The Real Reason Why We Overthink and How to Stop. Guest post by Sanjna Pathak

Overthinking is torture. To be locked in your mind with a constant array of discommoding thoughts is hell.

¤ How you do escape?
The brain is tricky, to stop thinking about something, you have to think about not thinking about it in an attempt to think about something else. It is despairing. I am perhaps a chronic overthinker. I say so because I do it almost everyday and it does not help that I am a writer. Overthinking is part of the formula of getting a story onto paper. But I have learned and I am still learning how to get out of my head and settle my mind of these thought barrages. I am learning how to come out of the laboratory and be patient about my findings.

¤The Reason:
We overthink because we are desperate creatures hunting for answers. We like certainty and we like being in control. Don’t worry, its part of human survival tactic. Well, somewhat. Overthinking is not all bad. Probability theory requires that all possible outcomes of an event must be explored to determine what can really happen in that given situation.
We know what that is like; before a big event we find ourselves thinking about it so much, we create hypothetical beginnings and endings and even climaxes of said event before it even happens. In a way, it is preparation, so that we can deal with whatever outcome there is and not suffer from too much of a surprising consequence. And in a way it is vaticination. We cannot predict the future, but there is a deep longing inside of us that wishes we could have.
Our intuition gives us half ability to do that. This way, we sometimes can sense when something is wrong, where we should or should not go, who we can and cannot trust. We have a powerful inside voice us that can sometimes save our lives. Overthinking puts that voice on blast. It is a harsh process to go through but it is sometimes necessary.

¤The Detriment:
Overthinking is fear. Fear is a seed of a treacherous tree. We were not born with fear, it came upon us either through imparted lesson, life experience or trauma. Unfortunately, we had little to no control over what was taught or done to us in the years of our childhood. Many of us still have branches of fear living inside us from since the days of our youth. Things happen to us in childhood, relationships, friendships and in jobs and the ugly part of the experiences latch on to us so tight, the thoughts about these past experiences surface like settled poison oozing through the brain in a single moment of “thinking too much”.
We form these destructive thought patterns that are almost inescapable once we begin. We think and think about something that might be a completely innocent situation, but it is because the poison has erupted and infiltrated our minds, we create this hell. The more we overthink, the more fear we invite in and the more unsettling our thoughts become. It is a vicious cycle especially to those who suffer from anxiety disorder, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

¤How to Stop:
It is impossible to completely erase fear. You cannot just “let go of fear”. Meditation will help you silence your thoughts and develop patterns of clearer thinking but you will never be able to erase fear. Why? Because fear is part of human instinct and it is necessary in that aspect of survival and avoiding danger.
However, very rarely or perhaps never will we find ourselves in front of a tiger, and we have to make the decision to either run away or become its meal. Fear then, has the power to outsmart the mammal or even kill it.
Stress and emotional fear is different. Fear that attacks our emotions is harder to class as a fear that is helping us survive. So, all we do is overthink. We give into that type of fear and it stresses the brain to the point of irrationality and in some cases, insanity.

¤How do you stop?
Pay attention. Train yourself and your mind to be more self-aware. I have stickers on my vision board in my workspace that says “be aware” and “stay focused” and as trivial as that method seems, it helps. The moment you feel yourself about to drift off into “overthinking land”, you can do two things; either be completely silent or start talking.
When you silence yourself you prepare for the poison, you know its coming so you get ready. Read, watch tv, do chores, shower and cook. Anything will serve as a distraction when you are silent. Try to remind yourself that you are overthinking and that it will pass. Give yourself the affirmation that it is fear and stress attacking you and that you will defeat it. Be strong in your silence and be patient for the unsettledness to allay.

When you start talking you give yourself a chance to let stress out. But be careful, venting can be contrite, especially when the person or persons to whom you are speaking to may not understand you or sympathise immediately. Admit that you are overthinking and that you are lost in the ordeal. When you talk about what’s on your mind remember that it won’t completely make sense to you, let alone to the person you’re talking to. But getting things off of your chest right away is a good method to adapt so that you don’t suffer for a long period alone in your head.

¤Cry.
Crying is healing. In all of my adult years so far, I found that crying has helped me move past the toughest of times I have ever faced. When I overthink I automatically get emotional and vulnerable, so I end up crying. It is painful and it is exhausting but the outcome is appeasing. Overthinking is already a bottle of prisoned thoughts banging to come out, when you cry you allow yourself to alleviate some of the pressure that comes with being stuck inside your head. You ever noticed that headache that comes after crying? It is a pressure release. If you are not a person easily brought to tears or perhaps you are not yet 100% comfortable in your emotions, it will be difficult for you to just try to amend your troubled thoughts. In that case, you first need to learn how to connect with your emotions and your true self.

¤Think. 
Let me explain. To stop overthinking you need to think? Yes. Because most of the times we are overthinking we are not even constructively thinking but rather we are wallowing those worn thoughts about our fears and frustrations. Constructive thinking can change your life. For now, I’ll tell you how it can help to stop overthinking. We possess the power to change the way we think; but it requires practice and a ton of self-discipline but it is not impossible.

Constructive thinking is basically a way of thinking constructively about your world and environment. So instead of reacting to these events, you choose to interpret and then respond to them in ways that will support your growth and development and minimize friction with the external environment. Keep in mind that how you interpret events and circumstances effectively determines how you will respond to them emotionally.

You may not always be able to tell when you are about to overthink but you can prepare yourself. You can practice constructive thinking. It will not be easy to do anything other than sit and suffer in your thoughts but you have to find the will help yourself first. Instead of staring off into space and piling your thoughts one on top of the other as they come, read. Reading encourages constructive thinking because you automatically adjust your attention to different material that will not only shift your focus from your toxic thoughts but benefit you by feeding you knowledge or entertaining your mind.

You must remember that it is ok to overthink. It is human. But overthinking can ruin your life.

Guest post by @quotes_ashna
Label : Sanjna Pathak.

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