What is holding people back from the life that they truly want to live?
They overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier than it actually is. They overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore.
Here is the big way to become a simpler and smarter thinker and to live a happier and less fearful life over overthing.
- Put things into a wider perspective.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life.
So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself:
Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?
I’ve found that widening the perspective by using this simple question can quickly snap me out of overthinking and help me to let go of that situation. And to focus my time and energy on something that actually does matter to me.
- Set short time-limits for decisions.
If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it’s a small or bigger decision.
Here’s what has worked for me:
- For small decisionslike if should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.
- For somewhat larger decisionsthat would have taken me days or weeks to think through in the past I use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.
- Stop setting your day up for stress and overthinking.
You can’t totally avoid overwhelming or very stressful days.
But you can minimize the number of them in your month and year by getting a good start to your day and by not setting yourself up for unnecessary stress, overthinking and suffering.
Three things that help me with that are:
- Get a good start.I’ve mentioned this many times by now. And with good reason. Because how you start your day tends to often set the tone for your day. A stressed morning leads to stressed day. Consuming negative information as you ride the bus to your job tends to lead to more pessimistic thoughts during the rest of your day. While for example reading something uplifting over breakfast, getting some exercise and then getting started with your most important task right now sets a good tone for the day.
- Single-task and take regular breaks.This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and to get what’s most important done while also allowing you to rest and recharge so you don’t start to run on fumes. And this somewhat relaxed mindset but with the narrow focus will help you to think clearly and decisively and avoid winding up in a stressed and overthinking headspace.
- Minimize your daily input.Too much information, too many times of just taking a few minutes to check your inbox, Facebook or Twitter account leads to more input and clutter in your mind as your day progresses. And so it becomes harder to think in a simple and clear way and easier to lapse back into that familiar overthinking habit.
- Become a person of action.
When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.
Setting deadlines and a good tone for the day are two things that have helped me to become much more of person of action.
Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that have worked really well.
It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want flee into procrastination. And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.
- Realize that you cannot control everything.
Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you don’t risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool.
But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes.
But in most cases they’ve also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.
So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance.
This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.