Are you wondering how to stop overthinking? Are you a very analytical person who tends to overthink everything? Have you been searching for tips on how to stop overthinking, because this bad habit slows you down in life?
When was the last time you were overthinking things you knew you needed to do, instead of just doing it? You knew it was important to take action in order to achieve your goals. Instead of taking action on your plan, however, you just sat there worrying and overthinking. Does that sound familiar?
How do you stop overthinking everything, and take action instead, so that you can become successful?
If you want to learn how to stop overthinking, you need to ask yourself this one crucial question: Why do you keep analyzing everything? Why are you an overthinker?
When you ask yourself this question, you’ll notice that initially, very surface-level answers will come up. Answers such as, “Well, I have always been this way”, or “I’m an engineer, so analyzing is just part of my profession” and so on.
I want you to dig deeper. Give yourself an honest answer on why you’re an overthinker. What’s the actual truth here? When you really dig deep, you’ll be able to come up with the root of the problem. You’ll realize that you overthink everything because you’re afraid of failure, or you’re a perfectionist, or you want to be in control. And you want to be in control because you are fearful of failure. Ponder on that for a moment.
The Problem With Overthinking
If you are an overthinker, you are likely also a perfectionist. You want to analyze everything and make everything perfect, so you keep procrastinating doing the job. Now, the thing is, perfection doesn’t exist. So if you are waiting until everything is perfect – but perfection doesn’t exist – what does that mean for you?
It means you are only slowing yourself down and holding yourself back. You are standing in your own way and sabotaging yourself. If you didn’t realize how detrimental this habit is, it’s not your fault. It’s likely that nobody ever told you how to keep your mind in check. You couldn’t do anything about it because you didn’t know how to handle it. That’s exactly why I will tell you today.
Now, I’m not saying that having an analytical mind is a bad thing. It will serve you very well in many parts of life. However, as with anything in life, when it becomes too much, it throws you off balance.
Below, you will find my advice on how to stop overthinking and how to use your analytical powers to your advantage instead.
Why Overthinking is Harmful
Does overthinking serve you? Initially, you might say yes. You might think this habit helps you make good decisions.
Once you look deeper, however, you will notice that’s not true at all. Overthinking actually prevents you from taking any action, and completely slows you down.
This phenomenon is commonly known as ‘analysis paralysis’. Thinking is good, but when you think too much, you prevent yourself from taking action. The thoughts in your head start circling, you don’t know what’s right and true anymore, and you end up not coming to any conclusion at all.
One of my students, Mohammad, was a big overthinker too. At the beginning of our conversation, he told me that he is analyzing everything. He was convinced that overanalyzing helped him a lot in his life. As we got deeper into the conversation, however, he saw that he was overthinking everything because he is overly afraid of failure.
Mohammad said another remarkable thing. He said, “I don’t have many failures. Actually, I have so few failures, I know that means I didn’t try enough things. I have to fail more.” This is a big lesson that you can learn from Mohammad.If you take action you will probably fail a few times. Whether you're learning a new skill, trying to make a sale, or running a business, if you want to get good at something, first you have to fail. Click To Tweet
If you don’t fail, it’s likely because you didn’t fully try. So if you wonder how to stop overthinking, my advice is embrace failure. and stop worrying about failing.
Why Failing is a Good Thing
Nobody wants to fail. And nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake. Why is that? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s because in school we get taught to avoid mistakes. From an early age, we learn we can’t make mistakes. If we do, we won’t get good grades.
They way mistakes are handled in school is completely counter-productive. Why? Because many teachers shamed us for making mistakes. But we are supposed to learn from our mistakes, which means it’s not smart to try to avoid them completely.
That’s why I want to invite you to shift your view on mistakes and failure. Failure is a good thing because it shows you that you are taking action and learning lessons. It’s nothing to be afraid of. If anything, be afraid of inaction rather than being afraid of failing. All of the opportunities you miss because of inaction will become your regrets later in life. There are no second chances when it comes to the opportunities you were too afraid to grab.
So, when you make a mistake and fail, learn from it and try again. Mistakes are only a problem if you keep making the same mistake over and over. If that happens, it means you are overlooking an important lesson, rather than reflecting, learning and growing.
If you are able to learn from your mistakes, then it’s better to start failing right away. This way, you can start learning more, and get your desired results faster.
How To Stop Overthinking Step 1: Become More Self-Aware
The first step to stop overthinking is to become aware that you are doing it. Below are some common patterns of people who overthink.
Let’s go back to what we learned from my student, Mohammed. He talked about how, when he is on the street, he analyzes everything and everyone. When he sees a group of people, he instantly analyzes who is the leader, who is the follower, who doesn’t fit into the group and so on.
Now, what’s the problem with this habit? The problem is that he is focusing on things that don’t serve him. He doesn’t know these people. He doesn’t plan to get in contact with them. So why is he focusing his attention on them?
Analyzing requires a lot of brainpower. And as I mentioned, it can get you into analysis paralysis. If you want to get results and achieve your goals, your focus has to become more narrow. You don’t have time to analyze others. Instead, you have your specific goals to focus on.
You Want To Make Sure Everything’s Perfect
Another thing to be aware of about overthinking is that it could be due to you being a perfectionist. You want everything you do to be perfect and are afraid to even start – because once you start you risk that it doesn’t get perfect.
When you are a perfectionist you are likely focusing on the wrong thing. You focus on the outcome instead of the process. Chances are, that doesn’t make you very happy.
Instead of being a perfectionist, be a progressionist. A progressionist knows that everything is in progress. If you don’t start taking action, you won’t get better. But if you finally get to it you will improve bit by bit. That’s progress.
You Have This Urge To Be In Control
When you are an overthinker, chances are you are also a control freak. You overthink because you want to be in control of your life, every situation, your decisions, every outcome, and every single detail.
But when you are overthinking, it actually has the opposite effect. Intense overthinking robs you from the control over your life. You can’t actively participate anymore and you become a slave to your thoughts. By wanting to be in control, you lose control.
So what can you do instead? Learn to let go and trust others. Things will turn out fine, even if you aren’t in control.
You Feel Unable To Act
Once you get into the mode of overthinking, you will feel that you become unable to act. You have second thoughts and you question everything. You sit still and feel unable to act. There’s a reason why it’s called analysis paralysis.
The thing is, in life, success won’t magically fall into your lap. If you want results, you have to actively pursue your goals. Successful people know that money and success require action. You just have to get going.
You Want To Please Others
A very common reason why people start overthinking is that they want to please others. They want everybody to like them and they’re very concerned with the opinion of others.
The thing with this is, quite frankly, it’s impossible to get everyone to like you. No matter what you do, there will also be people who will disagree. So you’ve got to stop caring so much about what other people think of you. It will only prevent you from taking action.
When others don’t like what you are doing, you are not the issue. When you become successful you will receive criticism. It’s just fine to receive it and ignore it.
I’ve also noticed that people in their 20s are very concerned about the opinion of others. In their 30s, people start to get less and less concerned. Finally, in their 40s, people realize that other people weren’t even thinking about them and their actions. You see, most people have enough going on in their own life. They aren’t concerned with you. So, you might as well do what you want to do.
How To Stop Overthinking Step 2: Choose a Method to Calm Your Thoughts That Works For You
Overthinking is not a permanent condition. You aren’t born with it. It’s a bad habit you can break. It’s a mental habit you adapted during life. The good news is that mental habits like this can be overcome.
The minute you become self-aware about your overthinking you can stop your thoughts. There are actually many creative solutions when it comes to how to stop overthinking. Use whatever method works best for you.
Be Present in the Moment
When you catch yourself overthinking it’s a good idea to focus on your basic senses for a moment. What do you see? Certain objects and colors? What do you feel? The chair you are sitting on? The ground you are standing on? The clothes on your skin? Noticing these things helps you ground yourself. Take a deep breath and take a moment to center yourself.When your thoughts run at warp speed, and you get into the circle of overthinking, chances are you aren’t present in the moment. Your thoughts are focusing on anything but the present moment. Click To Tweet
Many overthinkers find meditation and grounding exercises helpful. If it helps you to come back to the present moment, this is a good method to calm your thoughts and stop overthinking.
I’m personally not such a big fan of meditation, but I do find that my gratitude exercise every morning is helpful. If you want to stop overthinking, gratitude is a powerful tool. Why? Because the way the human brain works, we can’t feel fear and gratitude at the same time. It’s simply not possible for our nervous system.
Overthinking usually leads to a lot of fear and anxiety. The moment you switch your thinking to thoughts of gratitude, your brain should let go of the fear and overthinking.
The fact that you are reading this article, tells me you have a lot of things to be grateful for. You have access to the internet. You are able to read. When you put into perspective, you have so much to be grateful for.
Put it into Perspective
When they go into the mode of overthinking, most people lose perspective. Small things suddenly seem like a huge deal. Everyday choices appear as if they would be life-defining moments.
When you catch yourself losing perspective, remove yourself from the situation. Take a deep breath, and if you can, go for a walk or do something else. When you come back you will likely notice it wasn’t such a big deal to begin with.
A great way to put things into perspective is this: when you are overthinking a situation or a decision use the “5-5-5 rule”. It’s simple. Will this matter in 5 weeks? In 5 months? Or in 5 years? If you look at it this way you’ll get a better feeling for how important this problem really is in your life.
When you are overthinking a decision that won’t even matter in 5 weeks, then you are probably overreacting. If you truly face a decision that will matter even in 5 years then you gained a better perspective on it and can make wiser decisions now.
Try Exercise or Sleep
When it comes to how to stop overthinking, you will probably notice one thing. People tend to worry and overthink when their basic needs aren’t met. So ask yourself, when was the last time you had a good night’s rest? When was the last time you moved your body and exercised? Exercise can be a great outlet for pent up energy or racing thoughts.
You could always go for a run, hit the gym or do a workout at home. Getting your body moving will help you get past some emotional blocks, too.
When you are overthinking, you might not be able to sleep well. Try to develop a bedtime routine that really puts you in the mood for sleep. Try deep breathing while listening to the sound of ocean waves on a meditation app, or experiment with various bedtime teas and things that help you sleep.
How To Stop Overthinking Step 3: It’s Time to Act
As overthinking is a bad habit, but you can replace it with new habits. That’s the beauty of the human mind – it can be trained.
In step 1, you became aware that you are overthinking. In step 2, you distanced yourself from the situation. Now, in step 3, it’s time to act.
I believe in the saying, “Action drives out thoughts”. So, when you are overthinking and starting to worry and fear failure, the best thing you can do is take action. The longer you wait to make a decision, the more your mind will overthink.
If you want to achieve your goals and get results, you have to act more, not think more.
However, sometimes it helps to reflect on past experiences. When was the last time you acted on something that seemed scary at first? Was it really that bad? Chances are, you felt much better after you took action and made your decision.
What’s more, most decisions aren’t as final as they may seem. If you really take a wrong turn, you can always go back and start over. As I already discussed – failure is just feedback. Real regrets come from the chances and opportunities you didn’t take.
I urge you to leave overthinking behind and become an action-taker.
Are You An Action-Taker?
When you ask yourself how to stop overthinking, what are you really asking? My guess is, you are asking how you can start to be an action-taker and commit to your results, instead of letting your thoughts derail you. Chances are, you want to take your life into your own hands.
However, perhaps you aren’t sure where to start or how to start? Maybe you aren’t clear yet on what you are good at and what you want to achieve in life. Or maybe you are stuck in a job right now that you’re thinking about quitting.
If that’s the case, you aren’t alone. Many people these days feel trapped. People often struggle with finding something they are good at, that they also enjoy doing. That’s why my team and I created this FREE personality quiz that will tell you which skill you were born to do. Taking this quiz will be a great start towards becoming an action-taker. And it will tell you which skill you should focus on.