Updated: Jun 13, 2022
What is over-thinking?
The buddha summed it up
“I don’t envision a single thing that, when unguarded, leads to such great harm as the mind. The mind, when unguarded, leads to great harm”.
Hell I am, who isn't in this day and age!
As a child my mind wandered, thinking of wonderful things, back then labelled as a daydreamer, and as I got older it has become over thinking, constantly analysing and thinking about life. So what's wrong with that! Absolutely nothing, as long as it's constructive and solution orientated.
Self reflection was practiced by the greatest minds in the world, the “Stoics”. The likes of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius reference periods of great enlightenment from internal practices such as Premeditatio Malorum (“the premeditation of evils”) is a Stoic exercise of imagining things that could go wrong or be taken away from us. To prepare ourselves for life’s inevitable setbacks and develop resilience in the face of uncertainty. We don’t always get what is rightfully ours, even if we’ve earned it. Life isn't as straightforward as we like at times so, we must prepare ourselves.
“What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events.
So reflection and preparation is a good thing, however to have a repeating thought with no solution in sight or way forward, can become quite exhausting leading to anxiety and other prolonged health effects.
Overthinking is often characterised as ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. This kind of thinking is unproductive and can further lead to despair . It makes it difficult to enjoy daily activities and disrupts our emotional regulation and sleep patterns.
So if you catch yourself having thoughts such as these:
I constantly remind myself of mistakes.
I relive embarrassing moments in my mind over and over.
I often ask myself "what if..." questions.
I have difficulty sleeping because it feels like my brain won't shut off.
When I recall conversations with people, I can’t help but think about all the things I wish I had or hadn't said.
You can set aside time such as 15-20 minutes to consider the issue and then devise a positive way to solve the problem.
So, STOP, write them down and find a positive corresponding action, with time you will develop mental strength to manage these unproductive thoughts.
Set some time to get outside and get in touch with nature, whether that be a walk, run or just sitting, re-centre yourself and enjoy the present moment, be grateful for the moment.