For me two forms of overthinking exist. First, thinking through and evaluating important, life changing decision (sometimes even simple ones) to a point the thinking becomes an excuse for NOT taking action as there could always be one option, one hasn’t thought about. That’s a way to justify not facing fear and uncertainty which comes with almost any life changing decision, otherwise we wouldn’t call them life changing. And yet, all possibility lives in uncertainty.
The second form is following a thought like a sniffer dog and have it developing in an almost endless process that mixes with other thoughts, deviates and can end in either continuous day dreaming or a spiral of negativity that drags one down to the point of seeing ones life or situation as a complete misery.
Now to understand this, it’s the nature of the mind to get your attention, the mind acts almost like a separate entity. For example, when you start meditating and you try ever so hard not to think, the mind almost bombards you with thought after thought simply to break your effort.
But what does it mean “not to think”? When we sleep we don’t think, when we are watching a movie we don’t think, when we are listening to somebody telling an exciting story or a speaker who fascinates, the mind is quiet. If you recall and check-in your body you might agree that in these situation you feel relaxed, chilled, at a minimum not distracted.
That’s the state when you are in the present moment, you simply “are”. Now the tricky bit comes when the music stops and the mind sees its chance to get your attention back. When we are unaware of this we follow the mind on its ego trip with all the consequences.
Here is the beauty. With awareness comes choice, and as soon as you realise the mind wants to embark you on a rollercoaster journey you can decide not to follow the journey or disembark. I.e. you simply stop spinning the thought forward. The more often you are able to do this the sooner your mind will give up and you enjoy the now. Of course this takes practice. Small steps continuously executed build to lasting change.
What are your experiences with overthinking? I would love to hear your feedback as it is something that comes up again and again with clients and I’d like to help them even better, maybe develop an exercise to give them more peace of mind.
Please drop me a line if you feel you suffer the same fate, if you found the holy grail or simply if you are interested to hear more about the subject.