Have you ever been stuck over-thinking something that happened or something you think will happen only to get your knickers in a bunch?
Right now, what recent past event has you on instant replay 24/7?
Are you “woulda, coulda, shoulding” on yourself because you’re upset at a thing or a person or even yourself?
Maybe it’s not a past event. Maybe you’ve got the future on speed dial because you’re “what iffing” your three favorite doomsday scenarios.
Let’s face it — over-thinking leaves you drained and exhausted:
- Over-thinking leads to analysis-paralysis and robs you of your peace and poise of mind.
- Over-thinking is mental exhaustion on the level of running a marathon every day.
- Over-thinking is a mind-numbing habit that keeps you stuck from living a happy, healthy life.
- Over-thinking and analysis-paralysis keeps most of us rooted in fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
- Over-thinking a problem, incessant analysis of replaying a past event or a future event keeps most of us three steps away from our happy.
- Over-thinking is emotional blackmail that we do to ourselves.
This over-thinking thing is a fish story that goes from guppy to Sperm Whale in 0-60 seconds or less.
I know, it happens to the best of us.
Not too long ago I received an email from my manager at work, “I just heard that you might have all the technologies we use at The Company listed on your LinkedIn profile. That might not be a good idea.”
I quickly checked my profile and simply deleted the one sentence that listed a few of the technologies I managed the implementations for. No worries. Not a big deal. I’m not looking for a job and I very rarely check my LinkedIn account.
And then the thought of someone snooping on me wrapped around my brain and started squeezing.
I checked my LinkedIn profile again. I clicked on “who’s viewed my profile.” An anonymous person from The Company had been lurking. And that just pissed me off. I began deleting every single reference to The Company and then as the over-thinking reached a deafening roar, I deleted my LinkedIn account and all my connections. It didn’t stop there.
Oh no. I went to work the next day and began my own research.
Despite the fact that I shot off my own foot by deleting my account, I was a woman on a mission. I checked the Company’s information policy and learned that anything public facing was well, public. So I clicked through TheCompany.com and went straight to the external job postings for The Company.
Sure enough, the open IT job postings have specific technologies listed.
And then I did a quick search on LinkedIn using a specific technology + The Company. Low and behold it turns up quite a bit of information including for external job postings with specific technology requirements. I could spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn and figure out every single technology used at The Company.
Turns out I deleted my account for no reason. I got pissed off for no reason. I reacted without ever thinking to ask my manager to explain how I was in error. I allowed over-thinking to ruin an entire day.
I did it to myself. You do it to yourself. We insist on keeping a problem a problem by over-thinking it to death. To make matters worse, my recent over-thinking was rather benign…stupid even. I may think I’ve mastered the big stuff life throws my way, but the little things, the pin pricks of life still find their way in to poke at my peace, to test my poise of mind.
10 Ways Over-thinking Destroys Your Happiness and Robs You of Your Peace and Poise of Mind
- Over-thinking a problem will keep any problem a problem, which will keep you stuck inside the same problem until you quit thinking about it.
- Over-thinking a situation will make the situation worse in direct proportion to the time and energy you spend over-thinking it.
- Over-thinking anything prevents your creative problem solving skills from bubbling up.
- Over-thinking makes you worry, and worry is nothing more than your imagination concocting a negative future state.
- Over-thinking is a time suck — you’re so busy in a negative future state or negative past situation (which you can’t change) that you completely forget about right here right now.
- Over-thinking robs you of energy that could be better focused on things that are worthy of your attention.
- Over-thinking leads you to second guessing yourself and creates self-doubt.
- Over-thinking is a TNT drama that occurs on a stage, inside your head, where you are the director, producer, actor, actress, supporting cast, key grip, sound manager, and executive assistant to the executive assistant of the casting director.
- Over-thinking fabricates problems and gory “what if” horror stories.
- Over-thinking creates heightened feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, doubt, indecision, confusion, etc., as if whatever you are over-thinking is happening in real life.
When you break up with over-thinking it’s like writing your own “get out of jail free” card. It doesn’t cost you anything to end your relationship with the drama inside your head. You can decide to focus on things in the present that are deserving of your time and attention whenever you choose.
Before you screw up your day or you week or even your month, check in with your thoughts. What are you over-thinking that’s pissing you off, that’s got you trapped in analysis paralysis, that’s got you shoulding on yourself, or worse, that’s got you what-iffing your life away?
40+ Simple Ways to Kick Your Over-Thinking Monkey Mind Blues
The next time your monkey mind begins to produce a drama worthy of an Oscar, silently shout: “Stop! Enough!” Change the channel to something peaceful.
Train your mind through visualization techniques. When your monkey mind gloms on to something from the past it wants to relive or gets its hooks into a future scenario, replace what your monkey mind wants to watch with something you want to watch.
Visualize a happy memory or simply allow your mind to sink into its happy place. For me, my happy place is sitting in my beach chair with my toes wrapped in warm sand, a good book, and the sound of the Atlantic Ocean as waves greet the shore.
Turn your attention and focus on our breath.
- Focus on your inhales and exhales.
- Slow your breathing down.
- Take deeper breaths.
- Relax your jaw.
- Unclench your fists.
- Breathe in; Breathe out.
- Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.
Go For A Walk or a Run
- Lace up your walking shoes and grab your iPod with your favorite uplifting playlists.
- Get out of your head, move your body.
- Swing your arms. Do a few lunges.
- Walk it out. Sprint. Focus on each step.
- Pay attention to the way your foot makes contact with the pavement.
- Get your feel good endorphins flowing through your body.
- Tune in to the movement of your body and not the instant replay of last week’s argument.
Sometimes, yesterday’s problems or tomorrow’s worries just want to be heard. Take a few minutes when you wake to simply write them down. I have found journaling to be especially effective for my own monkey mind. I keep a small journal with me (I have one that fits in my purse) and I’ve made an agreement with my monkey mind. If the complaint or drama even has the inkling of being persistent, I write it down.
26 Reasons Why I Keep a Journal
- It brings me clarity
- I can weigh the pros and cons without hearing anyone else give their two-cent opinion
- It helps me focus
- For accountability
- It’s a safe place for all my innermost desire
- I can yell in my journal and no one will hear me raise my voice
- It increases my self-awareness
- It reduces stress
- It quiets my monkey mind
- I can track my own progress
- It becomes great source material
- It’s a convenient storage location for thoughts, quotes and inspirational messages
- For to-do lists
- For done lists (I LOVE my done lists!)
- For achievements
- A place to work through my struggles
- A place to freely complain and then release
- A safe place to face my obstacles and deal with them head-on
- Questions for the universe when I don’t have any answers
- It’s my own self-learning guide
- It gives me peace of mind
- It’s a dream catcher
- It’s a vision illuminator
- For answers from the universe when I’m quiet enough to hear my “inner knower“
- It’s an idea incubator
- It’s a judgment-free zone
Engage In Your Favorite Hobby
Over-thinking is not productive. In fact, it’s in cahoots with procrastination and making excuses. Over-thinking produces no results and offers no solutions. Switch gears and do something you enjoy!
What-ever you decide to do, engage your full attention on that activity.
- Be mindful of each word your read.
- Be mindful of each stitch you crochet or knit.
- Be mindful of the sights and sounds as you hike or bike.
- Be mindful of the texture of your paint and the colors you’re using.
- Be mindful of the scents of the flowers in your garden.
- Be mindful of each rep as you do sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lunges.
- Be mindful of each dance step.
- Be mindful of each note as you sing.
- Be mindful when you’re goofing off and playing in the sandbox with your kids.
- Be mindful of each nail you hammer.
- Be mindful of the curve of the bell pepper as you slice and dice one for your salad.
- Be mindful of the thoughts you think and the beliefs you attach to each thought.
- Be mindful of the words you use, whether you’re talking to yourself or talking to others.
- Be mindful of your actions – are they pulling you closer to the life you want or pushing you farther away?
Stand Up for Yourself
One of the biggest reasons why over-thinking gets the best of you is because you’re not standing up for yourself. Your boundaries may be weak or non-existent. Even if you have them, you get incensed when someone tramples across them. Your boundaries are your responsibility to enforce. If someone crosses them, speak up.
In my case, I felt that my integrity was called into question. Or at the very least my entire background in information security was put into question. Instead of stewing in self-righteous anger, I emailed my manager with the results of my research and I did let him know how much it bothered me and how creeped out I felt that someone from The Company was “snooping.”
Journaling helped me figure out why I was feeling what I was feeling. I even wrote out the email to my manager inside my journal first. By standing up for myself, I was able to let go of the drama that was getting bigger and bigger in my head. Sure, I had to wait the weekend before my manager and I spoke about this, but he let me know he received my email.
He heard me. Right there I won 90% of the inner TNT drama. The rest I took care of by kickboxing on Saturday and then by getting my butt kicked by my personal trainer on Sunday. I was simply too tired to over-think anything.
Your turn – leave a comment and share what works for you when your over-thinking monkey mind wants to rule the roost. Is there something I’ve suggested here that you’ll experiment with the next time your monkey mind gets its knickers in bunch?
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