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I often get asked what you can do if you are an ‘overthinker’?

When you overthink, you just can’t stop thinking about a person, a situation or something that happened in the past. The term ‘analysis paralysis’ comes to mind. Thinking too much can prevent you from acting and leave you riding an emotional rollercoaster of rumination and worry. When you overthink, you can start to doubt yourself, procrastinate and spend too much time focusing on the worst-case scenario, making it difficult to act.

Deciding to change any habit that has been hardwired over time can be a challenge to change, however not impossible. Listed below are 5 ways to stop overthinking.

1. Develop Self-awareness.

Before you can address your habit of overthinking you need to become conscious of your thoughts, observe how you behave and acknowledge how you feel. Once you have greater self- awareness, you can decide how you want to respond.

2. Put Things in Perspective

When you find yourself overthinking, ask yourself the question “will this matter in 5 years’ time or even 5 weeks’ time?” This can help to change your point of view. In the book called the Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer he says if you want to create some distance between you and the issue, remember that “you are sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere”. That thought alone always focuses my mind on what is truly important to me.

3. Focus on What Can Go Right

Often the underlying emotion behind rumination and worry is fear. When you focus on what might go wrong, it is likely that you will only generate more negative thoughts that will generate more unpleasant emotions. These negative thinking and feeling loops are likely to lead to paralysis. The next time you become aware of this pattern, create new thoughts about what can go right. Keep focusing your attention on these new thoughts and observe how you feel.

4. Get Present

The simple act of putting your attention on your breath focuses your attention on the sensory experience of your breathing. When you tune into your senses, which could include feeling the softness of your hands or listening to different sounds, your senses come alive. The more you do this the more you will experience the present moment and stop yourself from overthinking.

5. Let Go

Accept that there are always going to be situations that you have no control over. Trying to anticipate or predict every outcome is your instinct to protect yourself from failure. Remember that every successful person failed and made many mistakes. Focus on the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.

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