Overthinking Synonyms: brood, consider, deliberate, despond, dwell upon, fret, gloom, grieve, lament, languish, meditate, mope, mull over, muse, ponder, reflect, repine, ruminate, sigh, speculate, stew over, sulk, sweat out, sweat over, think about, think upon, worry, focus, peruse, speculate, scan, revolve. (https://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/293798-synonym-for-too-think-too-much/) (Mar 7, 2005)
Most of the above mentioned words amply describe overthinking. In my opinion it sounds like a therapist describing a person suffering from depression or some form of anxiety disorder. Why? Because in many cases it is. Even though overthinking forms part of the thought process it should not be confused with analytical thinking or problem solving. I like to differentiate between these thoughts by classifying them as positive or negative.
Analytical thinking, problem solving and planning all deal with negative subjects but have positive outcomes in mind. Whereas negative thoughts on negative subjects bring about an apocalyptic view on life in general. A negative mindset changes your biochemistry and in turn this affects your judgement and decision making. Note: A negative emotional state cannot produce a positive thought process.
So, what is overthinking? Simply put its thinking on a subject to much, for too long. This only creates problems where none existed. You get lost in your emotions while playing out many possible outcomes in your mind. These outcomes can either be positive or negative. The ‘imaginary’ negative outcomes will create more ‘imaginary’ problems that will need solutions. This creates an endless cycle of negative outcomes with problems of their own. This is called overthinking. Why is this so bad for us, surely being prepared for negative outcomes will solve problems?
It’s important to realize that you can feel emotions from mere imagination. So you can literally create anxiety or stress by imagining a harmful future. You need to control your thought process and see future matters as subjective and not factual. Here is where the difference comes in between analytical and emotional thinking. When you find yourself in a situation where you might face a negative outcome, don’t deal yourself the first blow before the actual strike comes down, but be prepared. Below is listed a few methods you can employ to help you deal with overthinking.
Notice when you overthink. – Take the time to track your thoughts. You will know when you start overthinking. It does not matter when you realize but that you realize. From there on out you can start managing it.
Eliminate activators. – Every person has certain activators that leads to overthinking. Immediate examples I can think of is social media, friends or family members actions, sarcastic comments or your work situation. Start by identifying the activators and details thereof. If possible, eliminate it from your life. If not, change your situation or view on the activator.
Changing your mind. – This should be the easy part of this process but as humans we are notorious for not being able to make up our minds. The analogy I recommend is, hot coffee or cold soda. It’s either hot or cold, you can’t have both at the same time. Choose the mindset that best suits the situation. I recommend the positive mindset. (This does take self discipline)
Physical health vs mindset. – Your mindset can have a positive or negative affect on your body. Your physical health can have a positive or negative affect on your mindset. Make sure you maintain balance through brain training, nutrition and exercise tailored to these aspects.
Schedule a thought session. – Now that you have some basics in place you can plan for a thought sessions. Here you take time to do some overthinking but in a controlled and planned manner. Remember you planned for this, so it’s under your control. Once done with the session it ends.
Lift the burden. – Now that you embark on managing your thoughts better you will start feeling a sense of control. With this control, anxiety could start taking a back seat.
With all things in life this will take practice. Repetition is the master of all skill.
You now have a basic ‘self-help’ starting point that I hope will guide you to better understanding of yourself and your thoughts. Do not be scared to ask for assistance if you battle with overthinking.
These are very real problems that no one should be ashamed off. If you suffer from anxiety or depression due to overthinking get help from a registered professional.
Life is a beautiful gift but we all need some guidance during gloomy days.