How to keep yourself from overthinking?

Overthinking is really being your brain running in circles cued by sub-conscious impulses.

If you really want to turn the situation around, you need to employ your conscious mind and stop the run. Here are some effective ways I have been using:

1. Journal.

Words, the structured language is a natural environment of your rational brain. It’s your territory, not your subconscious mind’s.

Talk with yourself on paper, not in your head. In your head, you are beaten before you even start. Each exchange of words spawns zillions of signals in your brain. You react to them, instead of act. You fall prey to your awful thinking habits: “You’re worthless. Yeah, I’m worthless. Let’s eat some ice-cream. Oh now, you are even more worthless…”

(6 years of my life captured in jounrals)

One thought generates another in a habit loop, and you almost don’t consciously process those words.

Take this dispute on paper, and now it looks ridiculous. Your subconscious’ arguments are weak and stupid. You can at last “rationally” talk with your emotions.

2. Mantra.

Break the dispute in your head with mantra. Don’t talk to yourself like that. If someone else would’ve ever used toward you the lines, you would’ve been deeply offended or outraged (“worthless s**t,” “good for nothing,” “f**khead,” “moron,” “failure,” “idiot”).

Be as irrational as your emotional brain. Refuse to talk with it on those terms. Whenever self-doubt strikes, answer with a short line of your own. Couple it with some catchy tune and sing it several times in your head.

I got my favorite one from Les Brown- “It’s possible.”

Refuse to get into any counterproductive dialog with yourself. Use the demoting phrases from your subconscious as triggers to your mantra:

“You are a failure.”
 “It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!”

“You can’t do it.”
 “It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!”

“That will end badly for you.”
 “It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!”

“You don’t even know how to start, you pathetic fool.”
 “It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!”

3. Meditation.

While meditation will not solve your self-talk problem on its own, it will make you more aware of what’s happening inside your head.

Acknowledging thoughts bouncing in your mind while not following a train of those thoughts, will give you the power to step between the impulse and stimulus during normal everyday actions. You need this foundation to do anything about your thoughts. If you don’t notice them but respond to them in a habitual manner, they will always release the same self-destructive impulses in response from your conscious mind.

Journaling has a similar awareness-increasing effect as meditation, but you can meditate in short chunks of time and practically everywhere, because you don’t need any tools for that. A 2-minute meditation is a great beginning of a meditation habit.

4. Take Tiny Actions.

Examining your self-talk is only half of the job. In order to truly get out of the overthinking habit, you need to take action more often.

You function in the infinitive Belief -> Thought -> Action -> Feedback loop, and the easiest way to affect this system is via taking action.

An average person has little to no control over their thoughts and even less control over their beliefs. However, it’s relatively easy to take action, especially if it’s tiny in your eyes.

If you want to exercise, start from one push-up. If you want to read more, read one paragraph. If you want to become a writer, write a sentence. If you want to save more money, put away the first dollar. And do those actions consistently over time.

Each time you take such an action, your feedback will change and will affect your beliefs and thoughts. And, most importantly, every second spent on doing is not spent on overthinking. You cannot overthink and take action at the same time. With each tiny action, you rob the overthinking habit of its mind space.

Do not fuss over how small your actions are. They will compound with time. That’s the law of life.

The Compound Effect

When I started writing, I began with 400 words a day for five days a week. My first blog got only a handful of readers. My second blog did even worse. My first fiction story was trashed with critique, and rightfully so.

But I never stopped writing. After a few months, I wrote my first book. In a few years, I wrote 15 more. I wrote well over 2 million words. I sold over 50,000 copies of my books.

However, I started with only 400 words at the first day and never stopped adding more and more.

When it comes to overthinking, you need to have the same persistence.

Too much thinking is bad for you. Constant self-doubt robs you of power and, in effect, from living a fulfilled life. Treat them as enemies. Fight them relentlessly till the end of your life.

Those vices are part of the human constitution; they will always accompany you. Even millionaires face them.

Resolve to always fight them and never give up. Only then, reach for specific techniques.

A few things:

  1. Reminding myself that over-thinking is mainly negative
  • It is one of the factors that leads to underperformance in many domains
  • It leads to inefficient decision making

2. Remember there are often no links between different things

  • Humans have evolved by seeing links between different thins
  • One of the main reasons `grand theories` like conspiracy theories are so popular, is it hard for the human mind to think that many things happen randomly
  • Same inbox my profession. I see clients all the time seeing links between stock markets and the economy, and many other links, which just don’t exist
  • Over analyzing also destroys relationships

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