What Does Overthinking Mean?
Overthinking is exactly what it means, thinking too much.
When you think too much, instead of acting and doing things, you are overthinking.
When you analyze, comment and repeat the same thoughts over and again, instead of acting, you are overthinking.
Merriam Webster defines this word as: To think too much about something, or to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing something, in a way that is more harmful than helpful.
This habit prevents you from taking action. It consumes your energy, disables your ability to make decisions, and puts you on a loop of thinking and thinking over and again.
This is a kind of thinking that wastes your time and energy and prevents you from acting, doing new things and making progress in your life.
It’s like tying yourself to a rope that is connected to a pole and going in circles again and again.
In this situation there is more likelihood for worry, anxiety and lack of inner peace.
On the other hand, when you don’t overthink, you become more efficient, more peaceful and more happy.
What Happens When You Overthink?
- You just can’t stop thinking about an event, a person, something that happened in the past, or on a problem. Instead of looking for a solution, taking initiative and being active, you just keep thinking and cannot get it out of your mind.
- At times, when something bad happens, you think about the worst scenarios, with thoughts like “what if?” or “why?”.
- You slip now and then into negative thinking patterns.
- You worry about past mistakes or current problems and issues, and how they might lead to negative outcomes.
- At times, you obsess about or over-analyze your day-to-day experiences and interactions with people.
- You inflate every word, thought and event beyond really and reasonable proportions, reading into it things that aren’t actually there.
If this happens often, you are what psychologists call a ruminator, or over-thinker.
Psychologists have found that over-thinking can be detrimental to performance, and lead to anxiety and depression.
How to Overcome Overthinking?
There are various ways to get rid of the habit of over thinking, like watching TV, playing video games or listening to music. For a little while, your mind is occupied with something else. These are only temporary means.
Here are a few simple things you can do to free yourself from this habit.
- Walking, swimming or exercising the body can take your mind off temporarily, from the habit overthinking. Anything that keeps your mind occupied with some activity that doesn’t allow you to overthink is okay.
- Watch yourself when you overthink and see how time and energy consuming it is, how you are behaving passively, instead of actively.
- Realize that thinking once, or a just a few times is enough. It leads you nowhere thinking over and again the same thoughts. You need to make a decision and act.
- Refuse to re-enact in your mind unpleasant events from your past.
- When you catch yourself ruminating, think about the time and energy your are wasting, and about the opportunities you are letting disappear.
As difficult as it might seem, don’t take too much time making up your mind, especially in unimportant matters.
The matter is that you might revert to overthinking – ruminating over and again.
The above tips would help you, but if you want to completely overcome this habit, you will need to go one step further.
You will need to learn to focus and calm down your mind, so that you can easily prevent it from revolving around the same thoughts over and again.
Practicing concentration exercises enables you to control your thoughts and focus your mind on what you want to think, not on restless thinking and on ruminating.
You can find here, concentration exercise that you can practice to improve your authority over your mind.
If you want to learn more about focusing the mind and about overcoming overthinking you will find the following two books most practicable and useful:
The above resources contain all the information, advice and instructions you need, so there is no need to repeat them here.