“Should I invite that woman out? She is my colleague… what if things don’t work out? It will be awkward to go to work every day… But, what if things do work out? What if this is just a fling? Can I make the attraction go away? Oh, I can’t think about this anymore… I’ll decide tomorrow.” And tomorrow, you’ll go through every possible scenario over and over again.
That’s called overthinking. Your mind works in circular patterns and it brings you in an impossible situation: you’re constantly worried and you can’t make decisions promptly. Did you recognize yourself in that description? If that’s the case, then it’s time to start unloading your mind.
People overthink for various reasons:
- We all have them, and the solutions are not easy.
- Awareness of the consequences. Each action leads to a reaction. You have several options, and you know the outcome will depend upon the decision you make. That’s why it’s so hard to make choices.
- Unsolved questions. You don’t know why bad things happen to you. You keep looking for the reasons in your own behavior and past actions.
- Other people’s behavior. You don’t get it. You are always trying to please the people you like, but they still find ways to betray you. This pushes you into the vicious circle of overthinking.
- It can be associated to work or life in general. You always have expectations to meet and tasks to complete.
From all these reasons that lead to overthinking, you may assume it’s a natural state of mind. It’s not! Overthinking is the opposite of efficient decision making. As Robert Herjavec, the author of The Will to Win: Leading, Completing, Succeeding said, “thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
Exactly! When you think too much, you justify procrastination and you prevent yourself from taking action. Now do you understand why it’s important to change that habit?
Practical Tips: How to Stop Overthinking
The moment you overcome the habit of overthinking, you’ll realize that life is much more enjoyable when you know how to keep your brain healthy and sharp. Here are 12 methods that help you practice:
1. Understand: Thinking Must Lead to Actions
This is a simple realization that many men fail to come down to. Thinking is a natural process that has a purpose: taking actions. The first and most important thing for you to do is to start doing something about the problems that push you into this mind pattern.
If you are constantly wondering what you’re supposed to do and you cannot choose between all scenarios circling in your head, then you’ve already considered all options. Now, you must translate all that thinking into actions. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary. You have no other choice but to make a choice! That sounds like a paradox, but it’s one of the most important productivity mind hacks to learn.
2. Give Yourself a Deadline
Deadlines are stressful, aren’t they? However, they also have a positive side: they compress the process of overthinking into a shorter period of time. Are you still waiting for the perfect moment to ask that woman out? Give yourself a deadline: “I’ll ask her tomorrow and that’s it.”
Have you been wondering whether or not to look for a new job? If you don’t like the current position, then you have to make a change. It’s the perfect moment for a deadline: “I’ll research the market this week, I’ll prepare a resume by Monday and I’ll start applying for jobs from Monday on.”
3. Find Your Center
It sounds like something you would hear in yoga class, doesn’t it? Don’t worry; we’re not here to teach you a yoga lesson. However, we will emphasize the need for focus. If you don’t like meditation, then a boxing session will do.
The important thing is to find an energy outlet that will release your mind from tension, so you’ll start thinking more clearly.
4. Speak Up
Do you have a friend you can trust? Can your partner help you make a decision? What’s the first person you go to when you face trouble? Well, talk to that person. You can both brainstorm and draw some conclusions.
It’s always good to see how an unbiased party understands your problem. When you get a neutral opinion that’s not driven by passion or habitual mind patterns, you’ll be much closer to the decision.
5. If Your Mind Is Cloudy, Stop Thinking!
When you think too much, your mind gets tired. It’s just like a muscle that gets overworked and needs some regenerating before you can safely use it again. When you notice that your mind is not sharp and clear, stop straining it already!
Change the “activity” of overthinking with something that relaxes you. Read, exercise, cook, get out, watch an episode of Suits, or do anything else that shifts your mind from negative to positive thinking.
6. Get Physical!
Of course we’re talking about exercise! When you get focused on effective workouts, you don’t have much time or energy to devote to overthinking. We realize that you don’t have the will to get out of that chair when you’re dealing with serious problems. However, you need to make an effort. As soon as you start working out, the tension will go away.
7. Open Up to Opportunities
Opportunities lead to decisions, and decisions lead to overthinking. Does that mean you should lock yourself inside your own little world? Should you just turn to news, social media, and magazines? Of course not!
Getting yourself distracted from the real world is the worst solution to the problem, since it leads to subconscious stress buildup. Instead of dealing with your problems, you are suppressing them.
Stop that excessive distraction from the outer world and put yourself out there. You’ll notice that the more opportunities you run into and the more choices you make, the easier the process of decision making will be. It’s all about the practice.
8. Skepticism? Okay. Too Much Skepticism? Not Okay!
A healthy dose of doubt is always beneficial. You can’t believe everything you hear, right? However, too much skepticism drives you to overthinking. If you don’t believe that a woman is as great as she appears to be on first impression and you keep waiting to see the flaws you know she has, you won’t enjoy the relationship.
Mind your inner filters. If you notice you doubt everything and everyone, there’s a problem. It’s hard to get rid of this habit, but you have to make an effort: don’t let it take over your life.
9. Forgiving Is Cool. Learn How to Do It!
You need to stop blaming people for your own misfortunes. If someone made a mistake, you should try to understand where it came from. Instead of being mad for days or weeks, you need to forgive and carry on with your life.
That attitude will make you a much cooler man, but it will also prevent you from overthinking.
10. Breathe In. Feel Your Presence!
Ooops, here’s another yoga-style tip: learn how to live in the present. Thinking about the choices you’ve made won’t make the mistakes go away. Thinking about all reactions that would come from potential actions won’t lead you to a stress-free future.
Analyzing your past is good only if it helps you make a decision. If you keep analyzing it, you’re doing it all wrong. Guess when thinking about the future is okay! You’re right: only when it helps you make a decision. If it drives you in a circle with no end, you need to get back to the present moment.
Be realistic: you can’t live in the past, and you can’t plan the future with 100% accuracy. Don’t miss the present by being stuck in such thoughts.
11. Talk Less = Think Less
People who talk less look like they think too much before saying something. Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re an overthinker, you should try limiting that habit through your speech. Try to talk less and always get straight to the point.
Your mind will follow, and you’ll slowly train it to do the same thing: cut the pointless talk both outside and inside.
12. Keep a Journal
“What? A journal? What kind of man keeps a journal?” Wait; what’s with all that judgment? What’s not manly about keeping a journal? In fact, journaling is a very effective method for clearing your thoughts.
Try this: whenever you are too deep into your thoughts, write them down. You’ll notice that this practice will increase your thinking capacity. You will give shape to your thoughts and you’ll write them down in clear sentences. Journaling is great because it helps you keep track of your transformation.
When you read through your writings, you’ll realize you’re no longer the same man who struggled with the same thoughts over and over again. You’ve grown.
Look: you need to learn how to be less addictive to thinking. Your mind is a beautiful thing, but it can become your greatest enemy when it gets overactive. Do your best to make the thinking process as productive and effective as possible. Pointless self-talk doesn’t do you any good. Try the methods listed above and tell us what you think (yup, pun intended).