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Overthinking and how to deal with it

Updated on October 9, 2019

Overthinking is the habit of obsessing over problems imaginary or real and failing to do anything worthwhile to reduce the probability of things going wrong. This is a waste of time as we never reach to a definitive answer to the situation at hand but allow it to steal the moment. Therefore it sucks off our time and makes us unproductive and confused. Constant overthinking makes us prone to depression and anxiety. Overthinking on tasks that we need to do ie obsessing over what may go wrongs, signals to the brain that the current situation has serious implications. Our emotions take over and we succumb to overthinking. It will make you unproductive and inefficient in your work and therefore is a serious problem.

For example If I am a student and I have a math exam coming up and I obsess about how terrible I am at math and if I am cannot solve the questions then I have a low IQ and will eventually have to work at wendys. How likely is it that I will pass the exam. Little to none. As at the first experience of failure, I will be reminded of all the implication this holds. The searth for the error in my work becomes irrelevant while the implicative thoughts take centre stage. In this case it is obvious how directly our mindset will determine our likelyhood of success.

However there is another way that overthinking acts to waste our time, like a snake in the grass. When overthinking comes in the form of suggestions. For example When I study for my exams I usually have a fixed plan of action which I follow for most days but I know that on the last day before the exam I will be the most unproductive. I do have a plan but I start obsessing over the things that I have not done. These are usually obscure, unimportant topics but the day before the exam everything seems important. What ends up happening is that my initial plan has broken and I couldn’t decide which of these unimportatnt topics I should do making me lose an entire day just before the exam.

Well I want to be productive and I think most other people do too. This problem does not suit our ideal lifestyles. What we want instead is peak performance. This brings me to the next topic of discussion, The state of flow. Have you ever felt that time passed by faster while with working or playing a sport? Probably you have experienced flow before. This is state that can be described as the state of fluid productivity, when we learn faster and process information at an optimum pace. It is measured that flow actually increases productivity by 5 times. Flow state is a feeling immersion that we achieve when we do something that is just challenging enough that it keeps us interested. When time flies and our sense of self vanishes. The only thing important is the work that we do, everything else is immaterial. The state of flow is described by psychologists as a state in which the world around us becomes immaterial while the work we do takes centre stage. A complete focus of the senses and loss of self occurs.

Well it turns out that according to brains scans it proves that a person in flow has a quiet prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex holds our self awareness, our ego, which is exactly what we call on when we overthink. The habit of overthinking therefore involves your ego, which is what we want shut to achieve flow. To not waste our time on fruitless pursuits.

So in conclusion overthinking is not just a complete waste of your time, it is also making it less likely that we will achieve flow, which by the way is exactly what we want. It reduces our ability to achieve our goals and follow our plans.So what are we going to do to solve this problem. Well, this is what I figured out. First of all sir/madam, we need a plan, a schedule to tell us what we need to do so that our overthining mind doesn’t make us waste another day. A schedule may sound very childish and stupid, yes but I didn’t ask you how you feel about it. Make it. Next In the schedule that you make, make sure to see where it is most likely that overthinkiing takes over, for this you need to observe when it is triggered. Our schedule needs to be smart enough to take this into consideration. This is how we will try to avoid the ill effects of overthinking. However you may ask how we reduce its effects right now. Do not worry, I have a suggestion to help you in your current pursuits. A fear journal.

This may sound counterproductive yes but bear with me. First I want you note down the fears that you waste your time ie under the topics of career, relationships and spiritual. Now we divide them into two parts, one in which all things are under our control and we actually have something that we can do about it and another in which all things that are too abstract and unlikely to occur . The abrstract ones are null and void, if they are not under your control then they are immaterial and an utter waste of my time and yours. For the ones that are in your control, you break down and find a core solution to the problem, that is smart enough to produce the results you want and still can be added into your current schedule.

Fear setting needs to become a habit for fellow overthinkers like me. Once a week or day depending on how much you need it, if there is anything that you may remember from this article, it is this. Break down your fears so that you may see how foolish they are or to find a way to reduce their probability to occur. I hope with this you realize how critical solving this problem is and also how easy it is to solve. Solve this problem and by default you will solve many others.

In my opinion, overthinking is a way that our mind attempts to waste our time but it can also be seen as a reminder for something that we have missed that can come back to bite us. For that reason I like the idea of a fear journal as it will consider the option of the overthinking topics to be of reason and see if they are solvable or if they are wasteful.

Thank you for reading and please do rate the article below :) .

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