Overthinking is what I do best. I can and will overthink for just about anything. It is truly a problem. Are you an overthinker?
Overthinking affects our lives more than we probably would like to admit. We zero in and focus on a specific topic and think about all the possibilities. Usually, the possibilities that we think about are negative. Whether you are ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, overthinking does not benefit your life.
In fact, if you are anything like me, overthinking actually does more harm than good to your life. For me, ruminating on the past usually turns into worrying about the future. I take a thought that I’m overthinking full circle over and over again and it usually happens over multiple days, weeks, or longer.
I tend to start with ruminating on a situation that I didn’t like how I behaved. I think about how shitty I was, how embarrassing I made the situation, or how I offended or hurt someone. I go on and on until I fast forward to the future and create a whole new situation with the same people where I encounter something similar and have to re-write my behavior. I usually try to think the situation into an existence where I stand up for myself and the other person or people are put in their place. This comes from the victim mentality that I was raised with.
Lately, I’ve been able to catch myself in this process. I stop myself from going down this rabbit hole creating drama in my mind that doesn’t actually exist. It’s not easy to do, but it is so worth it. The overthinking that I do to get me to this point tells me that the other person in the situation is bullying me or that I’m a fucked up person. It wears me down without me even being in the other person’s presence.
Not only do I ruminate and worry about the future, but I also worry about the little things. Will I look absolutely stupid in this outfit, am I over/underdressed? What happens if I’m late? What happens if we break something on the truck? What if we don’t have enough money? What if they judge me for this? Don’t be too loud, we don’t want to offend anyone. Don’t have sex here, this is Sally’s house and that is disrespectful. Don’t make the food according to your dietary preferences, you don’t want to offend everyone else who is eating. Don’t quit drinking alcohol, you won’t have anything in common with Sally and won’t have anything to bond over anymore. I could go on and on with thoughts that have crossed my mind. I am always overthinking everything.
How do I course correct my overthinking train of thought? I stop dead in my tracks and twist the thought. If Sally was staying in my house, how would I feel about her and her husband having sex if nobody actually heard or knew it was happening? How would I feel if Sally was late to the BBQ by two minutes? How would I feel if Sally told me that they couldn’t go to the event because it wasn’t in their budget?
Let me tell you how I would respond. I would say have fun and have sex if nobody knows about it. Two minutes is nothing, glad you are here safely. I totally get budgets and I think is awesome you are sticking to yours.
I would respond completely different to other people than I do to myself when I get trapped in an overthinking episode. While I’m not even close to perfect in eliminating my overthinking, I can proudly say that by flipping the situation, I am a recovering overthinker. I have stopped so many horrible overthinking trains of thought from spiraling so far out of control that I’m afraid to be in Sally’s presence. I have improved how I behave and show up for not only myself but the people I overthink about.
Overthinking doesn’t always have to control our lives. We can take back control. We just have to work for it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
How can you flip your overthinking train of thought?