Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.~Randy Armstrong
Overthinking is spreading like a plague in today’s world and since you are here, I am guessing that you have already been infected, trying to find out ways to stop it.
For most people, it takes no more than just one negative thought to end up buried under an avalanche of overthinking.
Yes! It often takes just one small negative thought.
Then a second one joins the first and then a third one joins them both…
Overthinking could be defined as a chain of thoughts and images, created by our own mind, that feel effectively negative and relatively uncontrollable, unstoppable, and unchangeable.
According to studies, constant overthinking exponentially increases our stress levels and deteriorates our overall health, clouds our judgment, impairs our cognitive functions and kills our creativity among other things.
It might even cause chronic mental issues such as depression if not given the right attention.
I know how detrimental overthinking can be.
Fortunately, it does not have to be a permanent part of our existence and as a former sufferer, I am the proof of that statement.
However, let me tell you that overcoming it is no piece of cake.
If you want to find out how to stop overthinking so much, you need to discover the techniques which are effective for you, start consciously practicing them, and keep practicing them until they have become such an integral part of yourself that you won’t have to practice them anymore.
In here, I am about to share with you some of the tips, tricks, techniques, and perspectives that I had to cultivate until they made my overthinking habit disappear once and for all.
Let’s take a closer look.
1 – Go With Uncertainty
Our minds perceive uncertainty as volatility, randomness, and danger, and that’s why as human being we hate it.
However, overthinking is not caused by uncertainty itself but by our very own need to eliminate it from our future.
The more we try to beat uncertainty the higher the degree of overthinking triggered.
What overthinkers fail to understand is that no matter how much you want to be certain about your future, no matter how perfectly you proactively plan your every move, and no matter how badly you want to achieve or avoid specific outcomes, uncertainty will always be there…
You can never be certain about how your life is going to unfold and truth be told that’s the beauty of it.
Without uncertainty, we would be living very boring lives.
Yes! Life is uncertain.
It is impossible to know the future, thus certainty can never be achieved.
No amount of overthinking can ever positively influence your future and it most definitely cannot eliminate uncertainty.
All your efforts spent trying to strategically analyze your moves, and predict all the possible outcomes of each and every move of yours are going to waste as you are looking to find answers to questions which are literally impossible to answer.
Instead of relentlessly wasting your energy in overthinking about your future, try to keep an open mind and be flexible and you will see how life will start favoring you.
Those people who can realize that uncertainty is the only certainty, as well as accept this fact, are on their way to true peace of mind.
As Lao Tzu beautifully states in the Tao Te Ching:
The flexible are preserved unbroken.
2 – Let Go of the Illusion of Time
Shut off the past! Let it bury its dead… Shut out the yesterdays which have lighted fools the way to dusty death. … The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter.~How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
Everybody has their baggage.
Every person has experienced painful situations in the past, which have left deep and unhealed scars on their hearts and minds.
However, the past is gone; it is history.
Overthinking about our past, wishing things had taken place differently, and regretting, can never alter those situations that have already happened.
Dwelling in the past has literally nothing to offer us but mental exhaustion and pain.
The future has yet to come. Everything that you think might go wrong is just a figment of your imagination that will most likely never happen anyway.
Humans have an awareness of the future and the past, and as humans, we tend to fixate on them as we are not so good at “living in the moment”.
All other animals live in the “eternal now”.
This is the reason why humans, unlike say, cats, do overthink.
It is literally impossible to overthink while dwelling in the moment.
Become aware that the now is the only time there really is… The past was a now, and the future will be a now, thus all you have is now…
Ultimately, the past and the future are concepts created by the human mind.
We never actually experience either because our minds and bodies are always in the present.
Even your thoughts about the past and future are taking place in the right now.
The past and the future only exist in thought, whereas the present exists beyond thought.
There are dozens of ways to get rid of overthinking by staying present, such as practicing mindfulness, making art, doing yoga, etc, but this will be a topic discussed in greater detail on a forthcoming post, thus make sure you SUBSCRIBE to stay tuned.
3 – Mindfulness Beats Overthinking
A few years back I used to be an overthinker; I used to worry a lot… I used to get stressed over nothing and everything and I used to think that there is no way out.
However, deciding to start practicing mindfulness was one of the most important turning points in my life.
Mindfulness will help you bring your attention to whatever is happening at the present moment and just accept it as it is, disregarding your urge to resist it or change it.
Being mindful is one of the best ways to stop overthinking everything for the following 2 reasons:
- It takes our attention away from past and future and brings it back to the present moment.
As stated earlier, overthinking cannot exist while our attention is at the present moment. Think about it… Have you ever overthought about what is happening right now?
- It helps us stop resisting our thoughts and start accepting them as they are.
Resisting our thoughts is like throwing more wood into a fire. The more we are resisting our thoughts, the more we feed them with our attention, the stronger those thoughts get, and the harder it becomes for us to stop them.
Acceptance is what makes our negative thoughts die of starvation.
When I first started practicing mindfulness, almost 3 years ago, I didn’t know that it could change my life as much as it has.
My initial goal was to reduce my stress and overthinking just a tad in order for them to become bearable to me.
Right now, 3 years later, I have come so much further than I could possibly imagine… I made stress and overthinking completely disappear once and for all.
Let me tell you that it’s impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you’re mindful of the present moment.
However, don’t expect instant results… Just like any other skill, mindfulness takes practice.
To reap its benefits will take time and commitment but over time, you will realize that making the decision to start practicing it was one of the best decisions of your life.
At least, that is how I feel.
There exist a lot of helpful guides online that can teach you how to practice mindfulness, however, make sure to SUBSCRIBE in order to stay tuned for my very own guide to practicing mindfulness.
4 – Get Your Body Moving
Physical exercise is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective ways to stop overthinking.
The mental benefits of physical exercise are well-established. During physical exercise, endorphins are released into the body. Endorphins act as natural painkillers, stress-fighters, and mood-boosters and produce feelings of happiness and euphoria.
Anxiety And Depressions Association of America supports that even five minutes of aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-confidence.
To utterly obliterate overthinking you could try and combine physical exercise with mindfulness.
Start looking for practices which have slow and isometric movements such as yoga, calisthenics, and pilates in order to be easier for you to focus on your breath as well as the movements of your muscles, at least in the beginning.
Such practices are among the best to take your attention away from your past and future worries and ground it to the restfulness of the present moment.
Moreover, since mind and body are interconnected and always working in harmony, taking care of both of them at the same time feels really amazing.
Keeping our body strong and healthy, promotes our mind’s well-being, and vice versa.
As the ancient Greeks supported; “Sound body, sound mind”.
5 – Recognize That Overthinking is Utterly Useless
One of our greatest traits as human beings is our ability to create mental images of our future.
However, we have been misusing this trait of ours by continuously thinking ahead, over-analyzing options, situations and possible outcomes in order to avoid making mistakes and getting hurt.
While planning ahead can be extremely useful, we have to admit that life is unpredictable… We can never know every single outcome of every single decision we are about to make.
We will make mistakes and we will get hurt either we want it or not.
The funny thing is that overthinking is one of the least productive states of mind and can positively affect our future in no single way…
In fact, it might even make things worse by creating some kind of self-sabotage on yourself since this kind of excessive mental activity drains 95%-100% of your mental energy and resources, such as your willpower, your focus, your clarity, your perseverance, your motivation, etc.
Moreover, about 85% of the things you are overthinking about will never happen anyway, and those that do happen, are actually handled by us at least 85% better than we have previously imagined.
As Winston Churchill awesomely stated:
I had a lot of trouble in my life, most of which has never truly happened.
From whatever angle you look at overthinking, it really serves no purpose whatsoever other than making our life troublesome and miserable.
6 -Leverage Your Addiction
Researchers believe that overthinking is an addiction.
From a physiological point of view, the hormones produced during overthinking, give the body and mind a rush of energy.
This rush of energy is like a narcotic and people become very addicted to those hormones causing it.
Since those stress hormones are addictive and you can turn them on just by thought alone, then you could become addicted to your own thoughts.
From a psychological point of view, overthinking actually induces a sense of security.
Those who are experiencing it, have somehow convinced themselves that thinking too much about everything makes them smarter and better at solving their problems.
Whatever the case, overthinking is indeed addictive.
Since an addiction is an established mental habit, it is extremely hard to be dropped, so instead of putting your energy and effort towards breaking the habit of overthinking, try to use it to your advantage.
Here is how you will do it:
When you become aware that you are overthinking about what could go wrong in a future situation, start overthinking about all the cool stuff that is going to happen if all would go right.
For the sake of the argument, let’s say that you are overthinking about an impending presentation at your work.
Naturally, your mind is going to be like:
- Will I be able to pull this off?
- If this does not go well I might get fired…
- I won’t have enough money to support my family…
- My kids will hate me…
- My wife will leave me…
- I am going to be homeless, sad, and alone…
- I will die from a meteor hit…
When you become aware of your negative overthinking, immediately tilt the scale and start overthinking about the awesome situations that are going to unfold if everything goes perfectly.
- I am the best person to pull this presentation off.
- I will dazzle everyone in the room with my eloquence!
- I might even get a promotion.
- My kids will look up to me and my wife will be so proud.
- We will all live together a long, happy, abundant life!
- We are going to hide in our bomb shelter during meteor showers.
This practice is very powerful but what you’ll read right below is even better.
7 – Proactively Cultivate Optimism and Positivity
Instead of waiting for your overthinking to kick in for you to make attempts to change it, as described right above, you could prevent it from rising in the first place through the practice of auto-suggestion.
As they say, the best cure for an illness is its prevention.
By proactively putting only positive things (words, messages, conversations, stories, pictures, etc.) into your mind, you will be able to see that your overthinking slowly transforms itself to optimism.
Practicing auto-suggestion will lead your mind to states of peace or down into the valley of stress and overthinking according to your degree of understanding and application of it, so let me explain how to practice properly and make the most of this practice.
- Take out a piece of paper and write down just one aspect of your life that you are constantly or currently overthinking about… Maybe it’s your career, relationship status, health, finances, etc…
- Let’s say that you chose “Career”, so write down Career on the mid-top of the paper.
- Below the word Career, draw a vertical line in order to make 2 columns.
- Start writing down all the negative thoughts that pop into your head regarding your career, on the left column(this should be very easy).
- On the right column write all the positive thoughts that come to mind(this is going to be harder).
- If only a few or no positive thoughts come to mind regarding your career, then create some yourself. You can and should use the exact opposite thoughts of your negative ones as well.
- It doesn’t matter if the positive thoughts that you come up with are real or not. Just write down what you would like to be thinking about. The negative thoughts that you already have are not real either but you still believe them because you have repeated them so many times inside your head.
- Now, take a marker and make a huge X over the negative thoughts that you have written down, and start reading with excitement the positive ones, every morning just when you wake up for about two weeks.
- After those two weeks, go back to step 1 and start all over again.
- Make sure that you practice auto-suggestion to improve just one aspect of your life at a time and for at least 2 months per aspect.
- You will notice that the more you practice auto-suggestion on a specific aspect of your life the easier it becomes for you to think positive thoughts about it and the less negative thoughts you will be experiencing, until, in time, they disappear completely.
Through the principle of auto-suggestion, any thought that you consistently plant into your mind will make roots there and eventually blossom and become a part of your reality.
8 – Write Down Your Overthinking
There are some people, who while overthinking, are talking to themselves.
Are you one of those people?
Don’t be ashamed, safe space here!
I actually do it all the time and it kinda helps organize my thoughts better.
However, do you know what feels even better?
Writing your thoughts down!
A few months ago, I read an article which supported that writing down all the crap inside your head could help you temporarily subdue anxiety, overthinking, and even depression.
At that time, my best friend was going through some rough situations and after a number of failed attempts to help him get over it, I suggested that he should sit for half an hour by himself and write down everything that pops into his head and then attempt to go to sleep.
We talked the next afternoon and I could see that he was still kind of depressed but I actually felt that he was calmer, so I dared to ask; “How are you mate?”.
He told me that the night before he was furiously writing random stuff for about one hour until his head felt like it had been emptied of almost all his thoughts and then he went straight to sleep.
If you are one of those people who tend to start overthinking the moment they lay down for sleep, this practice might be just what you need in order for you not to lose sleep again so make sure that you always have some blank papers available on your nightstand.
Keeping an overthinking journal might be a good idea as well.
This practice might help relieve your overthinking temporarily but it does not seem like a permanent solution and almost anything you do to try to relieve your overthinking in the short-term, guarantees that your overthinking
will stick around, so make sure that you don’t put all your hopes in this specific practice alone.
9 – Boost Your Self-Confidence
Self-confident people almost never overthink and why should they?
If you really believe in yourself and your capabilities there can be no room for overthinking in your mind.
Self-confident people let no failure define them, they are not afraid to move towards the unknown and take risks because they know that whatever comes their way they have the tools and resources to face.
If you are an overthinker, increasing your self-confidence should be a priority for you.
You can find a beautiful self-confidence guide right here!
10 – Find and Follow Your Passion(s)
Ask yourself this:
“What would be that activity, which could make me forget about the world around me, make four hours feel like four minutes, and make me feel the most alive?”.
For some, this activity might be cycling, for others, working out, walking into nature, cooking, creating art, handcrafting, writing, singing, reading books, meditating, dancing, swimming, hunting, gardening, etc…
It is important to find something that excites you, expresses you, and at the same time makes you eager to do it.
This should be something that engages your mind, your body, or both of them at the same time.
If you can think of something right now great!
Whatever it is, just start doing it right away!
No excuses and no overthinking about it…
If you aren’t yet sure, start doing some online and offline research and heart-storming, and start experimenting with activities until you settle somewhere.
If you really and honestly want to be in tune with who you are, you will most certainly find the way and trust me that when you find it, you will be the happiest and most peaceful you have ever been.
WARNING! Being fully in tune with who you are, causes a serious, life-enhancing condition called “happiness”! There is simply no happier feeling in the world than looking around at everything and everyone that’s in your life and saying, “Yes, this is Me.”~Manifestation Miracle
11 – Discover Your Purpose and Go After It
Working towards a purpose might be one of the best ways to stop being an overthinker in the long-term.
Your purpose is the carrot in front of you and the stick behind you…
A purpose of yours might be something small such as teaching a skill of yours to other people or something bigger such as cultivating the skills necessary for a new career path or even starting your very own business.
At that point, many people will say:
“I don’t have time to keep myself busy with a purpose…”
I am calling bullshit to those statements…
Do you want to know one of the main reasons you are overthinking everything?
It’s because you have the time to do so.
Do you have time to watch television?
Do you have time to keep scrolling up and down your Facebook news feed page?
Well, there you go!
Borrow some or maybe all the time from such mind-numbing and pointless activities and invest it towards achieving something worthwhile.
If you don’t know what your purpose is or how to find it, start looking at your hobbies and passions.
For example, my passion is to alter my mindset in ways that will help me become the best version of myself and my purpose is to share with other people how to alter their mindset towards becoming their best version through this blog.
While being after your purpose, you will rarely have any time left to overthink about anything and your mind will definitely become more restful while knowing that it has been directed towards worthy and fruitful goals rather than wasted on aimless thinking…
12 – Detach Yourself From Every Outcome
Being attached to an outcome means that you are giving way too many fucks about how things are going to unfold, and giving too many fucks always results in overthinking.
You tend to overthink because you fear failure; you fear that you won’t be able to achieve the desired outcome.
But if you stop giving a fuck about the outcome and keep working just for the sake of working and not for the sake of earning something out of this working, that fear dissipates as fast as it came into being.
The problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less.~The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
While working like this, every desired outcome will manifest way faster and be much more worthwhile than expected.
13 – Visualize Your Peace of Mind
It is believed that overthinkers already have a highly active imagination.
Overthinking happens as a result of vividly visualizing negative things about yourself, your life, your surroundings, situations, experiences, etc, that are most likely inaccurate.
However, what we are after by practicing visualization is to consciously replace the negative images that we are unconsciously creating with positive ones…
Mentally picturing yourself already being who you want to become and already having achieved what you want to achieve, can induce immense feelings of gratitude and serenity.
Practice visualization daily until the ideal images that you are mentally creating become dominant inside your mind.
The dominant images inhabiting your mind will gradually transform themselves into your actual physical reality.
Therefore, concentrate your thoughts for at least ten minutes daily, upon the task of visualizing of the person you intend to become, thereby creating in your mind a clear mental picture of that person.
The more detailed your vision who you want to become, the easier it will be to actually become this person.
Take a look at The Best Visualization Techniques… A Step-by-Step Guide + Tips to find out more about the amazingly helpful practice of visualization!
14 – Stop Chasing Perfection
Only a few habits can induce overthinking so easily as going after perfection.
I am telling you this first hand, as I am kind of a perfectionist myself.
When you are after perfection, you tend to think so hard about how you will make everything unfold as perfectly as possible, but let me tell you that you are up for disappointment 99% of the time…
If after your first few failed attempts at making everything perfect you still are unable to realize that perfection is not something achievable, your overthinking will keep growing.
The more you overthink, the less motivated you become; taking action feels harder and harder until you eventually become so paralyzed with fear and frustration of not living up to your ridiculously perfect standards that you will most likely stop taking action altogether.
No action equals no desirable results, and no desirable results will definitely equal to even higher amounts of overthinking.
The solution to this is simple…
The next time you start thinking “This needs to be absolutely perfect”, just remind yourself, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”
Perfection is simply unattainable for any of us. Let it go. You’re never going to be perfect because perfection does not exist; it is merely an illusion.
15 – Stop Trying to Think 10 Steps Ahead
A few years back, I was with a friend of mine out for dinner.
She had some big plans for leaving her job to join doctors without borders.
We were talking and she was about to submit the required paperwork the next day.
Then suddenly, she started panicking.
I mean, yeah, who wouldn’t panic if they were about to change their life so drastically and dramatically, going from working a boring 9-5 job to helping people in third-world countries and war zones?
She started saying “I have to get up so early tomorrow to go and submit the paperwork, then I have to completely pack my entire apartment and travel to 2-3 foreign countries for an unknown amount of time to be trained, then I will come back here having no house, then wait for God knows how many months to find out IF they will accept me into the program, etc etc…”
I stopped her and I asked, “Are you sure that this something you really want to do?”
She said “YES!”
“Okay then”, I said, “Just stop thinking about everything beyond your next step! Your next step is all that you should think about, nothing beyond that!”
“So go on and submit your paperwork tomorrow morning which is your next step and then allow yourself to only think about the next step which is packing up your stuff and leaving your apartment.”
“Just take it one step at a time.”
16 – Is It Something You Can Change?
The next time you are overthinking ask yourself the following question:
“Is it something I can change?”
If the answer is yes, then start doing something to change it don’t just sit there merely worrying about it. Fight your worry with taking action.
Dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful in any way but working towards solving them probably is.
If the answer is no, then you are wasting your mental energy for nothing.
For example, overthinking about the bad weather that might ruin the camping trip that you have planned one month from now isn’t going to solve anything whatsoever.
If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.
The End of the Road
Well, here you go!
The 16 best techniques that I could give you on how to get rid of your overthinking once and for all.
Start applying at least 2 of them right now and come back after 1 month to let us know about your transformation.
Don’t expect immediate results… It took me nearly 2 years of immense practicing most of those tips laid above to completely make my overthinking disappear.
Start right now and you will never regret it.
Moreover, before you leave, make sure that you SUBSCRIBE to stay tuned for new articles, article updates, and brand new transformational courses.
To your peace of mind!