How Not to Overthink as told by a Habitual Overthinker

Everyone has an overthinking friend. For some of us, we’re that friend.

For those of you who haven’t experienced it, allow me to paint a picture.

On the one hand, over-thinkers in the right setting are problem solvers. They can look at a problem, weight out all the possible outcomes and choose one based on their assessment of risk and reward. In professional settings, having an internal processor is great; not so much in social situations.

Overthinking is that moment you stop and replay the last conversation wondering if they might misinterpret what you said. It’s not saying hi to your crush because you are afraid they might see you as desperate. (Well, lets just admit that anything having to do with the person you’re attracted to leads to overthinking.) It’s feeling out of place among people you call your friends when you’re convinced that you have nothing to add to the conversation. Overthinking can be debilitating.

As an over-thinker myself, I’ve over the course of a few year, implemented a few things to keep my thoughts in check and help manage the stress brought on by my own insecurities.

  1. Recognize you cant control everything. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will understand the intention behind your words. There are going to be moments when you’re misunderstood. Unfortunately that’s life. However if your relationship with some one is unearthed by one misunderstanding, there is probably a deeper issue you cant control or they’re not someone you want to keep in your inner circle.
  2. Know that you’re probably not the only one overthinking. Everyone has insecurities. And the plague of overthinking threatens us all at one point. A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine and letting my thoughts out as soon as i thought them. “Woah, you overthink too much. You’re just like Aiden,” (our other friend). Why is that such an important thing to recognize? Because it gives you a safe place to share.
  3. Remind yourself it’s not all about you. If you find yourself overthinking when it comes to your interactions with people, let me be the one to lift the burden off your shoulders: no one is really thinking about you anyway. Don’t follow the destructive pattern of self accusatory thinking. Any overthinking that is inward focused will only bring more burden and anxiety. Thankfully, people think about you less than you think.
  4. Focus on something bigger than yourself. Honestly one of the things I’ve implemented that has helped me get over my overthinking is talking it out with God. I have a specific routine I do when I get overwhelmed with anxiety or social stress. As soon as I feel the tension of overthinking, I stop what I’m doing, pull out my journal and write all of my feelings and what cause it. For example, if I have a conversation with my boss and walk away feeling misunderstood, I write in my journal exactly that. If I have trouble identifying what I’m feeling, I pull out a feelings list or search one on google. Usually my feelings are tied to an insecurity. I write it all out. Then, through writing in my journal, talk to God and ask him what are the things he says about me that make me feel secure. I write those down. And then I pray. I pray (again by writing cause that’s my thing) and ask Him to take away the negative feelings listed on the page in black and white, and replace them with the truth of what he says. I’ve been using this process for the better part of two years and its made a world of difference in managing my overthinking and improving my relationship with God. By stopping in my tracks and mentally reaching out for someone bigger than myself, I’m able to gain perspective and peace.

Overthinking can be a beast. But rest assured there is relief. And if you find that your overthinking leads to anxiety or is more severe, don’t hesitate to go to a counselor or therapist for help. Sometimes it’s the best first step.

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