When do we overthink everything?
In our life, at any second we can change our thoughts and set the mood of the same set of events. Let’s look at a job interview for example. One minute, you are thinking “This job is going to be great”. A few moments later, the thought changes into “Maybe it’s not that great. Should I even apply?” The final step of the overthinking slope comes with thoughts like “This job is not going to work for me. Why do I even try?”
Most of us can relate to the chaotic thoughts that come to our minds and make us over-analyze the tone of the email or what emojis might mean. The negative aspect here is that overthinking extends into many areas of our own life.
The time that gets poured into rumination and a circle of limiting and self-destructing thinking is not going to bring us anything good. What changes can we do, how can we switch our attention so we can stop this?
The Overthinking Problem
A study done in the U.K. where more than 25,000 people got involved had an interesting result. The study showed that thinking about negative experiences (especially through rumination and self-blame) can be one of the biggest predictors of some of the most common mental health problems.
When we overthink we are saying yes to a destructive thought process. The question, is why do we do this? In the end, it seems we are only getting terrible advice. The truth is that each of us is divided. We are all split between the real self and the “anti-self”. You’ve got it, the anti-self is our internal enemy. It partners with self-denying, paranoia, self-criticism both toward ourselves and the world. The anti-self is made from negative experiences that we have been in contact with too early in life. Those experiences could be a parent that did not show us love, a brother that was rude all the time, or others.
As an adult you become to self-parent, you start telling yourself certain things that you once were told in childhood. If we listen to this critical voice we will go on a painful path that has nothing to do with reality.
How do we stop the problem?
The first thing that you can do is to speak up to your critical inner voice. Identify the negative thoughts, recognize them and challenge the voice. Here are the most important steps that you can do starting today:
Be aware of what your critical inner voice is telling you
When you see yourself getting in the overthinking mode it helps if you verbalize what the voice is telling you. Are you having bad thoughts that are attacking yourself? Those thoughts lead you to the same outcome of feeling awful. Catch them and when they arise don’t feed them. Thoughts are like birds and this doesn’t mean all of them need to make a nest in our minds.
Where is the voice coming from?
When you start seeing the specific thoughts that you have, easily you will start to see a cycle. Once those cycles become more obvious you will be able to see the real source of your critical inner voice. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find out that most of the time they have nothing to do with you.
Understanding where they come from can be helpful and it is going to be easier to separate them from your real point of view, while also showing compassion for yourself.
2. Face your Critical inner voice
One of the best ways to keep track of what your critical voice is telling you is to keep a journal. It also gives you the chance to respond to these voices from a more practical, compassionate, and realistic perspective.
As you discover your inner critic it gets easier to spot how it influences your behavior. Give a lot of attention to how your inner voice spreads this cycle of overthinking. Be aware when it is telling you to do bad things. You will see that once you start paying attention, the voice is going to get loud at first like an angry child. In time it will quiet down, trust the process.
Transform the way you see the problem
Before making big decisions it is wise to reflect and think about the scenarios that are going to follow. Still, when we start overthinking a situation in a negative way it might lead to stress and anxiety towards taking the action.
By knowing that we have a great deal of control over our circumstances, by seeing problems and challenges and not roadblocks we can keep our path. We can become successful in getting the things that we want in our life. Rather than falling victim to our inner critical voice, we can shift our thinking so that we feel stronger and action-oriented to whatever challenge we face.