Are you an over-thinker? Here's 6 ways to stop over-thinking stuff, and start doing instead.
Well I've certainly been a self-confessed over-thinker in my time. Boy oh boy. The amount of hours I've spent stewing, re-stewing, and then stewing again over something that in hindsight served absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
If only I knew then how to cop on to that. In fact I really could've done with reading this blog post about 30 freaking years ago tbh! If you're still in over-thinking mode, and perhaps even right now, you're in the thick of over-thinking something, like Sonny & Cher so eloquently say, 'I got you babe'.
No. 1: Admit you're an over-thinker and cop when you're over-thinking.
Like with any non-beneficial habit, admitting something's not cool and needs changing is the first super-essential step. Awareness and acceptance of your over-thinking is a huge deal, so if you've managed this already, *chestpump* to you. If however, you're struggling with noticing when you're overthinking, a little tip can be to always keep a wee notebook on or near your person, day or night, and note down your thoughts. Seeing your thoughts externalised on paper makes it way easier to suss whether it's an unproductive thought or not. Handy hint: the overthinking-thoughts tend to pop up a lot more at night, so make sure you note those babies down.
No. 2: The art of distraction.
Let's say you flew through being able to acknowledge that you’re crazily overthinking, but whatever you’re overthinking about still feels like something way out of your control – another trick to try is to replace it with mega fun stuff. I'm talking activities like maybe working out in a dance class and throwing yourself around like a mad thing, hobbies like crafting or colouring-in even (yasss!), or perhaps just fun stuff like making the effort to catch up with friends so you can switch your focus to their lives instead. Whatever it is, make it fun and make it a regular habit. You'll be over-thunked in no time.
No. 3: Be right here, right now. Fat Boy Slim-style.
I don't know if it's just the ageing process kicking in with a side-effect of wisdom thrown in too, but I'm seeing that being present in the moment is the answer to soooo many perfectionist problems! If you can avoid nostalgically trying to recreate [what seems like] the perfect past, as well as avoiding always trying to create some perfect future, and instead focus on creating the most awesome right-here-this-moment, I seriously think you'll have this imperfectionista-thing down! If you think about it (ha!), it's physically impossible to over-think something that happened, or might happen, if you’re only allowing yourself to live in today, and be 100% in the 'right now'. Even consider how you're reading this blog post – are you in the most comfortable position you can be in? Are you relaxed? Have you got a nice brew on the go or a tasty choccie bar? How can you make this moment right now the most enjoyable it can be?
No. 4: Focus on how you can actually fix stuff, rather than focus on the fact stuff needs fixing.
I actually think this bad-boy can be one of the main reasons why you're over-thinking in the first place. I've certainly been guilty of it so I imagine I'm not the only one. But basically, you really do need to stop asking yourself why something bad/embarrassing/annoying/whatever had to happen to you (the bit you have no control over), and switch your mindset around to what you can do about it instead (the bit you have 100% control over). Ironically, my analysing each over-thought in this way has really helped me snap out of many an over-thinking binge.
No. 5: If you can do something about it now, do it now.
If you're over-thinking an idea or worry or whatever, that’s actually within your power to do something about, you should 100% start that something right away. Don't stew on it or procrastinate over it. It doesn't matter how teeny-tiny that action is either, but action of some description just needs to be taken. Here's an example; if you're over-thinking something you might've said wrong to someone say, but you're not sure if they took it that way. Don't let it stew and simmer, that only adds fuel to your already-over-thought fire. And who knows what craziness you might end up having whizz around in your mind. Call them, drop them a text or an email. They may have been upset by it, in which case you find out how you can fix that. But they might not have. And then you're over-thinking's solved by a three-second text. It's important to remember too that your actions don't necessarily need to solve the whole idea/worry/whatever you have, far from it. But just taking a smallie-wallie step towards it, even a super teeny-tiny one, does wonders for changing your mindset. Believe me. If you can do something, do something.
No. 6: Realise every decision/step you take in life doesn’t have to be perfect.
This is my personal favourite 'cause it uses my go-to 80-year-old self reference again :) you can't beat it. Will you really care about how much you over-thought your decisions as your 80-year-old self? Or be proud of the crazy-amount of time you over-thought about an event? Or might you feel regret for not over-thinking something more than you did? My guess is, probably not. Chances are, you’ll in fact be super-proud looking back on the bold, fearless [under-thought] decisions you made, the leaps of faith, the failures, and the mistakes that catapulted the quality of your life-learnings and life experience as a whole. In fact, all the things that by their nature, were devoid of over-thinking!
I really do hope you can take something from at least one of these strategies the next time a big, fat opportunity to over-think something rears its unwelcome head.
I'm certainly not a cured over-thinker (and doubt I ever will be as I'm guessing it's in my perfectionist-DNA or something), but what I am, is soooooo much better at nipping it in the bud and being the boss of it nowadays. And I'd love that for you too.