Overthinking! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!


We all do it. We tie ourselves up, going in circles, our thoughts running roughshod around our heads. We spend agonising hours thinking and rethinking the same things and in the end….we’ve achieved nothing. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

We get completely wrapped up in worrying about what might happen in the future and about all the things we could have done better in the past. When is it that we’re thinking all this? Yup, in the present…the only time we ever actually have. Rather than enjoying all the fun, opportunity, beauty and love that today has to offer, we drive ourselves nuts following the thought train that’s chugging through our minds in a continuous loop. It’s bad enough losing our precious ‘now’ but because we’re in the overthinking habit, our minds carry on with this thankless task when we’re trying to sleep too!

If I’ve not sold you on this, examining and re-examining of negative thoughts and memories, being a poor use of our time yet, let’s look at a few disadvantages. In no particular order…

1 While all this endless analysing is going on, we’re letting life pass us by.

2 We can’t change anything that happened before, right this moment, with any amount of thought so it is completely unnecessary.

3 The things we’re worrying about in the future almost certainly won’t happen and if they do, we’ll cope with them then.

4 As our heads are so full of all the stuff we’re fretting about that we cannot be clear headed and efficient.

5 We become physically ill.

6 It’s absolutely exhausting.

Planning for the future is certainly worth our time as is learning from the past, but not the cyclical, going over and over and over of something that there simply isn’t an answer for. The type of thoughts you may be experiencing are limitless but these are the type of very diverse thoughts I’m talking about.

Thoughts we overthink

What if I get too anxious in my interview?

I won’t be able to cope if there is another terrorist attack.

What if I lose my looks?

It might rain on our holiday.

How will I handle it if my pain increases?

What if my husband leaves me?

How will I manage if I lose my job?

Some of these seem a lot more crucial than others but none of them, however important they look, are a productive use of their time. Not only this but when we look more deeply, we see that they’re doing us a great deal of harm. We all suffer from stress at some point in our life but worryingly many of us suffer from stress most of the time; this is called chronic stress. There are several ‘disorders’ that are diagnosed, labelled, and treated by medication that are blanketed under ‘mental illness’. It saddens me that these labels are used as if sufferers are ill or broken in some way. The way it looks to me as that, if we can find away to ditch the overthinking, these ‘illness’ will dissolve away.

It isn’t all in our mind

It isn’t only our minds which suffer when overwhelmed by the myriad of thoughts we subject them too stress is also blamed for many physical symptoms; insomnia, low energy, headaches,IBS, aches, pains, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, raised blood pressure, frequent colds and other infections, loss of sexual interest or ability, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis…the list continues but this makes my point. We all handle stress differently so the symptoms can vary but we can see how far reaching the problem is.

The Health and Safety Executive tell us that around 9.9 million working days are lost each year to stress, depression or anxiety. The NHS say that one in five GP visits are due to stress, depression and anxiety.

We know that stress has a detrimental effect on our health but what we may not know is that what is known as ‘chronic stress’ is actually overthinking, ‘anxiety’ is overthinking, ‘panic disorder’, ‘OCD’ is overthinking; I could go on. This doesn’t belittle it in any way, we know these symptoms are terribly real. Knowing the cause, though, allows us to cure it.

We overthink so often that we believe there is no other way to be and that we have no control over it. Overthinking becomes a habit and not a good one. The great news is that we do have power over it, it’s a habit that we can overcome.

Kicking the overthinking habit

When we kick the overthinking habit, we find we have, not only, less stress, but actually more time. You may think that overthinking doesn’t eat up time but the less well you function when your thoughts are running amuck is, in fact, very significant. I noticed it in my own life and have often had the same thing reported by my clients; they tell me they can now easily cope with their daily chores, child rearing, careers or whatever they were totally swamped by when they first came to see me. They tell me that they now have time for hobbies, for fun, for love, for life.

The first step to cutting out the disagreeable mental gymnastics is to recognise the particular ‘overthoughts’ that are unique to you. You’ll be surprised how many there are. Once you see that they are simply made up of thought, already goes a long way to shifting the power away from them. You may like to look at my New day, new life; isn’t it time you had a good day, everyday?‘ blog post.

Once you have recognised these pesky critters, the next step is to choose (yes, choose, all you doubting Thomas’s!) to gently refuse to be sucked into them any longer. It may seem difficult at first and you’ll find that some overthoughts are trickier than others to ignore and that you’ll have days when it’s easier than others. Once you get the hang of it, though, and you certainly can, you will find yourself in a blissfully peaceful space that has been vacated by all the offending thoughts. In this place, you will have clarity of thought as well as access to your inner wisdom; decisions will be much easier to make. The enormous relief of your thoughts no longer having control over you, the peaceful state of mind you’ll achieve and the absence of physical symptoms will be the priceless reward for your perseverance; an incredibly compelling motivation, don’t you agree?

Being, not doing

Our heads are busy; I’m fairly loathed to ask you to fill yours with anything else, but when you’re new to this, a little bit of help does no harm. Once you’re used to gently dropping into the peace within you where there are no busy thoughts, you’ll come to see that this is a way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. For now, if it helps to get out into nature, stroke your dog, breathe mindfully or anything else, then go for it. These methods of relaxing are all lovely, all I’m saying is that you don’t need them…the peace isn’t something to find, it’s always with you…underneath all the overthinking.

Please allow yourself to be open to what I’ve found to be the truth; please try not to feel angry that you didn’t discover, years earlier, how easy it is to put a stop to such a large and uncomfortable part of your life. Even more importantly, please don’t write off what I’m saying just because it’s hard to accept that it really is so simple…because it really is.

I wish you well in your endeavours. Please let me know how you get on or how I can help.

Next week I’m going to talk about learning how to improve your relationships.

Love Catherine x

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.