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How to Stop Overthinking Everything

How to Stop Overthinking Everything

When we’re faced with a crisis, or if we have an important decision to make, many of us fall into the trap of overthinking. You get stuck on a thought wheel that goes over and over again with no break and no insight whatsoever. It’s the kind of thinking that does nothing but perpetuate its own existence.

We get this guilt-induced feeling that if we keep thinking on something long enough (usually constantly), then we’ll eventually come up with the right answer. All we have to do is think long enough, and BOOM! Divine inspiration appears.

How can you stop yourself from overthinking?

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Distract yourself

Find an activity, like knitting or working with your hands that requires so much attention that your brain is forced to be distracted from overthinking. Working with you hands is especially good, because it engages your motor skills as well as your thinking process. Your brain simply doesn’t have the resources to split itself into a third activity, that of overthinking.

Other activities are the ones that make you feel curious, proud, amused or challenged. When you’re feeling good and you’re forced to stretch just a “teensy bit” beyond what you’ve done in the past, you’re really get your brain working for you. Or try watching a suspenseful movie. Studies have shown that when someone views something suspenseful, the brain is forced to become stuck in the present because all of your senses are completely engaged. You literally don’t have time to worry about the future because your mind is focused on that’s stimulating you right now.

The STOP technique

A therapist once told me that she gave her patients rubber bands to wear on their wrists. As soon as the thought wheel started, they would snap their wrists with the rubber bands to get them to stop. Immediately.

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Other ways to use the STOP technique is to say the word “STOP” out loud, or if you’re out in public and don’t want to cause a scene, imagine a big red STOP sign right in front of you. Anything that immediately brings your attention to what you’re doing at the moment will stop the overthinking wheel from turning.

Pull the trigger

If you’re in a situation where you know you need to act, and want to act, but you’re trapped by fear, take the first step towards doing whatever it is. Even if it’s a baby step.

Constantly wishing, hoping and praying doesn’t give you any momentum, or any relief. It just keeps you stuck in that wheel. But taking the smallest step gets you out of that treadmill that’s going nowhere and whether or not the first step is a misstep really doesn’t matter. It will still set things in motion so that you’ll move yourself out of the feeling of suspended animation that rumination causes. You’ll start to feel like a snowball, gathering momentum as you go.

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Avoid overthinking traps

If you’re the type who over obsesses about money, pry yourself away from constantly checking your bank account every day. If one of your coworkers is so negative that she always drags you down, start taking lunch at a nearby restaurant to avoid hanging out with her so much.

The traps are things that cause your subconscious to react without you even realizing that there’s a connection between the two. You feel down around you coworker but you just can’t figure out why.

Sure, it’s good to do some self-examination and try to find the insight that will solve our problem, but at some point, we hit the point of diminishing returns. We’re wasting valuable time doing something that gives us nothing in return but more misery and anxiety.

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(Photo credit: Portrait of Young Man With Books on His Head via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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