Overthinking comes in many forms - but to keep it simple - overthinking creates fantasy and unnecessary problems holding you back to just live and be present in this moment.
But let's keep it objective and view this phenomena in a more scientific way. We want to know why overthinking actually happens?
Why does overthinking happen ?
Overthinking is something wich every one sometimes does. It's something the average human always tends to. But some do it more frequently than others, sometimes reaching such a level of overthinking that it causes real problems for your health and ultimatively your life quality.
There is actually a fine line between problem-solving and overthinking. Many people mistake them for the same thing. The difference however is just that you won't solve any problems while overthinking, you will rather just create more. It's like a thought loop you have and those loops are rooted in uncertainty. Your brain has a very clever trick into manipulating yourself to always expecting the worst thing that could happen and what you could do about it. You can see it as a survival mechanism if you want - but in the modern time it has lost its main function.
We all know it - someone could be saying something in just a slight different tone than usual and we overthink it into some false assumptions. Maybe you had a fight with your boss and you overthink that he might will fire you, maybe you won't get another job ? And then, how can I pay off my loans ? You get it.
You Have Been Training Your Brain To Overthink Your Whole Life
The way you think is being done in two different ways. First, there is our cerebral cortex. This is the seat of all thinking and the logical part of the brain, which is also responsible for saving memories. Then there's another part called the amygdala : this is our brain's emotional center and it's also involved in anxiety and fear. This will usually happen if you get obsessed over something - say for example you had a fight with a good friend. But here is the important thing : the more you worry about anything, the more you train your brain to think. about it. It's like a vicious cycle and a bad habit.
How Do I Trick My Brain ?
Overthinking always prevents you from taking action. The more you overthink, the less you are active in the physical world. Telling yourself to not have a certain thought is probably the way you always tried to fight it - but there's a much better way than pure willpower. Try to replace the thought of a really colorful and vibrant image - just be creative. Whether it's a pink penguin holding a couple of roses in it's hands or a big, colorful sky - it will help you from nurturing your negative thoughts. Another way to deal with it is just to delay your overthinking - just tell yourself that you will delay your overthinking to a certain time. It sounds simple, but if you really try it you will see how effective it may be.
These are just some, effective ways to fight overthinking. But that's rather short term. How can you fight it in the long - term ?
How To Fight Overthinking In The Long Term
By becoming self-aware. Pay more attention to your thinking patterns. Take a look at your mind and regard it as your home. You hopefully would want to clean all the mess and dirt in your house, so you should be also doing it with your mental house.
Ask yourself questions like these : I’m feeling kind of anxious and uncomfortable. Where am I? Am I all in my head? Maybe I should go take a walk around the block and see what happens.
Mindfully detach you to circumstances in your life. Let's say you recognize the feeling of anxiety bubbling up - don't think I am anxious. You are not anxious - what you are is the underlying field of witnessing consciousness in which all thoughts come and go. Just like fear - it comes and goes, but you are just the mere observer of those feelings.
By just doing anything and being active, you break the act of overthinking.
We are all living in turbulent times. But just try to find a balance in thinking about something you can control and what you can not. You will not the break the habit of overthinking in one day. Just like anything else truly major you will need repeated practice to train your mind to be calm during times of stress.