We are all victims of overthinking. For some of us it can be a fleeting thought but for many of us it can cause real damage in our perception of ourselves, others and the world around us.
Overthinking is an epidemic stemming from our tendency to compare ourselves to others; feeling inadequate and focusing too much on negative aspects of situations. In essence, it’s our judgemental thought patterns that create this world in our mind – a world of low self-worth and disconnect with our true self.
How Overthinking and Self-Judgement Are Connected
As humans, we are capable of deep, critical thinking about many subjects. If our mental health isn’t always healthy, we tend to judge ourselves and the relationship we have with everything. This causes us to hone in on a narrow idea of who we are. We’re too fat, too old, unsuccessful, unassertive, not passionate enough – and the worst one of all: not good enough.
For example, if you have feelings of self-doubt about your ability to be successful, then this seed of thought can affect all areas of your life such as career, goals and dreams, relationships and friendships. Overthinking the lack of success and your ability to achieve it leads to more self-judgement. When opportunities arise in life like the perfect job interview or the perfect love, you end up sabotaging your potential through the act of overthinking your low worth and inability to succeed.
In essence, it can be a vicious cycle where overthinking leads to self-criticising, which in turn, leads to more overthinking.
To Stop Judging Ourselves We Need To Stop Judging Others
Judging others is just the start. If we have the ability to judge others based on our preconceived ideas and prejudices, then we have the ability to judge ourselves but with much harsher consequences. This inevitably leads to the overthinking we’re so familiar with.
Training ourselves not to judge others is the first step. Look at these two people – what judgemental thoughts arise when you look at them?
Is the well-dressed, slim person successful but the over-weight person lazy or unsuccessful? Neither are necessarily true. It can be shocking what assumptions we make based on first perceptions but it’s these that are the basis of our own self-judgement.
The art of taking in the whole view rather than making a stern, often wrong, decision on something is often practised by Buddhists. Mediation teaches us to not judge our thoughts but to note them and let them go on their merry way. Just observing a simple object can help identify our way of making judgements.
Try with a strawberry – what conclusions to do get from looking at it? Ask yourself why you make these assumptions.
Move on to people – watch people when you’re out and about. See what assumptions you make about them and their lives – why do you have these views?
Finally try this on the judgements you make on yourself and question whether your perceptions are really just illusions you create.
By doing this, you can start to lessen your tendency to overthink. Once negative thoughts about yourself start to build up, you are in a better position to notice and understand them. But more importantly, stop them in their tracks.
So, don’t beat yourself up for judging yourself. Realise that your perceptions can be based on false views and assumptions. Having the right mindset is the key to creating happiness in yourself – free of unnecessary worry and overthinking and building a space of non-judgement. Give yourself a break.