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The fantasies in an overthinker’s mind are worth a million blockbusters, all kinds of different genres—most likely drama, though.
We overthink absolutely everything, but most likely the things we have no control over: other people’s (re)actions, feelings, intentions, or situations from the past, or worst-case scenarios for the future.
Deep down, the overthinker expects something bad to happen. We assume the worst-case scenario a lot of times, thinking we will be better prepared when it appears.
Controlling our emotions by thinking does not work. Trust me. I have tried that for most of my life. Overthinking kept me from being happy. Constantly worrying and doing everything I could to not feel my feelings left me being completely detached from myself. I spent all day ruminating; my mind was like a spinning record.
It was actually my therapist who once said to me, “Do you know it is a huge capability of yours to think that much ahead and in so many different ways? It is not a bad thing at all; a lot of people are not even capable of thinking that much. You just have to find a way to wrap your mind around the right things and understand that this is one of your biggest resources.”
One of my biggest resources? For the first time ever in my life, there was a positive association to my overthinking and my constant rumination. As sad as it is, but I needed a stranger to point out my positive attributes.
Emotions are free and therefore are not automatically aligned with our thoughts and brains. They don’t need to. Sometimes, the mind is faster than the heart or the other way around, and that is okay. No need to stress yourself about it. Accept!
While the relationship between overthinking and anxiety is commonly mentioned, I would like to emphasize the relationship between overthinking and intelligence, which is the one we should concentrate on from now on.
Being able to think that much requires a certain level of intelligence. Stop putting yourself down because overthinking appears to be a negative term.
If you continuously think of your overthinking as a negative trait of yourself, how could it possibly be the foundation of something great? Understanding that all of this thinking can be seen as a huge capability of mine was a mind-blowing game changer. I knew right then and there that my task is to use this capability to my advantage instead of allowing it to keep me from having peace of mind.
Find a way to cross out all the things that are out of your control so that you can flip the negatively associated act of overthinking into healthy decision-making. Here’s the overthinker’s biggest obstacle in the decision-making process: overthinking our options lead us to become anxious, and anxiety leads us to play it safe when it comes to making decisions.
It is essential to outweigh every possible outcome and option while the overthinker concentrates on what could go wrong too much. Regardless of how you feel, always be realistic and label your emotions.
I recently wrote down all the things I needed to take into consideration about my job situation:
Do I quit the job after more than 12 years or do I stay, even though I am dissatisfied with the current work situation? The truth is, I am sad. I am sad because I would like to maintain all of the fun at work that I used to. The reality is that the fun is most likely not going to return anytime soon, and I don’t want to continue working under the current circumstances.
Sadness strikes me when I see this unwanted reality, but I need to be realistic about things in order to make a healthy decision—a decision that I can live with. The worst-case scenario is ending up with another job that I am unhappy with, and I can totally live with that. This one doesn’t make me happy anymore, so I might as well move on to another one and have a 50/50 chance of improving my job situation.
Keeping my old job gives me zero chances for improvement; the only thing it gives me is being safe and feeling comfortable.
My new non-anxious mind wants a lot more than just being comfortable. After more than 12 years, this really isn’t an easy decision, and I took my time.
When the anxiety kicks in due to overthinking, we feel the need to make a decision right now. That’s a mind game! Take a moment, think about it, because most big decisions can wait until you’re ready.
You are capable of a lot more than you think. Calm down; relax; be nice to yourself. Instead of telling yourself over and over again that the overthinking is bad for you, start being thankful for the fact that you are intelligent enough to do all of this thinking.
Be your own friend, cheer yourself on, and talk to yourself. Write down the things that come to your mind, and you will quickly realize most of the worries do not even deserve your time and energy.
But trust me when I tell you that there are many decisions and situations in your life that do require you to do a lot of thinking. Identify them, do the work, erase the thinking errors, take the risk: it’s absolutely worth it!