Overthinking kills happiness.
There is nothing worse than having an amazing accomplishment or moment with someone and then stopping it all dead in its tracks so you can overthink about it. Thoughts of “what if,” “how,” “why,” and “but” take over all happiness. Brene Brown calls this “foreboding joy.” And humans are really good at it.
Overthinking is worrying, it’s anxiety, it’s second guessing, it’s catastrophizing, it’s making things up. It’s MAKING THINGS UP! Many of the things we overthink about never happen. And that stress of worrying kills your joy. It disallows the freedom to live in the moment.
Have you ever been having a moment with your kids or your spouse that feels perfect? You think, I am so lucky, or it just can’t get any better than this. Within moments though you have a thought of, what would I do without them, what if something happened to them or me?! I can’t even tell you the amount of times I have been flying to an amazing destination and suddenly I think, what if we crash, who will take the kids, will they be ok? WHY am I thinking this on my way to a beach for crying out loud!
Because we forebode joy when we start overthinking. Our caveman ancestors used this to survive but last I checked, I am at the top of the food chain with a security system in my home to keep out the sabretooths. It’s deep in our genes to be wary and skeptical, but we are the gatekeeper of our thoughts. We choose to overthink.
Overthinking not only kills happiness but leads to poor sleep, obsessive thoughts, physical symptoms, and anxiety disorders. It also holds us back. It’s a habit that allows us to live small. When we overthink we don’t do the scary thing, we stay in our comfort zone never growing.
How do we stop this shit?! One, get present and aware. Don’t just let your thoughts run wild. Practice catching your negative thoughts. First, just be mindful of them. When one comes, acknowledge it and move on. Then get to the point where you catch the thought and reverse it. I’ve done this when I’m panicking about crashing in an airplane. I turn my thought from, “Oh no, what if we crash,” to “I am going to get to my destination safe and sound.” I even picture landing safely.
Another way I avoid overthinking is to avoid perfectionism. When I feel the need to make things perfect, I ruminate on a million things. I think, and think, and think. And put zero things into action. Instead I remind myself that imperfect action is better than no action. Oftentimes the events or plans I lay out that feel flawed lead to the best outcomes.
The last thing I will do when I can’t get out of that overthinking cycle, is simply to distract myself. Do something physical, crank the music, read a book. Just get yourself out of that place where you are so far gone you are even thinking about how you are overthinking! You know you’ve done it!
Overthinking is a habit, a bad one. Instead, get into the routine of being thankful for moments. LIVE in those moments. Don’t think about the what ifs. Forget about why something happened or what’s next. You will have plenty of time in the future to live in those moments too!