In our society, we are logical or focus-driven...meaning we value thinking above "feeling". But sometimes this isn't helpful. Sometimes we end up overthinking and suffering.
Anytime we feel stressed about things in our lives, we retreat into the world of our minds. It’s normal to want to think about the things causing us problems and look for solutions. Sometimes though, this kind of focus can become harmful. We start losing faith in ourselves, become even more overwhelmed, and even stop making decisions.
What should we do when we’ve fallen into this trap of overthinking absolutely everything? Try this four-step plan to get back on track.
Revisit the Truth
Overthinking has a way of pulling you away from the facts. It’s so easy to fall into the world of opinions, fears, and half-truths when you’re overthinking things. Fear can feed your imagination, and before you know it, you are thinking about worst-case scenarios and moving away from the truth. Drama spurs on more drama, and it is an overwhelming cycle. But, by pulling back and asking yourself what is true and what you know for certain; you can stay grounded in fact over fear.
Check Your Emotions
Once you know the truth, examine how you feel about this. What are the real emotions connected with this thought? Are you perhaps sidetracking yourself away from something you don’t want to acknowledge like fear or guilt? This step can seem daunting because you’re having to be honest with yourself, as you can’t possibly move past this step without a clear understanding of what’s really going on.
Decide the Impact
So, where does all this leave you? By obsessing and denying certain emotions, what possible benefit are you giving yourself? Or, more accurately, what are you holding yourself back from? For example, if you’re obsessing about a job interview gone wrong, you might realize the emotion connected to this event is an embarrassment, or fear because you’re worried you’ve made a terrible impression. The impact? You might not get the job you wanted. While this may be a setback it isn't the end of the world.
Make a New Decision
You’ve come this far. Hang in there! The real question at this point is, what will you do going forward? Rather than overthink the interview in the previous example, what can you do instead? Is there some way to salvage the situation? Or is this a learning experience you can apply to future experiences?
With these four steps, it’s relatively easy to attack the cyclic drama of overthinking and take control of your thoughts. Once you do, you will probably realize the lesson of the situation and be able to move forward again.
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