The human brain is highly complex; so-much-so that even scientists haven’t managed yet to crack its code. For people who overthink everything in life can be a daily struggle.
While some people aren’t that aware of their thoughts, a large proportion of the population suffers from overthinking and for some folks, it’s very debilitating. However, “overthinking” is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM – the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. Overthinking falls under the more general umbrella of anxiety disorders and is also associated with OCD, traumatic life events and PTSD.
What is Overthinking?
Officially, overthinking doesn’t exist as a specific psychological disorder. Those who engage disproportionately in ruminating and rethinking thoughts over and over again have a mental issue. However, it’s an issue that’s undiagnosable and in many ways untreatable. But no matter the technical details, overthinking prevents a person from leading a normal life. With that said, those prone to overthinking usually suffer from one of the following conditions: PTSD, trauma, agoraphobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. When that quiet or sometimes loud voice inside your brain just won’t stop talking, revisiting the same subject matter over and over, you’re overthinking.
Types of Overthinking
There are different types of overthinking that people engage in. Most of the time, it starts with a small, insignificant thought and then spirals out of control from there. Some of us endlessly deliberate every word someone says. Others try to become mind-readers and predict the future. However, almost all over thinkers read into tiny details and allow them to balloon out of all proportion. Fortunately, there are some practical and smart ways to stop overthinking, or at the very least to quieten the noise or make it less often and less oppressive.
Effective Ways to Stop Overthinking
By definition, overthinking is something impossible to control or stop. However, there are some effective and simple ways that a person can manage the overthinking and intrusive thoughts.
Many people overthink things because they’re scared of doing the wrong thing or making the wrong decision. Accepting one’s humanity and realizing that every person makes mistakes is already half the battle. The idea here is to reframe your narrative and not to worry about whether or not that text message you just sent will offend someone or not. Practice makes perfect when it comes to accepting that one makes mistakes, and not to overthink them.
One of the hardest things for overthinkers to do is to take ownership of their decisions in day-to-day life. We all make many decisions and free will choices daily; some are good, some are bad, and some are just indifferent. However, there’s no point in overthinking whatever decisions you make in life as this is counterproductive, unhelpful, and exhausting. Make your decision, be as comfortable with it as possible, then move on.
Body Vs. Mind
Many people who aren’t physically active engage in overthinking regularly. It stands to reason because when the body is inactive, it gives the brain the chance to overthink things more than it would during a long run or workout at the gym. If you find yourself overthinking at work, just stand up and do some leg stretches and perhaps take a stroll around the block. Often, engaging in some physical exercise, even if it’s minimally challenging, can take the edge off the overthinking.
Learn to Love Uncertainty
No one really knows why some people overthink and others don’t. It’s a well-known fact that the more we try to understand things that are uncertain, the more anxious and worried we feel. One great tip to stave off the intrusive thoughts is to learn to love uncertainty and even to embrace it. At the end of the day, in life, what’s going to happen usually happens no matter what.
It’s Your Turn
Are you an over thinker? Do you relate to a lot of what you read in this post? Do you have any tips for our readers who suffer from overthinking? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this important subject and invite you to add your comments or feedback in the comments thread below.