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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 September 20, 2018

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

4. What are my goals in life?

Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

6. What do I not like to do?

An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

Reference

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