Thoughts are powerful. They are energy. Good or bad energy depending on the thoughts.
Thoughts are good. They allow us to think a situation through, to analyze things and to grow from there.
But like with all the good things in our life, it should be done with moderation and it’s all a matter of finding the right balance.
- your boss invites you to a one on one to discuss a project you are working on
- your partner says ‘we need to talk’
- a new guy cancels your first date
- you really want to jump into a new venture/experience/project/dream, but hesitate
- someone says something to you that resonates with you in a certain way (good or bad)
All of a sudden a certain fear kicks in. Of the unknown, of a potential disaster, of possible conflict, of ‘what ifs’ and ‘but whys’.
And that’s when your brain has a tendency to over-think.
“The older you get, the more you understand how your conscience works. The biggest and only critic lives in your perception of people’s perception of you rather than people’s perception of you.” -Criss Jami
So here are a few ideas on what to do next time.
Move from ‘What if’ to ‘What is’.
What if your boss wants to talk about your project? Oh my God! What if he will tell you that the project was crap and you’re fired? Oh my God!
But what if he wants to discuss something that has been bothering him? That’s nothing more than a discussion, to which there is a solution. Yes maybe there will be some conflict. Maybe there won’t.
Change your ‘what if’ thoughts to the ‘what is’ reality. On the positive side, you get to prepare and decide beforehand, right? So you get to set the scene and your own mood.
And if you find it hard to go from ‘what if’ to ‘what is’, then at least let the if be a positive one. What if he wants to promote you? What if you succeed at this project?
Get the right think-balance.
Like with anything, there has to be the right balance. And when we over-think or over-analyze a situation, we have a tendency to drift off into the negative side (because of the fear-factor). Happiness is characterized by positive emotions. So if you tend to over-think, make sure you correct that balance on the other side. Limit your thinking to 30 minutes, then go do something you love.
Let go of a need for control.
Back to the ‘what if’ scenarios. We hate the unknown. So we over-think each possible outcome to make sure we have it all under control no matter which scenario happens. Let me tell you one truth I’ve learned: there is no such thing as control!
Stop seeking reassurance.
We over-think to try to calm a fear. So we seek reassurance from others. ‘What would you do if you were me?’ we ask. Or ‘What do you think this means?’. And that’s all fine, if it stays within that balanced way of seeking advice. Because honestly, if you can’t answer that yourself, how do you expect a stranger to the situation to answer that any better?
Instead of getting reassurance or agreement on your choice or action, address your need for it. Get a coach to become more assertive. Follow some mindfulness training to stop worrying about the future.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Heraclitus said ‘Change is the only constant in life’. In other words: things will always change, might as well get used to it.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you. It is the biggest teacher in life, it broadens your horizon and increases your comfort zone and therefore reduces your fear. All good!
Step out of the drama triangle.
Very often when we are scared (and over-thinking is just another word for it), we have a tendency for drama. Drama happens when people want to stay in their comfort zone but want someone else to move out of theirs. It’s called the drama triangle (or Karpmann triangle). In drama, no one has to take responsibility (ie step out of their comfort zone). However, it does not solve anything either. Read this to get rid of drama.
I am not saying that we should not think at all. We often have to really think things through. But we also know best when we are in ‘over-thinking-mode’.
The other day someone had been ranting on about that happened almost a year ago. She said ‘but it’s not really a problem anymore now, I’m over it’. I thought:”Really?” but just said: “The only thing that makes it a thing is that you keep thinking about it.”
So let me end with these wise words:
“Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop trying to figure out precisely how we feel, stop deciding with our mind what we want our heart to feel, and sometimes we just have to go with whatever happens, happens.”