The Idea of Overthinking

Lulling ourselves into the oldest trap in the book

In life, we must be logical about things; there is no use in living our fantasies as if they were real. If living in a dream world, when we try to focus on the important, we find ourselves pondering on other unrelated things. It is these superfluous thoughts that impede our logical functions.

Go to someplace green. Breathe in the open air.

You should not allow these thoughts to have complete control over you. You need to keep yourself grounded. Thoughts are just thoughts, and nothing intrinsically makes them truthful. The decisions you make and how they are conducted is all determined by your own actions. Thoughts themselves are not the end, rather they are the means.

However, it is easy to overthink, and to ‘lose yourself in thought’. Overthinking leads you to doubt decisions that until that point have been forgone conclusions. This misty state of mind falls when excessive worry clouds your judgments. In fact, you’re so fogged over that your emotional and rational processing is compromised.

A basic part of life is understanding and developing your weaknesses. Here, let us set aside our doubts for a moment (and hopefully forever), and see our worries for what they really are.

1. Do not ruminate

Because it causes anxiety!

Imagine the worst, assume it’s true, and work from there.

To brood means to deeply worry over an issue, and its typically an action you aren’t conscious of. In doing so, you usually aren’t aware because the situation seems worth, well, ‘thinking about’. Because you don’t know what’s going on in your head, you feel all the more disoriented.

The best way to imagine anxiety is to imagine a torrential river where thoughts, ideas and worries compete for your attention in an endless, straining race. Even when you think you are focused, no sooner has an unrelated thought displaced the one that was in your mind. Ordering your thoughts is crucial because of the complexity and undeniable importance of
the brain.

A devastating mistake would be to label our genuine, authentic ‘traits’ as conceptual, theoretical ‘problems’. If we do this, then we assimilate the ‘bad’ into an otherwise ‘good’ self. Our idiosyncrasies are sometimes hard to understand, but that is no reason to write them off as lost causes.

In a similar vein, there is absolutely no need to give meaning to every minor detail of something you aren’t in a healthy frame of mind to face. You are unlikely to be correct about everything, and the less unknown variables in a plan, the less likely it will fail. As such, it is important to empirically assess situations; this way you avoid doing wrong to anyone.

When faced with adversity, my advice is to sit down (or stand up) and try your best to devise a plan B. Imagine the worst, assume it’s true, and work from there.

2. It is baseless thinking

And it will hit you hard.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

Anxiety overstimulates of every aspect of your mind to the point where you feel like you’ll explode. Depression numbs all your feelings to the point where you’re an empty husk, void of a sense of purpose. However, in both cases, events aren’t going to turn out as bad as you think, whatever the worry.

If you lost anything, it was just one part of you; unlike limbs, these things regrow. As long as you are alive, you have another chance. You can always pick yourself up and regroup, rethink, and reform. Take failure and loss as the sign to change.

Our lives are anything but constant. We are always changing, whether gradually or instantaneously. In fact, life changes so much that we become desensitized to it. Change is always most obvious when it knocks down your door and forces you out of your safe haven. As violent as it may seem, its simply another way of making a ‘new you’.

When you think about it, failure is the perfect segue to reinvent yourself. Pain doesn’t go away easily; it never does. Still, you learn to live with it day by day, and its intensity dissipates. Of course, it does leave a mark on you, but will you let that mark define you?

3. It doesn’t solve a thing

That’s exactly why it’s so terrifying!

You did what you could, but now it’s time to move on.

We all know it’s much easier to sit and hope that our fears solve themselves. Being powerless like that, regardless of your circumstances, is frustrating to feel and to watch.

From a young age, we have been brought up to pour our everything into our endeavours, especially those that are deemed vital to shaping our future. A much harder lesson, one that can’t be ‘taught’ in the traditional sense of the word, is that we must always accept what we have done, and what has happened to us.

Unfortunately, you failed. You did what you could, but now it’s time to move on. The best thing about this next phase is that you get to advance your other projects; the things you’ve really wanted to do but could not find the time for. ‘Right now’ is that time. There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Clean it up, then pour yourself a new one and drink it to your heart’s content.

Life itself dictates this very axiom: we must move on. Strive for new things, but this time, practice your lessons and go for it. Let go of the things that are far beyond your control. Your time as a worrywart is over but be very glad it’s done.

4. Is it really true, though?

Focus on the truth.

Let’s say that you’re assuming the worst-case scenario. It’s understandable that you’d want to mentally prepare yourself for that undesirable possibility, but are your emotions up for that? Is the torment worth it?

Overthinking clouds judgment, and you need to see through the haze. Whether you want to or not, one day you’ll come to that exact realization. Funnily enough, one of the crudest realizations I’ve ever had was that ‘to assume’ makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. In short, it is best to go by the facts, lest we make fools of ourselves.

Happiness only comes when we’re ready to receive it, and the reason it knows how to find us is because it has been inside us all along. For now, that is your sole working-truth; your future affairs will have to wait. You’ll cross those bridges when you reach them. I cannot emphasise this enough; worrying about anything will do no one any good.

Focus on the truth, find solace by making peace with what’s already done, and remember that your life moves on. That’s the hand we’re dealt, and we live by it. We just do.


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