Overthinking May Be Ruining Your Life, Here's How
If I had one dollar for every hour I spent deep-thinking, I would be a billionaire today, literally.
When I was younger, it seemed like a cool habit as this simply meant I spoke and acted more intelligently than my peers. Through school and subsequently, job interviews, my deep-thinking nature afforded me meaningful conversations and left people impressed and amazed at how "deep" my mind worked. Although deep-thinking is a favorable human characteristic as people who are deep-thinkers are usually proffer great solutions to problems and are highly sought after, there lies a problem. Deep-thinkers are likely to over-think or form the habit of over-thinking, this is detrimental and I'd show you why.
How It Starts
Clinical Psychologist Helen Odessky, Psy.D shared this insight on the habit of over-thinking; "Often people confuse over-thinking with problem-solving... but what ends up happening is that we just go in a loop... " David Carbonell, a clinical psychologist also notes; "...because we feel vulnerable about the future, we keep trying to solve problems in our heads."
Most people who over-think would agree with the Psychologists quoted above, I for one noticed my inability to make the littlest of decisions on time because I spent time thinking of how vulnerable the outcomes of those decisions could make me. Permit me to admit that this didn't mean I made the right decisions all the time though, I made terrible decisions and wasted more valuable time, thinking about my new failures. Other detriments of overthinking are:
- Overthinking is a distant cousin of procrastination, who lives far but still manages to always meet up whenever she needs to: I spent more time overthinking stuff than actually doing them. This resulted in some sort of stagnancy in my life, then fear, and then anxiety.
- Overthinking leads to Depression: Overthinking is mentally draining and since your mind is constantly worried, joy and gratitude slowly leave and then anxiety sends you down the long dark tunnel to depression.
What To Do
First off, seek help. Which is probably why you're here, reading this article. Most people do not even know they have this problem, and I can only imagine how terrible their lives must be.
Secondly, practice mindful thinking. Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis."
Simply put, you decide what stays on your mind, when it stays and for how long it stays.
You're the boss of you. Anytime I caught myself pondering over a mind-boggling issue, I ask myself questions such as "is this worth my time", "will the outcome of all this thinking make me a better person?" "will the answers I seek add any material value to my being?" If the answers to the above questions are no, I made conscious efforts to distract my mind with thoughts of worthwhile and positive things. This sounds hard but trust me, it's possible.
Lastly, do more. Does a situation bother your mind? Has it been weighing you down? Does it give you sleepless nights? What can you do about it asides overthinking the situation? Have you researched or reached out to someone for practical solutions? Are there practical solutions available? If yes, get to work towards redefining your reality.
If no, shift your focus.