In a recent post about learning to be more spontaneous, I suggested that you not overthink a decision. All well and good, one reader commented, with a plaintive note detectable in his typing—but how? How do you stop overthinking?
At one time, I might have scoffed at the very suggestion that it was possible to think too much. Thinking is good! It is wise! It is what smart people do!
Yeah, well, sometimes...
Thinking things through is good. But thinking things through over and over and over until you've sunk your brain into a rut that you can't climb out of is neither productive nor healthy. There is a proven connection between rumination and depression, and another word for rumination is overthinking—the kind of thinking that doesn't move you forward. Imagine a car stuck in the mud, the wheels spinning and spinning, sinking the car deeper into the mire.
Stopping overthinking isn't easy; I'm not able to do it all the time. Sometimes resisting feels too difficult and allowing my spinning brain to take control is a lot easier than trying to fight it. Sometimes giving in to overthinking feels like sinking into a comfy chair after a long, hard day: Fine. Go ahead, brain. Have your way with me.
The urge to overthink is powerful, and so pushing back against it is a discipline in which you have to train yourself and then practice consistently. It's directly related to mindfulness, which is so widely discussed these days it has practically been reduced to a tired buzzword, but which really is as powerful as proponents insist.
Here are a few thoughts I think to short-circuit overthinking.
Those are a few of my techniques and mantras. Do you have any that work for you?
Check out my books, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After; The Introverts Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World; and 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go. Support your local independent bookstore; click here to find an indie near you.