Overthinking (thinking too much and for too long): what it is and how to combat it

Overthinking means dwelling on something for an extended period, consuming energy, wasting our time, and undermining our ability to make decisions. The major contributors to overthinking are the surrounding environment, understood as a combination of people and circumstances (family, friends, work, and children), which can push our minds to be overly cautious and attentive to everything we do, combined with our reprocessing of the day or negative events, added to the excessive desire to have everything under control. Numerous scientific studies show that failure lingers with us much longer than success, and once our minds get stuck on the negative aspects, that’s all they see. As a human species, we all desire a perfectly ordered world and often transform our external “being” into the misguided desire to shape the future in alignment with our outcomes.

Overthinking manifests itself in many ways: endlessly questioning a decision and thus being unable to choose a direction, attempting to read others’ reactions or possible reactions, trying to predict the future, analyzing every event in great detail, and so on.

In essence, overthinking is the opposite of agility.

So, what can be done?

  1. Be aware that when entering the loop of overthinking, it’s necessary to take a step back.
  2. Focus on what can go well, not on what can go wrong.
  3. Allow for happy “distractions” to interrupt the flow of thoughts.
  4. Visualize events from a broader perspective.
  5. Stop waiting for perfection.
  6. Turn the fear of failure into an opportunity.
  7. Set a time limit, using a timer for five minutes to think, worry, and analyze. After the timer goes off, spend 10 minutes with paper and pen, writing down all the things that cause worry, stress, or anxiety. When the 10 minutes are up, move on, preferably to something enjoyable.
  8. Realize that the future cannot be predicted.
  9. Accept the “good enough.”
  10. Be grateful to yourself.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-overthinking

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