Overthinking is to subject one’s mind to a sea of thoughts that overflow and overwhelm it. Can we refrain from thinking too much and if so, what would be the benefit?
You are at home doing your business, you are in a car or public transport, you do your shopping, you go to your appointments, you do your daily or weekly activities. But all this time, your mind always seems to be in the same place, frozen in a moment, a situation, an emotion that pervades it obsessively. You try tirelessly to find a solution to a problem, or you blame yourself for a thing of the past, which is trivial but which you have transformed into a mountain, or you continually fear for the future and constantly think about the different possibilities in order to anticipate all scenarios. Whatever the origin of this mental torment is, you have been rehashing these thoughts for far too long, and it affects you. You overthink.
If you can picture yourself in this scenario, you may be prone to overthinking and there is a good chance that you are a woman, since the female gender is more affected by this condition. But whether you are a woman or a man, it is certain that you need mental relief, for this burden weighs on you.
How does overthinking manifest itself?
To determine precisely if you are an overthinker, there are a number of clues to look for. To identify it, you must observe the following signs:
Replaying thoughts in your brain over and over again
Being invaded by these thoughts to the point that they become obsessive
Rehashing these same thoughts over a long period of time
Having an excessive mental and emotional activity
Exaggerate the situation causing the thoughts (this is a hassle rather than a real problem)
Worrying about the future on one hand, and blaming oneself or being negative about the past on the other hand
Experiencing negative emotions (like doubt, anxiety, fear, blame, pessimism)
Experiencing a mental block: trying to find a solution to a problem, but not succeeding
Ruminate to the point of slowly sinking into depression
In short, as an overthinker you ruminate too much which leads you to harm yourself. You constantly brood over the past, you are concerned about the future, you question yourself too much, you amplify a problem, you sink into negativity.
“The future torments us, the past holds us back, that’s why the present escapes us.”
What are these obsessive and negative thoughts that lead to excessive thinking and clutter the mind?
When we overthink, the mind is monopolized by an excess of unconstructive thoughts. We constantly rehash:
A problem: I should do this..., no it won’t work because of this;... unless I decide this..., but it may well result in this;... yes, but there may be this... or I should rather consider this
A situation: I should have said this or done that, if only I had known
Feelings: I am discouraged, tired, angry, frustrated, sad and I want to cry, I regret
Negative ideas: I blame myself for making that mistake, why it happened, everyone probably thinks this of me now
There are deeper overthinking situations.They are due to an emotional shock resulting from a traumatic situation, but these cases are not mentioned in this article.
Why deal with this?
All of the above is explicit enough to identify the disadvantages of overthinking and its impact on quality of life. Go back to the scenario presented at the beginning and go through the scene again as you see yourself acting with your abilities altered by the unwanted elements listed below. Then, using the benefits of the “Preferred end state” column, imagine for a moment what that same life could be like if you no longer felt the weight of overthinking.
How can we reduce this mental and emotional turmoil?
You probably won't be able to completely eliminate overthinking from your live, but it can be greatly mitigated to live better. Here are some ways to relief your mind from this mental overactivity and foster an inner calm:
Welcome what is happening to you with equanimity
Show yourself kindness and indulgence
Find something which motivates you, which gives you the urge and strength to overcome overthinking
Live in the moment and practice mindfulness
Stop worrying about past situations that you can’t change. Let it go
Reframe your thoughts. This problem that you are obsessed with may not be a problem, or it is smaller than you think
Meditate, do some yoga, try sophrology
Distance yourself from the problem and come back to it later
Keep your mind busy by doing an activity which requires concentration
Identify moments of overthinking and stop them.
Plan some time daily (a few minutes) to think about the problem you are trying to solve and don’t come back to it for the rest of the day
Mental rumination is an unfortunate propensity to think far beyond what is normally required.Let us not allow ourselves to be drowned by this flood of thoughts. Let us open the locks to resurface and thus become again master of our mind. Let us not allow ourselves to be tempted by passivity by finding excuses justifying our sloppiness. Let us go to the reconquest of our mental peace. Let’s give ourselves a chance to make a difference. We are the first beneficiaries.
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(Ma qualité de vie means My quality of life in French.)
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