One of the most common things people say to me is “I tend to overthink things.” So I thought about that (recovering overthinker here). According to dictionary.com, to “overthink” means to spend more time thinking about something than is necessary or productive. In a world where we have access to an enormous amount of information, every thought and image has the ability to lead us into a path of self-destruction. Our brains have literally become an addiction . . . YES an addiction!
When we think about an addiction, most tend to conjure up images of drugs and alcohol but that is just one form of addiction. What is addiction? It is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. So is overthinking an addiction? Let’s take a look.
Throughout our day, we think about this and think about that, and when we get tired, we try to find ways to stop thinking by looking for things that will “make” us feel better. We might even read information on how to stop thinking . . . so we think some more! We spend time reading, learning, talking with others, thinking, thinking, thinking. When we finally get tired again of all that busy-ness in our heads, we decide to take a vacation or maybe, we just keep ourselves so busy we don’t have to think. Then, when it really gets to us, we take medication. We look for whatever ways we believe will help. What do you think? Are we addicted?
At this point, it is important to add that thinking about things or trying to figure something out is necessary. It helps us understand ourselves, other people in our lives, and the world around us. But when you look at the definition again, it is the point at which thinking has become “unnecessary” and “unproductive” that we have a problem. That’s when we need to say it’s time to stop.
One of the most common reasons we overthink is due to an underlying tendency to worry. The belief is if we can figure something out, then we’ll feel better. It gives us a false sense of control over a situation. Therein is the lie, it’s an illusion. For a while it may work. The things we use to help may even be good things and it seems to make us feel better, but they are generally temporary. That is because they are external sources we use to find internal peace and happiness. It just doesn’t work that way. Peace works from the INSIDE OUT, not the outside in and the truth is, we can have peace whether we understand something or not. However, if we’re really being honest, we really don’t believe that. Instead, we “feel” like thinking it through is what we need to do and is helping, so we keep doing it. Yet even a good thing done to excess is harmful.
The amount of energy and time we spend thinking about things today has easily crossed over into causing more harm than good. How do I know? When I help clients learn to stop overthinking, it is often like asking them to stop breathing! I see it over and over, the anxiety and panic. Whether we like it or not, that is exactly what we need to do if we are going to finally have power over our own brains. We have given power to our brains and it’s time to take it back!
Are you ready to stop overthinking? What do you think?