“Overthinking; the art of creating problems that weren’t even there.” – Unknown
Have you ever gone to the movie theater and been disappointed because the movie you thought was going to go be a blockbuster hit turned out to be a bust; a really bad movie? Most of us have. But did you get back in line and pay good money to sit through it again…and again…and again?
As ridiculous as that sounds, that’s exactly what you do when you overthink.
Overthinking is a dangerous mindset trap where you dwell on something too much and too long; you give this thought so much weight with no intention of getting out of the vicious loop.
Although we all overthink from time to time, some people just can’t shut their minds off from the endless bombardment of worrisome thoughts.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to expose the dangers of overthinking and give you 3 keys to get out of this habitual way of living.
Worry and Rumination
Usually, overthinking focuses on events that have happened in the past or it projects ominous things yet to come; future events. Basically, it’s worry and rumination which is so very dangerous to your health and happiness.
Did you know that your brain has 6 powerful mental faculties? Because imagination is one of those 6 faculties, when you ruminate, your brain has the potential to invent the unimaginable. Overthinking oftentimes causes you to conjure up catastrophic things in your minds that simply don’t exist.
When you habitually overthink, you take things to the worst-case scenario and there is no rationale behind them.
According to a study published by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, research shows that overthinking is not just a bad habit; it can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.
Chronic worry puts you in the stress response and brings on a surge of adrenaline. If this triggered state continues, it could potentially lead to anxiety and set off a host of health problems. Just an FYI, rumination is a risk factor for major depression.
3 Keys to Tame Overthinking
1. Wake Up
Your body gives you signals when things aren’t right. If you are stressed, wake up and take a mental inventory of what you are feeling in your body; neck pain, stomach sensations, a racy heart rate.
Once you are aware of your body’s sensations, press the pause button. Stop to evaluate what you are thinking about. Chances are the thoughts are negative, cyclical, and toxic.
2. Switch the Movie Theater
Look for thoughts that are repetitively negative and weighty. What good are they? Is continuing to have those thoughts helpful to your health or wellbeing?
Just like the bad movie at the theater, don’t go back in line and see the movie again, it’s time to switch the movie you’re playing in your head.
3. Create a Solutions-Oriented Internal Dialogue
As a coach, my goal is for my clients to find their own answers. I do that by listening deeply to them and asking them powerful questions. You can do the same thing for yourself.
That is the last step in the process to stop overthinking. Once you wake up to the fact that something doesn’t feel right, switch your movie theaters and create an internal monologue.
You are intentionally asking yourself questions to find an answer; a solution, which replaces overthinking.
Ask Yourself Possibility Questions:
- What else is possible here?
- How might I be able to find a solution to this?
- What resources are available to me?
Hopefully utilizing these tools will help reduce the time you spend overthinking. By doing so, you are creating a more peaceful environment for yourself with less stress and worry.
It won’t happen overnight but let’s take a lesson from a well-worn but spot-on old French Proverb from circa 1190,
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Tackling this mindset trap is going to take time, persistence, and discipline. Be patient with yourself but remain consistent. Your brain will start believing what you are telling it and before you know it, you will have created a new, healthy mindset.
Always remember – Nothing is Impossible
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