions. Rather, overthinking places you in a state of stagnation, which fuels the negative outcome you may be fearing. To help overcome these fears, you should remember to view the situation as an opportunity for learning, not as a situation where all will be lost if you don’t get everything right.
If you end up making the right decisions, that’s wonderful and will prove to be a positive thing to look back on. If you make the wrong decisions, you can use them to learn how to better go about these situations the next time around.
Number Two — Become Action-Oriented
You may have heard of something called analysis paralysis. This is brought on by overthinking or overanalyzing situations repeatedly. Further overanalyzing a situation that may be troubling you, will only hold you back from taking action.
If you catch yourself overthinking or procrastinating a situation, simply take action. And if you get an outcome that you didn’t hope for, you can learn to improvise and overcome the situation.
Number Three — Think About The Master Plan
Overthinking is a great way to fuel negative thoughts about situations that aren’t very significant in your life. Overanalyzing things makes small problems seem much bigger than they really are. Taking a look at the bigger picture will help you stop overthinking these small situations.
Asking yourself if whatever is giving you so much trouble will really matter a month from now; in a year; five or ten years from now — you will find that most times, the answer is no.
Once you learn to stop giving significance to these small problems, you will be one step closer to overcoming your habit of overthinking.
Number Four — Stop Waiting For The Perfect Moment
When you constantly overthink things, you become prone to the belief that there is always a perfect moment for everything. This leads to intense procrastination and stress.
For example, if you wanted to start a small business, it would be easy to overthink the following questions: What if I don’t have the money or time?
What if I don’t get customers or good reviews?
Could I really start this new business?
This would most likely lead to you giving up on the idea and not starting the business at all. The truth is, there’s never really a perfect time to do anything — whether it be starting a business, getting married, having children, writing a book, or doing anything else.
Overthinking will only prevent you from getting things done, no matter how much you want to do them. Remembering that there is never a perfect time for anything will put you at ease when it comes to certain situations like these.
Number Five — Set Time Limits For Making Decisions
Giving yourself endless time to get something done or make the right decisions, provides easy access for overthinking. You may start overthinking the possibilities or things you may have left out. To avoid doing this, you can set time limits for making certain decisions.
Of course, when it comes to setting limits for decisions, the time limit you set, must correspond accordingly to the decisions that you are trying to make. Once you’ve reached your time limit, avoid analyzing the situation any further. Make your final decision and move forward with what you’ve ultimately decided.
Number Six — Give Your Best And Forget The Rest
It is easy to overthink new situations that you find yourself in. You may worry about your ability to handle them. Maybe you think you’re not dedicated enough, rich enough, or smart enough to do what you feel is required of you.
This hinders your ability to face situations, even if you are perfectly capable of handling them. Once you find yourself in a situation that may cause you to overthink your abilities, focus on putting forth your best effort — and avoid worrying about the overall outcome.
Many times, the outcomes of situations depend on outside factors that we have no control over. Simply do what you can to the best of your ability, and forget the rest.
Number Seven — Learn To Recognize And Stop Extra Thoughts
Overthinking is usually characterized by thoughts that are not helpful in any way when it comes to big-picture ideas. If you find yourself overthinking something, take a moment to relax — and ask yourself if the thoughts you’re thinking are helping you in any way. If they are not helping you, mentally tell yourself to stop.
For example, fearing that you may get into a car crash as you get into a car, will not help you at all. Once you learn how to tell yourself to stop, focus your remaining attention on whatever it is that you are doing.
When it comes to overthinking anything, learn to recognize the thoughts that are not helpful. Give yourself mental instructions — to put an end to these negative thoughts so you can direct your focus on the given situation.
Number Eight — Practice Introspection
One of the easiest ways to overcome mental negativity is to grab a notepad and pen and make a list of your thoughts. When you finally recognize these overwhelming thoughts, writing them down will help you avoid stressing yourself out over the negativity.
After writing down what you’re worried about, you can create another column — opposite of the list, and write what you can do about each thing that is bothering you. If there is something you CAN do about the situation, write it down and give yourself a time limit to do it.
If NOT, remember that there’s nothing more you can do about it. Learning the art of introspection will help you rid yourself of over-analyzing — and make you realize that overthinking will not help you in any way.
Number Nine — Consider The Worst-Case Scenario
When we overthink situations, we often create imaginary fears and consider disastrous scenarios that are unlikely to play out in real life. If you do not take a closer look at these scenarios, they may keep you from trying new things. So, next time you catch yourself overthinking a situation, ask yourself what’s the worst possible thing that can happen.
For example, maybe you have a job interview coming up, and you start stressing about it and overthinking it.
But what’s the worst possible thing that can happen from failing that interview?
You will simply have to apply for more jobs. Using this technique can help you realize that the worst-case scenario in a situation, usually really isn’t as scary as you make it out to be. Learning to consider these scenarios will save you a lot of mental anguish.
Number Ten — Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Most people tend to overthink things because they are being too hard on themselves. You may be craving to be successful — to the point where you’re beating yourself up if things don’t go as you want them to. You find that you are unable to forgive yourself for the times when you’ve failed.
It is absolutely impossible to break the habit of overthinking if you’re constantly criticizing yourself. The truth is, that life will not always go exactly as you envision it. There will be times where things will go wrong — and that’s okay.
You must learn to forgive yourself and realize that in some cases, the situations you find yourself in are not your fault. Once you’ve learned not to be as hard on yourself, you will be increasingly more confident — and less prone to overthinking.
Number Eleven — Think Usefully
It is easy to overthink situations in which we have no control over. Worrying about such scenarios is basically useless thinking. What you should be focusing on is thinking usefully. For instance, say you want a promotion at work. A useful thing you could say to yourself is, “What do I need to do in order to get this promotion?”
And after you’ve asked yourself that question, you can work on bettering your skills or furthering your education in order to get the promotion. Worrying about if your boss will even agree to promote you, is useless thinking.
If you have done everything that you can in order to get the promotion, it is then still up to your boss to decide whether or not he or she will promote you. If you catch yourself overthinking a situation, focus your thoughts on constructive criticism and what you can do, rather than focusing on what could go wrong.
Number Twelve — Trust Yourself
Overthinking future events is usually due to feeling insecure about yourself. You may not be confident in your abilities to handle situations, which in turn makes you doubt yourself and leads to overthinking. However, you are built to handle most situations you will find yourself in in life.
You just need to remember to find confidence in yourself and in your abilities. Whatever is in front of you, is something that you can handle. You have the ability to make the right decisions. Once you learn to have trust in yourself, it will be much easier for you to make decisions — and overthink situations less.
Most of us overthink or overanalyze certain situations throughout our lives, and it’s perfectly normal to do so. However, when your overthinking becomes a habit, it will take some time to learn how to prevent this habit from taking over your life; and following these simple steps can help you do that.
All in all, it is important to understand that not all things can be controlled, and it is also important to learn how to accept that. Overthinking is often caused by a person’s desire to be able to control every aspect of their life, but there’s no way you can do that. Once you are able to accept that there are many things outside of your control, you will be significantly closer to solving your overthinking problem.