Thinking, Overthinking and Processing Your Fears

Posted by Mitzi Branvold | Friday, July 17, 2020

Thinking, Overthinking and Processing Your Fears

Posted by Mitzi Branvold | Friday, July 17, 2020

Most of us don’t like it when people tell us, “You’re thinking too much” or “You’re overthinking.” What exactly do these phrases mean? What is it to think too much? And why is it bad? Hasn’t anyone who has achieved anything in life done so by thinking things through? Haven’t most scientific and creative breakthroughs occurred because the person thought about that thing in a different way? So how can thinking possibly be a bad thing?

There is no simple answer to any of these questions, but we can make a distinction between the type of thought that leads into problem-solving and creative breakthroughs and the type of thought which just seems to go around in circles.

Calm and Rational Deliberation

There are certain thoughts which come to you as a result of calm and thoughtful deliberation. These aren’t thoughts which make you feel upset or anxious. They’re objective or even positive thoughts.

You approach a problem with the intention of solving it, you think things through and then you come up with a solution. There may be times when the solution takes some time to come. However, the process of thinking never leaves you feeling upset or anxious.

Involuntary Thoughts and Anxiety

On the other hand, there is “overthinking” which is basically another name for anxiety or worry. Often, this type of thought enters your mind without being invited. In other words, it’s an involuntary thought arising out of some kind of fear.

Maybe you’ve had a sprain or a fracture in your leg in the past. And now, whenever you walk, you find yourself visualizing another sprain or fracture. You keep thinking of what would happen if you just tripped over a stone or lost your balance for a moment. And once the thought begins, it leads into a long chain of possibilities which are equally terrifying.

How to Combat Overthinking

What do you do about this second kind of thought?

  • One way to deal with it is to stay alert. Recognize the pernicious thought when it arises and deliberately try to think about something else.
  • Another way is to take time outs throughout the day and make gratitude lists which will make you more positive.
  • Yoga and meditation have also been known to make people feel calmer and prevent them from overthinking.

No matter what method you use, keep in mind that you need to be gentle with yourself. If you’re overthinking it’s because something bad may have happened to you in the past, and you haven’t processed it completely. Give yourself the time needed to do this, and then you’ll be able to keep going.