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Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do

Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do

We all over-think things at times, though luckily most are able to get over it. Some of us, however, are afflicted in such an unfortunate manner that we’re practically always over-thinking about one thing or another. What does this kind of constant rumination do to us? How does it affect our lives? What can we do to deal with it? Find out below …

1. Imagining worst-case scenarios.

Overthinker#1

    Yeah, this one’s obvious, but it needs to be stated nonetheless. Yesterday I had to drive for six hours, and kept worrying about missing my exits, overheating my engine, running out of gas, etc. Turned out everything went swimmingly, my car ran well, my GPS got me to where I needed to go, and I got some awesome mileage out of my hybrid (impressive seeing as it’s a model from 2003). Over-thinkers are always analyzing everything that could possibly go wrong in any given situation, which can be a real problem since this sort of fear and anxiety can prevent them from doing things that need to get done. It’s not a rational fear, either. Even if an over-thinker does something a thousand times with no issues, it only takes one slip-up for them to no longer feel confident doing whatever it was they were doing just fine a minute ago.

    Here’s what you can do:

    Though I still worry about everything that can go wrong at any given moment, I’ve gotten a bit better simply by forcing myself to go out there and do new things. When you start doing all of the things you’re fearful of, you’ll learn that, at worst, only a couple things will go wrong, and it won’t be nearly as terrifying as you imagined. The truth of the matter is that you’ll find that you’re well equipped to handle most trying situations, even when you assume you can’t.

    2. Ignoring the obvious.

    Overthinker#2

      I once spent several hours picking out the perfect café to go to with my girlfriend. I looked at reviews, checked out the areas they were in, looked at prices, the whole nine yards! Lo and behold, when we got there the place was closed. Moral of the story: over-thinking things can and will lead to you missing details that any normal person would have picked up on fairly quickly.

      Here’s what you can do:

      Try to be more spontaneous. Had I just winged it and picked any old café on the street, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble in terms of prep time and worrying about all of the tiny details, which only prevented me from seeing the big picture (i.e., when they were open).

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      3. Being unable to sleep.

      Overthinker#3

        This is another classic symptom of over-thinking. You’ll be thrashing around in your bed, bruising your pillows, heating up your sheets, and generally causing a ruckus, even when, in actuality, you’re extremely tired and just want to sleep. What causes this? Analyzing every single detail of what went down during the day, as well as mentally prepping for all of the things you’re worried about for tomorrow.

        Here’s what you can do:

        Exercise before bed. It won’t get rid of all of your nagging thoughts, but you’ll expel the majority of the nervous energy that normally prevents you from conking out as soon as your head hits the pillow.

        4. Refusing to let go of minor things.

        Overthinker#4

          Over-thinkers have a tendency to let a single (often minor) event ruin their day. For instance, a rude e-mail from your school or work, or a comment from a complete stranger that rubbed you the wrong way. Over-thinkers often go into rage mode over stuff like this, plotting different ways to get back at people (all imagined of course), conjuring alternate realities (in their minds) in order to explore how they could have avoided said situation, and all in all letting whatever happened to them take control of their lives.

          Here’s what you can do:

          You just need to realize that what’s in the past is in the past. It happened, and you can’t do anything about it now besides move forward into the future. Don’t let minor things upset you; in a week you’ll forget why you were even angry.

          5. Failing tests.

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          Overthinker#5

            OK, so over-thinkers don’t “fail” tests per se, but we have a tendency to chew on questions far more than most people. I’ll use an example from the GRE, which is a test you need to take to apply to most graduate schools. Though I’m pretty good at the verbal portion of the test, there were times I would shoot myself in the foot by assuming that certain questions were trying to trick me, which only led to me thinking things over way too much and getting the wrong answer. This didn’t happen too often (since the GRE is one test where over-thinking is a bit useful), but it was noticeable.

            Here’s what you can do:

            That old saying “go with your first instinct” holds up well here. Most of the time, when I over-think my answer to a question, I end up going with my second instinct, when in reality my gut had it right all along.

            6. Experiencing the “time anxiety paradox.”

            Overthinker#6

              This is a neat little phrase I made up to describe when you’re wasting time during the day and wishing you weren’t, though you are too distracted by poisonous thoughts to do anything about it. So for instance, you’ll be sitting in your chair, wishing you were doing something productive. You’ll think to yourself, “Hmm, well I could read a book, play a game, write something, apply to jobs, apply to colleges, clean my room,” etc. All the while, you’ll be looking at your clock, your anxiety rising as the minutes and hours tick by while you sit there being generally unproductive.

              It’s a bit of a paradox really. You’re anxious and over-thinking things because you feel like you’re wasting a day, but the only reason you’re wasting the day is because you’re too busy worrying about what to do instead of actually doing something.

              Here’s what you can do:

              This is a toughie. The only way out of this trap is to pick something, anything to do, even if you have no motivation to do it. Give yourself five minutes to do said task or activity. I guarantee that after those five minutes you’ll start having fun, and you’ll be released from the time anxiety paradox.

              7. The menu conundrum.

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              Overthinker#7

                I hate menus, same as other over-thinkers. It’s not like I don’t know what I want, it’s that I keep imagining all of the other possibilities, weighing whether if, in the end, I’d enjoy a salad over a burger, or chicken over beef, or iced tea over water, or curly fries instead of regular. No matter what an over-thinker chooses, there will be a few minutes of doubt after the fact as they imagine what could have been.

                Here’s what you can do:

                At the very least, do your menu research before you get to the restaurant so that you go in with a plan (though that in itself is a form of over-thinking). Or, pick a type food you’ll stick to when you go out, as a sort of “safety.” Mine happens to be the good old-fashioned burger. If a menu is freaking me out and I’m starting to get anxious, I usually have that to turn to and it generally always turns out pretty well!

                8. You have no problem finishing things; starting them is the issue.

                Overthinker#8

                  This is a problem for me mainly when it comes to videogames. I’ll buy a game and want to finish it, but I’ll be prevented from doing so thanks to thoughts that sound a bit like this: “Well, even if I play it for two hours today, at that pace there’s no way I’ll be finished before next month, and by then I’ll be working more and have schoolwork and have that test, oh, and a dentist’s appointment … yeah, might as well not start at all since I won’t even be able to really enjoy it.”

                  Here’s what you can do:

                  As with the time anxiety paradox, the key is to just start. You’ll have fun, and regardless of whether or not it’ll conflict with events that happen in the future, there’s no reason to cut yourself down before you even start. Give it a try and go with the flow!

                  9. You are accused of being too “silent.”

                  Overthinker#9

                    Over-thinkers hate being accused of adding little to nothing to a conversation. Much to their chagrin, however, this happens often, mainly because they’ll chew over what they want to say for a decent period of time, perfecting it, waiting for the right moment to speak.

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                    Here’s what you can do:

                    Show people that, while you don’t have as much to say as the social butterflies in your group, what you do say is more thoughtful, impactful, and significant. Soon enough, people will quit calling out your silence because they’ll realize that there’s a good reason for it.

                    10. The stutter effect.

                    Overthinker#10

                      Oh, how I hate dealing with drive-thru operators and other cashiers. Not because I dislike them personally; I just can’t remember the last time I spoke to one of them without mangling the English language. This happens to me at Starbucks a lot. I’ll be thinking in my head, “OK, don’t forget, triple grande vanilla latte hot, don’t forget!” While reciting that line in my head, I’ll also be worrying about something else, like making sure to speak clearly.

                      The result is usually something like this: “Hi, I’ll have a triple g-g-grande vanilla(?) latte … uh … oh and can you make it h-hot?” Nine time out of ten, the Starbucks drive-thru person will scoff at me and say, “Can you please say that again, sir,” which only makes it worse.

                      Here’s what you can do:

                      Try to clear your head before you speak to a cashier, drive-thru operator, etc. When you aren’t worrying about every word you need to deliver, your subconscious takes over and will make you sound like the confident human being you are. I’m still working on this, but I think I’ve at least gotten over the stuttering. Now it’s just a matter of speaking clearly enough for them to understand what I’m saying!

                      I hope you enjoyed this list. To all my fellow over-thinkers: we’re all going to make it!

                      Featured photo credit: Anxiety/ Mariana Zanatta via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                      1. Start Small

                      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                      Do less today to do more in a year.

                      2. Stay Small

                      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                      Why?

                      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                      Peter Drucker said,

                      “What you track is what you do.”

                      So track it to do it — it really helps.

                      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                      Peter Drucker also said,

                      “What you measure is what you improve.”

                      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                      For writing, it’s 500 words.
                      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                      6. All Days Make a Difference

                      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                      Will two? They won’t.

                      Will three? They won’t.

                      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                      What happened? Which one made you fit?

                      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                      10. Punish Yourself

                      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                      11. Reward Yourself

                      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                      In the End, It Matters

                      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                      Keep going.

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                      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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