“What is that one that stops you from living the life of your dreams?” My answer would be overthinking. It is something that affects the entire human race. It is not a very pleasing experience. It is pretty negative and debilitating and could hinder our growth and positive transformation. But, worry not. There are some practical solutions to handle overthinking. Let us take a look.
9 Practical Ways to Curb Overthinking
1. Become aware of your thoughts
Awareness is the first step towards any change. When you become aware of what and how you think, you will be able to prevent overthinking. It is not as complicated as it seems. While you might find mindful awareness a confusing process, you can begin it by catching yourself when you are extremely stressed or anxious. During such moments, take a step back, and view your thoughts as an observer. Keep practicing, and you will master this art.
2. Stop judging
When I say, view your thoughts, I mean just observe – just see what is happening within you. No analysis. No judgment. Nothing. Being non-judgmental is essential to enhance mindfulness and awareness. Visualizing things as is will enable you to understand what triggers overthinking.
3. Accept your triggers
In most of the cases, fear of letting go and complete surrender is the single cause of overthinking. Instead of denying and pushing away the trigger, accept and embrace it. The more you push them away, the more they will cling to you. So accept the trigger, knowing that it exists for a reason.
4. Dissociate yourself from the situation
Associating a current situation with a similar past event leads to unwanted thoughts. “It had happened that way. And, that is why he is doing so now.” This is a simple example of association. Be aware of that. View any given situation as is, as a standalone one. By doing so, you will be able to cut away from the past and curb overthinking.
5. Stop trying to be normal
It is okay to be what you are. It is okay not to do everything right. It is perfectly fine if you do not have a beach body or hundreds of millions of dollars with you. Being what you truly are – you as you are – is all that matters. In today’s world, everything has a set standard that is often referred to as “Normal.” What is defined by the world as normal need not necessarily be your definition of normality?
If you try to be a part of the rat race to ensure that you are normal, you will never be able to release overthinking. There will always be something or the other that will feed your feed your stress and anxiety. Accept yourself as you are and stop trying to become “normal.” You will definitely experience a shift in your life.
6. Accept that you cannot change all situations
There are things that you cannot change. The best ones are the past. Can you go back and change your history? Well, no. Then, why are you allowing your yesterday to drain away your today? You are not living in the past. Understand and accept that trying to control such moments will just deplete your energy. It is, unarguably, a huge step. Start small and keep practicing to see the changes.
7. Practice detachment
Detachment is a beautiful practice that will help you enjoy each and every aspect of your life without being affected by the emotions and people involved. You will be able to watch and be a part of any given moment unaffected by the drama surrounding it. You will be able to witness the big picture. And, when you do so, there is no scope for overthinking.
8. Be grateful
Even in those moments when you feel zero hope, there is a spark of light that comes when you look at them with gratitude. When you start overthinking, when thoughts flood your mind, thank them for their presence. As you become grateful for your thoughts, it gives you an opportunity to become aware of your thinking process consciously. You will get a chance to shift your gears and move to a positive mode.
9. Surrender yourself
Let go of the control and surrender yourself to the flow of life. Slowly and steadily as you learn how to release the control of the events, your mind will gradually move into a space of Zen. There will be a serenity in this space that will allow you to think clearly, helping you eliminate unwanted thoughts.
A Simple Meditation to Stop Overthinking
Practicing meditation is one of the most powerful ways of becoming aware of your thoughts. Here is a simple one.
Sit down in a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed for the next 15 to 20 minutes. Keeping your spine erect. Close your eyes and rest your arms comfortably across your thighs. Bring your awareness to your breathing. Feel the way your chest and abdomen rise as the air flows into your body. Notice the way the stomach and chest fall away with your exhalation. Do not try to control or regulate your breathing, just let it flow naturally and become aware of its flow. Once you become comfortably mindful of your breath and body, bring your awareness to your thoughts. Allow your thoughts to flow naturally, hopping from one to the other. Just observe the way they keep coming and going. If your mind gets distracted, try to bring the attention back to the present moment gently. Do not resist or upset your thoughts. Allow them to take their natural flow. Do not reach to any of those or try to stifle with them. Be present in this observation for about 15 minutes.
Overthinking is something affects everyone. The thumb rule to stop or overcome this addictive behavior is to start cultivating conscious thinking.
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