Man is an intelligent creature and has the ability to hold thoughts in his head. Animals have thoughts too but they are of a primal kind and are mainly concerned with looking for food, safety and shelter. But we humans tend to overthink sometimes and get carried away with our thoughts. Thinking is good and is an essential part of man’s growth but as they say, too much of anything is bad and so is overthinking. Daydreaming, wishful thoughts or over-planning actually do you damage and make you lazy and unproductive. We always need to strike the right balance between the time spent on planning for something and on actually executing those plans. It is true that the more you plan, the better off you are but there is always a critical limit beyond which thinking and not acting is doing you harm instead of bringing you benefits.
What’s the Big Deal?
All of us are prone to overthinking and some more so than others. Most of us have spent sleepless nights worrying about maybe the next day’s exams or results when we perfectly know that it is going to do us no good. While some people are blessed with the ability to take the grimmest of situations lightly, there are many who would fret over the smallest of things like:
- “Are my shoes too fancy for this meeting”
- Or “Is this shirt too dull for this date?”
In fact, overthinking has been aptly labelled as the art of creating problems when none exist in the first place! The people in the meeting are more concerned about what you have to say and contribute rather than pay attention to what footwear you are wearing. Your date loves you not for your shirt but for the person who you are underneath. You would be better off paying attention to their needs and caring for him/her than fretting too much about the colour of your clothes.
Why do People Overthink?
There are some very observable traits in people who think too much.
1. People with low confidence seem to be tangled in this mess of overthinking. They feel that the actions they have taken aren’t good enough to achieve their goals and are constantly re-evaluating while people with high self-efficacy seldom doubt themselves.
2. While for some people overthinking is a sort of protection from failure. In their minds they are doing everything they can to ensure their success but in reality nothing changes, except for an increase in their mental stress levels.
3. And for the others it is simply a habit. There are people who are constant worriers and overthinking has become a habitual part of their lives.
Happiness is when What You Think, What You Say and What You Do are in Harmony
Overthinking leads to serious emotional distress and many people resort to unhealthy coping methods like alcohol or food apart from being a complete waste of time. It can also be directly linked to an increase in obesity as overthinking is a brain intensive process and such stress inducing processes lead to an increase in the craving for sugar. And if this has convinced you to stop or at least limit this detrimental habit, here are some things you could do bring your minds into a healthier shape:
1. Always keep an eye on your thoughts. You will know when you are thinking too much and that those thoughts are in no way helpful to you.
2. Now that your thoughts are under your scrutiny, focus your mind on active problem solving. Only let those thoughts capture your mind which will lead you onto doing productive things.
3. Practice mindfulness. The past is history, the future is a mystery and today is a gift; that is why it is called present. Be aware of your current surroundings and the people around you.
Written By: Prasun Jha