You may want to learn how to stop overthinking if you often find yourself rehashing past conversations, dwelling on your choices, or getting trapped in a never-ending tunnel of “What if…?” scenarios. When you get stuck in a destructive cycle of worry or rumination, your mind has a tendency to turn against you. It starts to run rampant like a wild horse and you don’t know how to stop.
While everyone overthinks situations every once in a while, some people are assaulted by their overactive minds so often and with such intensity that they’re left crippled and unable to act. They overthink the problem until it feels much bigger than it actually is, drowning themselves in destructive thoughts until they feel completely hopeless.
Overthinking can be exhausting, but fortunately, there are tried and tested ways to get it completely under control.
In this article you will learn:
Let's dive in by finding out why overthinking can be dangerous.
Overthinking, simply speaking, is when you uncontrollably think about something too much or for too long.
According to a study from the University of Michigan, 73% of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink, as do 52% of 45 to 55-year-olds.
Even though overthinking may not seem like something harmful, it can have some serious psychological effects if it becomes a habit. Studies show that excess rumination and worry takes a toll on your mental and physical health by increasing your stress levels and causing anxiety.
Overthinking can be broken down into two different types—ruminating about the past and worrying about the future.
Ruminating is all about continual dwelling on some negative aspects of the past, wishing one could change it.
The problem with ruminating is that it’s all about over-focusing on your past, which is something that’s ultimately outside of your control.
Worrying, on the other hand, is future-focused.
It includes coming up with hypothetical worst-case scenarios, getting consumed by them, and having emotional reactions as if they were true.
Just like rumination, you overemphasize future situations that are outside of your control.
Overthinking can affect your life in multiple ways. Explore some of the symptoms listed below and see which ones you can relate to:
Many people ask themselves, “Why do I overthink?” or, “Is overthinking a mental disorder?” The truth is, there are many possible explanations as to why you may find yourself overthinking things. It is important to understand these reasons in order to learn how to stop overthinking.
Here are the five most common reasons why overthinking occurs:
Did you grow up in an environment where only success was rewarded, and failure was severely punished?
You may have learned to fear making mistakes as a child. Today, this tendency could have translated into constant analyzing, second-guessing your decisions, and ruminating over your past actions.
Do the people you surround yourself with display toxic and overly critical behavior? Do you feel that these people place undue expectations on you?
If your answer is “Yes,” you are likely to be run by the constant tension and anxiety to satisfy your peer’s expectations.
Marisa Peer, Britain’s #1 voted therapist, says, “The role of control is that the only thing you can control is your thoughts.”
However, most people have a tendency to want to control events that are outside of their circle of influence.
They fret about everything from natural disasters to deadly diseases. Their worries keep them occupied, but ultimately, they waste their time and energy because worrying doesn't do any good.
Do you attach your own sense of worth to how other people perceive you? If “Yes,” you may become increasingly preoccupied and worried about how you come across.
This could make you second guess yourself and over analyze every action you take.
“How are these pants going to make me look?”
“What would my colleagues think if I spoke out?”
“Are those people gossiping about me?”
If your mind is run by thoughts of this kind, you are depleting yourself of your own power by letting others dictate how you feel about yourself.
If the cycle of worry and rumination is repeated enough times, it eventually forms into a habit. The more you do it, the harder it becomes for you to stop.
Sometimes people confuse overthinking with actual problem-solving.
As you might have noticed, however, worrying and rumination are not solving any actual problems. Rather it gets you stuck in a mental loop that prevents any tangible solutions from transpiring.
Overthinking is not something you have to live with for the rest of your life.
It is simply a mental habit, and it can be broken.
Follow these five strategies to learn how to stop overthinking. Learn to respond to your overactive mind in a way that promotes clear, decisive, and confident action.
One of the biggest problems with overthinking is that it sucks us into our thoughts and wreaks havoc on our emotions without our permission.
In fact, this habit can become so pervasive that it can hijack your mind without you even noticing. That’s why the first step in overcoming overthinking is practicing mindfulness.
To do this, start getting into the habit of paying attention to the content of your thoughts on a regular basis.
When you notice yourself replaying negative events from the past or over analyzing what might happen in the future, don’t judge yourself.
Instead, take a moment to simply notice and acknowledge that this is what you are doing in that moment.
Try it now:
Doing this exercise for one to two minutes every time you find yourself overthinking will help you build awareness over your mind and create space between you and your thoughts.
Becoming aware of your mind rather than identifying with the content thoughts is an absolutely crucial first step if you want to learn how to stop overthinking.
Now that you have gained awareness of your thoughts, and stopped identifying with them, you are in a position to question their validity. This is an important step in the process of learning how to stop overthinking.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
By asking yourself the right questions, you can guide your overactive mind towards solution-oriented action, rather than being stuck in the endless cycle of overthinking.
When you fall into the trap of overthinking, you narrow your perspective down to focus on a few details and lose touch with the big picture of things.
Over the last thirty years, working with clients from royalty and rockstars to CEOs and Olympic athletes, Marisa Peer concluded that, “Whatever you focus on, you get more of.”
When you have all of your mental energy invested in trying to solve hypothetical problems or analyze past mistakes, that is what you get more of: problems and mistakes.
Overthinking obscures your view of what’s actually important.
When you are narrow visioned you lack the ability to see what needs to get done in the present moment.
To regain perspective, allow yourself to step away from the problem and focus on something else for a period of time.
When you get back to the issue that was draining all of your mental energy, you will approach it with a fresh perspective that is not tainted by worry or rumination.
Often we overthinking because we are trying to attain a goal or resolve some kind of problem.
Some people believe that sifting through the same thoughts repeatedly may grant them access to additional insights, thereby deeming it a productive activity.
However, here is a sobering thought:
If you cut the time you spend overthinking in half and spent that time acting on what you are obsessively thinking about, how much further ahead do you think you’d be?
When all you do is spend time inside of your head trying to think out the solution, you discount the most important element: taking action.
Thinking without doing makes you stuck in your own mental feedback loops. To make those thoughts productive, infuse them with an element of action-taking and real-world feedback.
You may be thinking to yourself, “OK, wait, hold on for a minute! If I don’t give it proper consideration and time thinking through different scenarios, I might make mistakes.”
Yes, that’s true. Nonetheless, even when you are making mistakes, along the way, you will learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to do it better next time around.
Sometimes, decisive action is the best cure for an overactive mind.
Even though it may sometimes feel like no one cares, remember that you are not alone.
Asking for help when you are trying to learn how to stop overthinking allows you to surround yourself with people who can make you feel good and further facilitate your development. They can bring hope when you're feeling hopeless and help you deal with challenging situations, which will improve your resilience.
Better yet, if the people you are asking for help from are experts in the exact issue you are dealing with, you just found a shortcut to resolving it.
Marisa Peer’s revolutionary Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®) is making waves in the personal growth industry by providing astonishing results in as little as one to three sessions.
Book a free consultation with one of our therapists now. The RTT® Find a Specialist Therapist service helps you connect with a specialist who was trained by Marisa Peer.
Our experts have proven expertise, phenomenal skills, and outstanding levels of client satisfaction. They will guide you on your path towards mastering the power of your mind so you can become free from overthinking forever.
All it takes is one life-changing session that helps you end all of your problems with overthinking, by addressing the root cause of your problems and fixing them once and for all.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. This is how you bring your best self forward, ready to conquer life challenges faster than if you were to do it alone.
Overthinking is a symptom of an over-active and anxious brain, which could be improved by investing in the development of your self-esteem and confidence. If you can build on your confidence, you can calm your mind and relieve your anxious thoughts, which means you will worry less, and relax more.
It may be daunting thinking about the need to improve your confidence without direction or help from others. That's why Marisa Peer has designed her 21-Day Unstoppable Confidence Challenge for people just like you.
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World-Class Therapist Marisa Peer is a world renowned speaker, Rapid Transformational Therapy trainer and best-selling author. She is the creator of RTT, the new method that is transforming the face of therapy.Find out More