How Do I Stop Overthinking?

I’m convinced that one of the most sought out, and intelligent character traits that we can possess, is our willingness to be coachable, teachable, and humble.

iuri melo
iuri melo

Wow, you are remarkable, truly.  The fact that you are here, reading or listening to this brief podcast tells me something about you.  It tells me that your heart and mind are open.  It tells me that you're willing to invest in your perspective and psychology, and as you know... your psychology is everything!  

Your desire to feed that mind of yours with positivity, optimism, and helpful strategies, I guarantee, will be a tremendous advantage for you in school, in relationships, with present and future work, and in your future.  I'm convinced that one of the most sought out, and intelligent character traits that we can possess, is our willingness to be coachable, teachable, and humble.  Find sources in your life that promote education, that encourage peaceful and loving relationships, and that inspire you to elevate your personal life, and the life of others around you and attach yourself to these sources.

If there are sources in your life that promote hatred, prejudice, and disrespect for yourself or others around you, my humble suggestion is for you to detach yourself from such things.  For heaven's sake, be wise!

Anyways, I got a little side tracked... your awesome question today was "What Are Some Ways to Help With Overthinking?"  This is a brilliant question, and I love your courage for asking it.  Can I answer your question with another question?  

Does overthinking have to be a bad thing?

I remember having a discussion with a friend about this very thing.  He told me "I overthink too much" and I asked him "Is that a bad thing?"  He looked at me kinda funny, and said "yeah, I think about all the things that could go wrong, and all the possible ‘what if' scenarios, and in the end I just end up feeling like junk, and then I don't do anything!"  It's obvious why he wasn't loving his overthinking.

When people refer to overthinking, they're usually not talking about a positive thing.  In Psychology we call this negative overthinking ‘Catastrophizing.'  Catastrophizing is when your mind jumps to the worst possible outcome, or when you imagine or tell yourself that situations are going to end up badly for yourself.  In fact, I saw a great t-shirt yesterday that read "hold on, let me overthink this."  brilliant right?

I'm also reminded of Mark Twain (the famous author, and honestly somewhat of a philosopher) quote, "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."  Our lovely brains sometimes love to spend a lot of energy fantasizing about how things can and will go wrong.  Sometimes our brains will time travel to the past, and find all of our failures, all of our rejections, mistakes, and simply project those to the future.

In other words, we end up thinking that just because something happened in the past, that it's going to happen now, and in the future as well... but my friends, this simply isn't true.  In fact, this is called "generalizing" and it's one of your brain's favorite little tools to use, that sometimes is really useful, and sometimes not so much.

But let's get back to overthinking and catastrophizing, and what we can do to learn, and teach our brain a much better set of skills that don't lead us to feeling unmotivated, nervous, and pessimistic about the present and future.

My friend, the goal is for you to go into this world with confidence!  To know that you can grow, learn anything, and bring a ton of value to yourself and others.  I'm not just trying to hype you up, or get you to feel good, I want you to internalize this truth, so that when you catch your brain overthinking in a negative way, and filling you with doubt and discouragement.

I want you to be able to respond with intelligence, with reason, and proven strategies.   So... what do we do when our brain is overthinking in a negative way?  

1. Step one is simply to recognize that your brain is overthinking.  As easy as this sounds, this step matters.  So if you find yourself paralyzed, and spending a lot of time in your head overthinking negative outcomes, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Is this helpful?  Is this thinking helpful to me?  Is it effective? Does this thinking lead to solutions and action?  If not, you've just caught your brain overthinking.
  • And number two, does it inspire me?  Does this thinking inspire me to take correct and forward moving action?  Do I feel more motivated or discouraged?  If you feel discouraged, you're in the middle of a negative overthinking storm.

2. Step two is all about learning to shift the gears inside your head.  I sometimes use this example to help people recognize overthinking.  Imagine a car with manual shifting, or even automatic shifting, that is in neutral.  What happens when your car is in neutral and you're pressing on the gas?  Imagine yourself revving up the engine, but because the car is in neutral, the car isn't doing anything, and the wheels aren't going anywhere... it's just a lot of really loud noise.  Sometimes our brains get stuck in this place.  There's a lot of brain noise, but no correct or helpful movement.  In other words, sometimes our brains get stuck overthinking, which can create a lot of nervousness, discouragement, and fear.  This fear paralyzes us, and keeps us from moving forward.   So how do we shift gears inside your head?  I'll give you a hint... it's not by overthinking your overthinking.  In other words, Don't try to fight your thoughts, with more thoughts.  Instead...

3. And this is your Step 3 is Take Action!  Physically do something that is helpful, intelligent, good, and that matches your highest values.  I believe it was Tony Robbins that once said, and I'm paraphrasing here "the quickest way to shift the way you feel, is to physically do something!"  So once again, don't stay stuck in the couch or lying on your bed, trying to mentally tug-of-war against your brain, instead, do something that you believe is fun, good, intelligent, adventurous, cool, kind, awesome, and something that builds your social circle, your mind, and your body.

Don't... don't let your overthinking, and your fear drive the decisions in your life.  

My awesome friends.  We've all been there.  Everyone either has, or will deal with negative overthinking.  In a way, your brain is wired to find the danger... real or imagined danger, so that you can prepare and protect yourself.  But we cannot live in a state of fear... that type of life is too restrictive... it's too small.

I want you to live big.

I want you to seize the day... to live deeply and to suck out all the marrow of life.  

You have a unique set of skills, character traits, and wisdom that is meant to be shared, and meant to contribute to this world.  When you find yourself in neutral, battling your brain, spinning your wheels, doing a lot of brain revving and creating all sorts of mental noise up there that is not useful or inspiring, you know it's time to shift gears and physically do something good for your mind, body, spirit, and socially.  

It's time for you to start working on becoming your own motivational speaker.  Remember that you're the most important person you speak to everyday, so keep your language with yourself inspiring, motivational, positive, optimistic, patient, loving, and awesome.  

Don't get caught up on whether things are ‘weird' or ‘awkward' or whether people will think this or that, instead focus your mind on doing a good thing... an intelligent thing... an awesome and courageous thing... an uplifting thing... you know what I mean?

Don't stop yourself from doing awesome things because you're so afraid of what others may think... my friends it's time to graduate from that kind of thinking, and instead, ask yourself better questions like:

What would be a fun thing to do?

What would be a smart thing to do here?

What is something cool that I could do right now?

What is the kind thing to do?

What can I do that matches what I believe, and my best values?

Anyways, you get the idea, small steps, small actions, small shifts in your thinking, can lead to awesome outcomes.

Well, let's go to work, and Shift!!

Have an awesome day!