Moving Past The One Thing That Holds You Back: Overthinking

Jim Woods by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Overthinking doesn’t sound so bad on the surface — thinking is good, right?

However, overthinking can cause a lot of problems. When you overthink, you get stuck. You get negative — maybe even depressed. And you will often lock yourself into a stressful mindset.

If this feels like familiar territory to you, here are some steps you can take to move past overthinking.

Self-Awareness Is Key

You need to know when you’re overthinking and what sets you off before you can do anything about it. So, any time you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed or anxious, step back and look at the situation and how you’re responding. What story are you telling yourself? Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re a loser or a failure.

The story you tell yourself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re wasting your time or that you just can’t do something. Here’s the thing: the story you tell yourself affects your attitude which affects your mood. It also affects your momentum, and these things affect your entire life.

In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion: fear. A fear-filled story works great in a horror novel but not so much in real life.

When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it’s easy to become paralyzed. Next time you sense that you starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front.

It’s Time For A Change

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a way to distract yourself with a fun activity. Play an instrument. Go to the zoo. Dance. Exercise. Knit. Draw. Paint. Participate in an activity that helps you stop overanalyzing. A change of scenery will often do you a lot of good.

And here’s another thing that stops overthinking in its tracks: action. When you take action, you must make a decision. Be willing to be wrong. Don’t be a perfectionist. Repeat after me: you will make some mistakes. This is all part of the learning process. It is not a bad thing. No one gets be right all of the time.

Leave The Past In The Past

Past failures love to hang around in our minds, don’t they. You failed here, so you’ll fail there. This is garbage. Seriously, this kind of thinking is a total lie. Anyone who has ever created anything after a “massive failure” is proof this is wrong. And I put massive failure in quotes because we often like to think everyone else is watching us closely and labeling us a failure. They are not.

People are busy and have lives of their own. Most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner a few days ago, so we are not labeling people as failures and keeping score in that kind of way. We’re just not. And if someone is, that says more about him than anything else. Keep trying. Keep doing. Keep making mistakes. And keep learning.

The Takeaway

Remember, no one can predict the future. All you have is right now. We aren’t promised tomorrow. All we’ve got is today, so why not make the most of it? Instead of getting stuck by asking questions that start with “why,” like “Why am I not successful?” start asking questions that start with “what.” Ask “What is one thing I can do today to be more successful?” Then take action. This small adjustment in mindset can help you avoid overthinking and start taking more action.

So… what can you do today?

It’s time to go do it.

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