Overthinkers Anonymous

Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash

If Overthinkers Anonymous were a thing, I’d make a fabulous president.

But what is overthinking exactly? After all, we have to use our brains. Overthinking can look like:

  • Difficulty deciding
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Ruminating or stewing
  • A sense of being pulled in multiple directions
  • Blurry thoughts with no clear intention or outcome
  • Self or situational questioning
  • Endless debating
  • Asking for (too much) advice
  • Cost/benefit analysis with no action

No one wants to be be hijacked by a useless or even harmful train of thought.

So how do we stop?

James Clear has 4 solid recommendations for breaking a bad habit:

  1. Make it invisible.
  2. Make it unattractive.
  3. Make it difficult.
  4. Make it unsatisfying.

What I’ve seen work for myself and others best for bad thinking habits (or bad habits associated with any unavoidable behavior like thinking) is:

  1. Recognize that you’re doing it.
  2. Accept why you’re doing it with curiosity, humor, wisdom and/or grace.
  3. Release it. And most importantly…
  4. Choose to focus on something different.

Your new focus could be an overthinking-incompatible quality, like speed, courage, playfulness. Even better something external like a big hairy audacious goal, a change in scene or activity, or something pleasing or desirable in your immediate environment—Whatever moves you outside your usual bailiwick. This will require creativity, trial and error, and conscious commitment on your part.

“Corrective”/habit-based coaching has its limitations but if you find yourself running patterns that repeatedly sabotage larger goals, getting micro is worth a look.

It’s where magic becomes matter, and thinking, results.

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Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.