So what is overthinking? Everyone may experience this Dream Breaker at some time and it may become a challenge when it leads to a heightened state of ongoing worry that is difficult to control. I liken it to a mental merry-go-round that is spinning so fast you can’t get off. There may be an internal battle of negative self-talk and over analysis going on in your head. You may not be in the present moment so you lose your sense of normality and your mind may spend its time bringing up the past or worrying about the future.
Although you may be trying to influence everything going on in your life, the reality is, you may be losing control. It may send you into the bottom half of the rainbow. You may worry about threats that don’t even exist. It may cause you to be pessimistic about everything and judgmental. You may even read into things the wrong way and jump to irrational conclusions. You may be lost for answers and you may not seem to find a solution to whatever it is you’re trying to solve.
Overthinking may be a challenging self-destructive cycle that is difficult to overcome. It may be self-fulfilling if your own irrational actions cause your fear to be realised. It may also occur when you lack confidence and doubt your abilities. This may be rooted in self-worth or self-esteem issues. It may paralyse and stop you from achieving your goals and dreams. It may be a symptom of anxiety and be closely linked to being overwhelmed.
I’m embarrassed to admit to you where my head would go. Sometimes I felt ashamed how illogical my thinking could be. The reality is; I was overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do. It impacted my confidence and I began to doubt myself again. This caused me to feel overly anxious and I became a total worrier.
My mind would go into overload and this Dream Breaker made me over analyse every situation in the hope of bringing some rationale to what I felt. This caused my thoughts to go to a dark place. I experienced a mixed bag of negative emotions, sadness, frustration and sheer panic!
When I was overthinking I was in a constant state of being alert. Logical thinking was thrown out the window and I questioned what I was doing, why I was doing it and I’d jump to conclusions. I tried to make sense of events through the eyes of someone who was misguided by their own thought processes. I began to see things that were not really there so I behaved irrationally and would do stupid things I regretted later. I needed to take deep breaths and calm down. When rational thinking returned I was able to see the threats were not really there. The fear was all in my head! This debilitating cycle was rooted in a belief that people wouldn’t like who I was. It meant I did everything possible to ensure they did. I was looking for acceptance because I believed that if they knew the real me they wouldn’t like me.
I have moved on from then, but I still have times where I let this Dream Breaker get the better of me. This happened recently when I held a goal setting workshop. From the outset I felt I wasn’t connecting with the group. During the workshop my worry was going into overload. I doubted myself and questioned whether I was doing a good job. At the end I felt disillusioned as students filed out of the room, handing me their feedback forms. But when I read them I realised my overthinking was wrong! All the feedback was positive and three of the quiet students thanked me for making them feel like they weren’t alone in their battle with anxiety. WOW! It took my breath away and made me realise that I still allow worry to get the better of me.
So lets think about you! Are you a worrier? The Huffington Post reported on an American study that suggested 85 percent of what people worried about actually never happened. Of the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of the people realised that they could either handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. (12) This is good news because it suggests that 97 percent of what you worry about may be nothing more than your fearful mind experiencing irrational overthinking!
When you overthink it may make your thoughts irrational. You may go around in circles trying to make sense of a situation. For me it’s important to stop feeding the worry and get clarity. While this may be easier said than done you may find the following strategies may help.
Acknowledge that you worry
Put pen to paper! I find this is a good way to get off the mental merry go round. Write down what you’re worrying about and the fear that may be fuelling the worry. Describe every raw detail and don’t hold back. Then before you continue, read over your notes and ask yourself, am I being a worrier? Am I overthinking things for no reason? Once you confirm your notes are rational the next step is to think about what actions you need to do to tackle the problem. You may like to keep these simple and direct.
Talk to someone
Confiding in someone you trust may also knock this Dream Breaker on its head! Whether that’s a family member, friend, work colleague or someone professional. Verbalising your concerns with another person may give a voice to your worries. This may have a healing affect because the conversation may make you realise you’re being irrational. It doesn’t necessarily mean the issue will go away. But it may bring clarity and rational thoughts are given the light of day. It may also feel good to bounce your concerns off someone who is not as emotionally attached as you. The saying goes; ‘A problem shared is a problem halved!’
If your worry centres on someone else then sometimes all you need to do is go talk to that person to discuss your concerns. Get the answer from the horse’s mouth! Your worst fears are usually never confirmed.
So lets not overthink things! The resources in the Success Generator and Action Hub are there to help you find clarity and direction. So don’t worry, keep it simple, keep it real and make a start to bring your goals to life.