The ability to think is one of the greatest virtues of us humans. In fact, thinking can primarily be held responsible for our enhanced abilities to judge people and situations, generate our own opinions, make decisions and even make astonishing inventions. So by definition; thinking must be an asset. Which would mean that, the more we think, the better we would get all the enhanced abilities that are the byproduct of thinking. In fact, take the same thought to a higher level and you will remember the famous quote by Buddha that says; “What we think, we become”. Guess what? The great philosopher and spiritual master were not born in an era of ‘overthinkers’.
As cheesy as it may sound, Ebola is not the only epidemic crisis that we humans need to be worrying about right now. Overthinking has gradually become a formidable foe that often tends to threaten the otherwise calm and relaxed minds of our time. Sounds absurd? We’ll, just take a look at what Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema had to say. The Yale professor who spent a lifetime studying overthinking called it the “secret to unhappiness”. In fact, one of the largest studies that was carried out at the University of Liverpool (which included nearly 40,000 people from 172 countries), corroborated the causal link established by Nolen-Hoeksema. The study lead by Prof Peter Kinderman of Clinical Psychology stated that the people who didn’t overthink or blame themselves experienced much lower levels of depression and anxiety, irrespective of their experiences from many negative events in their lives. The bottom line is that if you are looking forward to creating a personal hell on earth, overthinking can be your greatest asset. Here are a few ways in which overthinking actually brutalizes your life.
1. It Will Trap You Within Your Own Mind
Imagine of getting trapped inside a completely isolated and dark room with no ways whatsoever for the light to penetrate inside. Now imagine staying in the same room for an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year. Overthinking does exactly the same to you. Except, for the room, it rather traps you within your own mind amidst all sort of corrupt emotions. It gets you so entangled within your own mind surrounded by the thoughts and memories of fear, hatred, insecurity and every other kind of pessimistic emotion, that you gradually forget about the existence of hope, dreams, happiness and love. The longer you stay in the same room, the more forgetful you become about the shining sun. The more you indulge yourself into overthinking, the more forgetful you become about the joy, love, and happiness that prevails in your life.
2. It Will Dissipate Your Happiness
Now, as you begin spending more time inside the darkened and isolated room, you become habituated of the darkness and solitude and eventually there comes a time when you actually begin to despise and hate the light outside. Your eyes begin to feel some sort of pain as soon as you walk out of the room into the light outside. Likewise, you grow so much habituated of your habits of overthinking and jumping on to a conclusion that you eventually begin to hate and despise joy and love and every other good stuff that has ever happened to you. You begin to accept that all the good in the world is just some illusion to fool all people.
3. It Will Encourage Solitude
Once you get convinced that the darkness and solitude of the room are what you deserve, you prohibit anyone else from the world where light prevails, to even get close to the perimeter let alone enter the room. You tend to encapsulate yourself in solitude and loneliness and eventually you end up cutting off all your ties from socializing. And doing this ensures that you stay in that traumatizing state even longer.
4. It Will Depress You
With the imminent hell being created inside of your head, your psyche will tend to drift away into immense trauma followed by generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and even depression. Now that my friend could get really severe.
5. It Will Steal Your Sleep
And if you somehow manage to survive the depression, you will end up losing your only assumed escape from your private hell. Your overthinking will steal away your sleep making you an insomniac. Now, all you will be left with is your inexplicably familiar habit of overthinking.
Now, that you are aware of the doom that overthinking may unleash upon you; what do you plan on doing next? ‘Overthinking’ about overthinking already? Well here’s something to cheer you up. We know a few of the easiest ways to prevent you from overthinking. And guess what? We are going to share them with you. So just stay sharp as you continue to read further.
1. Gift Yourself The Present
The best thing that you can ever give to yourself is awareness of the present moment. It may seem absurdly simple but it is a fact that by increasing your awareness of the present moment, you can very well get rid of overthinking. Mind it, we are not talking any kind of philosophy in here. And all the credit for making this miracle happen goes to the inability of your mind to focus on two different things at the same time. Getting confused? Well, let’s make it simpler. Try to remember what happened when you tried to complete your assignment while watching your favorite TV show? You ended screwing up both. This is because your mind cannot process two sets of information that are irrelevant to each other at the exact same time. So when you shift your focus to the current moment, your mind transfers all its resources at understanding and observing the present. It’s exactly the same as you forget about paying your phone bills after paying attention to the lyrics of the song that’s playing on your phone.
2. Time Travel
Having trouble shifting your focus to the present? Why don’t you try something easier? Rather than being aware of the present, try to remember some of the good that has ever happened to you. How about the day when you first rode your bicycle? Or maybe the day when you received your first salary. It could be anything that made you feel special in the past. All you need to do is remember the situation like it happened yesterday. No need to be precise about the environment, just be sure that your feelings are the same as that day. And if going to the past doesn’t work, try to make up something that you would love to see happening to you. Try to imagine how you would feel if you got that long-awaited appraisal in your job. Try to imagine how you would feel if you had bought your favorite car. Try to make up anything that would make you happy in the first place and your mind will kick out the overthinking all by itself.
3. You Are Not A Fortune Cookie
‘I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.’ – Mark Twain
Nobody could have said it better. It’s become a human trait to act like a fortune cookie, declaring all the time of how we were meant to suffer, how we could never achieve anything great, how unfair our life is, blah blah blah blah. Most of us do it all the time; when the reality is that in overthinking about what could go wrong with us, we ignorantly let go of the opportunity that lies ahead of us in the present. And the easiest way to not be a ‘fortune cookie’ is to realize that all you are meant to be is a human.
4. It Can’t Always Be Perfect
There is a reason why ‘ideal’ is a synonym of ‘perfect’. It’s because the perfection never lies in reality. You may perform a task better than anyone today and consider that to be perfect but there will always be someone else who wily outperform you in the future. So, in reality, there is absolutely nothing called ‘perfect’. The bottom line being that, if there is nothing called ‘perfect’ then, why seek perfection? Well, that is one heck of a question, isn’t it? The answer is very simple. The human mind has been developed in a way that it prefers criticism over appreciation. And no matter how good one does (even if it is done by ownself) the mind will always find some scope of criticism. Don’t take me wrong, criticism for the sake of improvement is great but we all know why we criticize most of the time. And this habit of seeking perfection leads to overthinking. The easiest way out is to develop a habit of appreciation and acceptance, with an urge to improvement.
Using these four simple tricks could help you get rid of that annoying habit of overthinking. Now that you know so much about overthinking, go make some good use of it. Have a pleasant life and even if some of the days aren’t what you would want them to be, do not overthink about them.