3 Steps to Stop Overthinking
If anyone is the master of overthinking, it is me. It is one of my biggest downfalls in life completely, and I'll be the first to admit it. I honestly was completely oblivious to the fact that I overthink things until I got into my current relationship and my boyfriend brought it to my attention. Of course, the first step to solving any problem is admitting there is a problem, and me overthinking has definitely been a problem in my life. It's caused me to have a lot of anxiety during difficult situations, to be weary, doubtful of others, and to even doubt myself at times. Why is overthinking such a problem? First, our thoughts dictate our feelings. Our feelings in turn dictate our actions. Our actions produce results. If someone is constantly analyzing every little thought or scenario that pops into their head then can you imagine the constant rush of emotions they're experiencing? I know that feeling, and it's a constant feeling of anxiousness that you can't seem to take a hold of, and in turn it causes you to be on edge and irritable during times of difficulty when you're overthinking everything.
The last few years I've been very active on learning to think and live positively, and have really grasped the stronghold of what needs to be done, but haven't learned to completely master my thought process yet, because I continue to find myself overthinking things. Sometimes I find myself becoming a Detective Gadget in life; trying to fit pieces of events in a situation into a puzzle that doesn't exist. I know it sounds like madness, but I also know that those that are battling with the same issue understand exactly what I am saying.
While trying to conquer this huge issue of mine I've managed to break it up into three steps that I'm working on applying my thought process to when I find myself overwhelmed from the unnecessary emotions due to overthinking.
It's the 3 W's: Why, When and What process.
When we're able to understand why we do something it helps reveal the true issue that is beneath the surface of a problem. This is true for any behavior really. Once you understand your "why" then you'll be able to learn parts of yourself that have been hiding that you can deal with and ultimately put to rest with time. It may take a lot of thinking and digging up painful memories though to get to the why, but I believe doing this can be simultaneously healing and therapeutic.
I've gathered that my "why" was most likely from constantly being let down and lied to as a child that caused trust issues and feelings of anxiousness and insecurity by never knowing what to expect next from my Mother, environment and living situation. As a child I learned to be that detective to look for clues if my Mother was drinking or using or what she was doing, and that behavior has seeped over into my adulthood mindset that causes me to overthink and link things that are not related.
Learning what triggers you to overthink is huge, because once you learn the triggers, you can better prepare yourself for the reactions you're naturally going to have, and then start tackling on working on those reactions. Learning what the triggers are helps you to identify the thoughts and feelings you are having as unnecessary and helps you to work on focusing on other things. I've found that my triggers are all linked to issues stemming from the Why's.
I'm doing a lot of reading on this, and although this is definitely a work in progress for me, I've realized that the main thing you have to keep telling yourself to heal the Why's and eliminate the What's is that just because certain things have happened to me as a child doesn't mean the whole world is that way or that they'll continue to happen. There's no point linking behaviors from unrelated events to mask a deeper issue, such as trusting others.
After you start recognizing your triggers that is when you have to develop some sort of plan to coach yourself through the thought process and anxiety that stems from overthinking. Just like anything else in life, consistency to sticking with the plan is what develops results and helps change your behavior pattern.
My current routine now is when I notice a situation that occurs that is a trigger and always results in my overthinking I write down what the triggers are, what I'm thinking or having anxiety about. Again, I always notice they are linked to my Whys. Once I notice that they are linked to my whys it always gives me a settling feeling that I am once again relating things that are not related due to deeper issues at hand which takes away the unnecessary anxiety. I then FORCE myself to focus on something else. These past two weeks that I've been doing this I've noticed that something I'm upset at, and I mean really upset at, from over analyzing and thinking, doesn't seem to be such an issue anymore after a few hours of refocusing my energy elsewhere. Just like Tony Robbins says "where your focus goes, energy flows".
Being thoughtful and analytical are great characteristics to possess, but they are issues when you self sabotage your own peace and happiness unnecessarily. I hope applying my three W's helps, and would love to hear what your whys, whats and whens are in the comment box below.
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