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10 Simple Ways To Stop Overthinking

10 Simple Ways To Stop Overthinking

Analysis paralysis.

It’s when you do a whole lot of thinking … but you never take action.

Let’s look at New Year’s Eve resolutions as an example. Every year, millions of people say they’re going to make big changes in their lives. And yet only 12 percent of folks stick to their resolution.

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Why?

It’s not that they don’t want to change. But when you don’t set a plan in place for getting off your butt and taking the steps necessary to making your goal happen, then failure is often the result.

Here are 10 easy ways to stop overthinking and start doing.

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Set short time limits for decisions.

One of the easiest ways to stop overthinking is to give yourself “decision making deadlines.” It’s okay to take some time to think through tough decisions. But most decisions shouldn’t require a lot of your time. Here’s what I do: set a reminder on my phone when I need to make a decision quickly and am spending too much time thinking about it.

Become a person of action.

The first step is often the hardest. But it’s the most important. If you want to change something in your life, you need to take action now. It sounds simple but most of us just don’t do it. Want to lose weight? What have you done today to make that happen? Want to quit your job and work for yourself? What action have you taken today to achieve that goal? Take baby steps … starting this moment.

Let go.

One of the most important lessons to help you stop overthinking is this: you can’t control everything. There will always be circumstances beyond your control. So embrace your fears, and face them head-on. Don’t be afraid to stumble. Because you’ll learn valuable life lessons with each failure that will only serve to help you grow.

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Write down your action plan and track your progress every day.

This is by far the most effective strategy I’ve used to stop overthinking and become a man of action. It’s very simple too. Pick up a cheap daily planner (or find one online). At the beginning of each week, write down the things you want to accomplish that week. Then, every day record what actions you’re taking to get there. Every day one of the first things I do is list out the things I’m going to do to achieve my goals. And when I check those things off my list, I know I’m closer than I was the day before.

Burn some calories.

Exercise is an amazingly therapeutic way to free your mind of negative thoughts and help you keep a healthier body and a healthier mind. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore either. Find an activity you love to do, then start doing it every day … even if it’s for five minutes. Once exercise becomes a habit that’s part of your every day life, you’ll notice that you start to become a better decision maker (and you’ll look and feel better too).

Meditate.

Meditation is a scientifically backed method to help you relax and free your mind. Even taking a few minutes every day and focusing on just breathing slowly and deeply can have a profound impact on your life. It’s one of the best ways to help you put things into perspective and stop overthinking.

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Read something inspiring.

Sometimes too much reading can be counter-intuitive. But reading inspiring words (like you’ll find on Lifehack) can help you develop a more positive, motivated mindset. Don’t just read and do nothing though. The key is to take that positive energy and turn it into some type of action that gets you closer to where you want to be.

Do something spontaneous.

Spontaneity is a fantastic way to break you out of a funk and help clear your head. Many of us don’t think we have a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous because of work and family constraints. However, being spontaneous can be something as simple as trying a new food; going to a new class at the gym; or watching a new TV show. The point is, you want to place yourself out of your comfort zone so you can experience different ways of thinking … which can in turn prevent overthinking.

Talk to a mentor.

A lot of times when you’re stuck, an outsider’s opinion can help you overcome your tendency to overthink and overanalyze. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to someone you respect and tell them about your challenges. You’ll find that most people are happy to help, and appreciate the fact that you respect them enough to ask them for help.

Make a commitment.

Dr. Robert Cialdini says in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

    , “Once a stand is taken, there’s a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand.” Commitment is a psychological principle that is one of the best ways to help you stop overthinking. It’s this simple: state out loud what you commit to doing, and frame it as something specific you will do. For example, “I commit to losing 10 pounds and getting in the best shape of my life.” Then go and tell everyone you know, which will keep you more motivated and accountable to taking action.

    More by this author

    Scott Christ

    Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

    “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

    Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

    You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

    Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

    1. Take a step back and evaluate

    When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

    1. What is the problem?
    2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
    3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
    4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
    5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

    Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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    2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

    If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

    At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

    Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

    3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

    Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

    4. Process your thoughts/emotions

    Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

    1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
    2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
    3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
    4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

    5. Acknowledge your thoughts

    Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

    By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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    Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

    6. Give yourself a break

    If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

    7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

    A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

    Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

    After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

    8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

    As Helen Keller once said,

    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

    9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

    In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

    1. What’s the situation?
    2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
    3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
    4. Take action on your next steps!

    After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

    10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

    A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

    Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

    For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

    11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

    No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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    12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

    No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

    13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

    There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

    After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

    Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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