Have you ever been stuck in a frustrating loop of thinking about the same thing over and over again? It can be about an unpleasant work-related situation or concern over your declining health. No matter how hard you try to focus on your work or pay undivided attention to your loved family members, you cannot get the issue out of your head.
What are the signs of overthinking?
You find yourself obsessing over the smallest decisions, like which brand of soap to buy. You suffer from sleepless nights. Even after spending hours on overthinking, you don’t find an answer or reach a conclusion. Your mind is overworked and anxious. Sometimes you overthink about the “what-ifs” to such an extreme that you are filled with dread and become immobile.
Why do I overthink so much?
This is an everyday occurrence for chronic overthinkers. Even if you aren’t one, you will still face the overthinking demon when you need to make a difficult decision, or you’re worried about a significant aspect of your life.
Overthinking is a natural tendency. That’s how our ancestors survived in dangerous situations. It’s a primitive survival instinct. Thoughtful consideration is important while assessing situations and making crucial decisions. But it becomes concerning when it turns into obsessive thoughts you can’t get rid of. How can you stop overthinking, to live a more productive and peaceful life? How can you make it work to your advantage instead of being controlled by it?
How do I stop being an overthinker?
In his latest ‘Conversations with Rakesh’, SoME Founder & CEO, Rakesh Godhwani introduces you to an effective framework to stop overthinking. By adopting this framework in your life, you will make crucial decisions faster, eliminate meaningless decisions and have more mental energy for your work and family.
Framework to stop overthinking
This framework is a 2×2 matrix with two parameters.
The x-axis represents the ways of thinking:
1. Positive thinking
2. Negative thinking.
Positive thinking is approaching a difficult situation with an optimistic and productive mindset. You focus on the good aspects of the situation and expect the best results.
Negative thinking is focusing on the bad aspects of any situation and expecting the worst outcomes. You are filled with pessimistic and hopeless thoughts.
The y-axis represents the tasks separated on the basis of importance:
If you are thinking about how you can upskill at work or improve your relationship with a family member, it’s important.
But if you are overthinking about which show to watch while having dinner, it’s unimportant.
Four zones of the framework matrix
The I zone is where you have positive thoughts about an important task. This is the zone for optimum productivity and creativity. Your aim is to be in this zone.
The II zone is where you have negative thoughts about an important task. For example, worrying about the future. The negative thoughts arise due to fear and doubts. Here you keep overthinking and procrastinating to put off doing the important task because you are scared of failure or making the wrong choice. Your goal is to identify the root cause of your negative thoughts and work through them.
The III zone is the danger zone. You are stuck in a loop of negative thoughts over unimportant tasks. This means you are anxious over things that are meaningless. You must eliminate the tasks in this zone.
In the IV zone, you have a positive outlook towards unimportant tasks. This puts you in a happy and peaceful state. You derive happiness from an unimportant task like painting or dancing. This recharges your energy and lets your mind wander in the lands of curiosity and ideas. Spending time in this zone is good for your mental health.
Steps to follow the framework
To use this framework, you must:
- Identify important and unimportant tasks.
- Analyze if you think about them positively or negatively.
- If they fall in the I or IV zone, spend more time on those tasks.
- If they fall in the II zone, eliminate the tasks or don’t spend much time thinking about them.
- If they fall in the III zone, find the root cause of the negative thoughts and work on solving the problem.
How can you stop overthinking negative thoughts in the III zone?
Ways to stop overthinking
1. Talk to someone
Talking to someone helps you verbalize your feelings. When you hear yourself talk, you can think more objectively and come up with practical solutions. Sometimes all you want is to be heard.
Writing down your thoughts makes you aware of your thinking patterns. You must let your thoughts flow freely without any judgement. It will help you sort through your feelings. Bonus: If you adopt the habit of gratitude journaling daily. Write 3 things you are grateful for in any situation.
Meditation helps you be more calm and focused. Meditating for only 5 minutes daily can create a dynamic impact on your thinking pattern.
4. Seek help from a professional
Seek professional help from a therapist when nothing seems to work and your situations keeps on worsening.
The framework to stop overthinking helps you to separate important tasks from unimportant tasks, identify your thinking patterns, determine the tasks you should spend the most time on and how to deal with negative thoughts.