Thinking Series: Stop OverthinkingNov 24, 2021
Is your mind running, replaying or looping over a topic so incessantly that you can’t seem to focus on the task at hand? Are you thinking uncontrollably about something unsolved or unwanted and it is disrupting the flow of your day? Adult ADHD seems to be popping up more and more.
For those of us who have very active achieving minds this might be the rule instead of the exception. Waking in the middle of the night thinking about the “thing”, distracted during meetings while quietly ruminating, reactive toward a family member when they have unknowingly interrupted your path down the rabbit hole you keep returning to.
It happens to the best of us. Even if we are committed to our business, family or growth it (over thinking) can get in the way of what we really want. This is counterintuitive since our ability to problem solve is a key super power. Thinking deeply has helped us greatly. We create novel ideas, initiate business solutions, connect the dots to expand what is possible. Our ability to think and create is the catalyst for the best in life.
We don’t need more thoughts. We need clarity. Clarity is the path to what we really want. Growth, connection, contribution. Thinking a lot may seem like a good thing but it stops us from taking action when we are stuck in continued analysis. The main issues with overthinking are:
- Creates non existent problems (worry)
- Can cause destructive mind activity via:
- Rehearsing (especially in worrying about confrontation)
- Repeating the negative thoughts
So how do we explore a problem or create solutions in a way that supports clarity, decisiveness and action while leaving time and energy for what really matters to us- our purpose, family and full experience of life?
It’s not as hard as our minds would like to make it.
The Definition of a thought is “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind".
Thinking is “ the process of using one’s mind to consider or reason about something”
When we are overthinking we slide into believing “more must be better” and we are not choosing the highest quality of thoughts. This is happening subconsciously. We are indulging in whatever fear-based thought comes to mind and it gaslights so many more. Similar to overeating, over-drinking, overworking, we are over indulging (in thinking) typically to avoid something we are afraid of.
What tops the list for my clients are:
- making the “wrong” decision,
- fear of making a mistake,
- concern over what someone else did or said,
- being in an unwanted situation
- fear of being out of control,
- feeling loss, powerless, or uncertainty
One, some or all 6 of these tend to be underneath the overthinking. This is great to identify from a clear space. However, when we are in the thick of repeating negative thoughts, it isn’t as easy to gain perspective. Consider that your mind will continue to produce thoughts like a garden. We can consciously create a vegetable or flower garden or leave it untended to become overwhelmed with weeds. It's time to weed the garden.
To create a clean slate in the mind, perform the following steps:
- Weed the Garden
- Write down all of the thoughts that are continuing to repeat
- Look at them and read them out loud to hear how absurd many are
- Cross out the ones you choose not to believe
- Plan and plant what you choose to think to support the results you want
- Direct the thoughts with effective questions
- Reinforce the thoughts that work with connection & support from others
- Ask more questions that direct your mind where you want to go
It is important to distinguish between foreseeing potential problems (being prepared) and obsessing (and becoming fearful) over what could go wrong. The easiest way to know if you are planning for the best and preparing for the worst vs worrying about all that could potentially, catastrophically go wrong is whether intention is present. Intention is deciding how to think about something. If you have intentionally thought about and planned for problems and kept the focus on creating the outcomes you want- overthinking won’t be an issue.
The following questions are fantastic for guiding the thought process in order to stay on track with any issue that has sparked the overthinking.
- What are 10 solutions to this problem?
- What if this wasn’t impossible?
- Who has overcome this problem?
- How can I learn what I need to know?
- What is working really well right now?
- What resources do I have right now?
Now you have what you need to stop overthinking. Consider the energy, brain power and space that is created by removing the excess that isn’t serving our minds. After all, you are up to big things and your creative mind has produced wonderful results. Keep it on track by weeding the thoughts that do not serve your mission.
Now get out there and think clearly!
Listen in to the Empowered TEAM Podcast for more on how to Stop Overthinking!
To connect with Kari Schneider click here
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