Do you often find yourself laying awake at night and analysing a situation over and over in your head? Do you find yourself getting stuck in negative thought patterns or worrying about something you said to someone days ago? If so, then this is the blog for you.
In today’s blog we’re going to look at the different ways we may find ourselves overthinking and the detrimental impact it can have on our mental health. We’re also going to look at some ways to help you to reframe these negative thought patterns. We’re all guilty of overthinking but it does not need to control our lives or get in the way of your happiness.
Different Types of Overthinking
- Worrying/Fortune Telling – Obsessive worrying about things that have not happened yet or might not even happen at all is one of the most common types of overthinking. Lying in bed at night, imagining worst case scenarios makes it impossible for your brain to switch off. You find it hard to get to sleep as a result. You then have the added bonus of worrying about the impact of having no sleep on the following day, making you feel more anxious and keeping you awake for longer.
- Jumping to Conclusions – Predicting negative outcomes based on your own negative emotions or past negative experiences. When you’re anticipating the outcome of a conversation or a decision and all you can see is the potential downsides. You’re essentially focusing on the negative based on prior experiences that may have little to no relevance to the current scenario. This negative thinking is borne out of your own past fears and disappointments and can seriously affect your mood.
- Repetitive Thoughts – Getting stuck in a repeated analysis of past mistakes. Replaying a situation that had a negative or embarrassing outcome over and over in your head is like forcing yourself to rewatch car crash tv. This kind of over-analysis can lead to depression and low self esteem and keeps you living in the past. Acknowledging prior mistakes and letting them go is the only way to move forward.
- Second Guessing Yourself – When you dither over a decision that you have made before you’re able to see the outcomes. Worrying about a decision and trying to change it at the last minute leads to a lack of self-confidence. If you’ve analysed a situation from all angles and made a choice based on the information that you have available then you have done the best you can. Believe in yourself and the choices you have made, otherwise you’ll get stuck in a perpetual loop of indecision.
- Unrealistic Expectations – When you go into a situation with overinflated ideas of what to expect because you have built them up in your mind. Just because you’ve brought a new suit, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to ace that presentation unless you’ve practiced beforehand. Similarly, just because you’ve completed a few work objectives, it doesn’t mean that you are going to get awarded for it. Life isn’t like reality TV. You must be mindful of reality and stay grounded.
How Can We Combat Overthinking?
When we have unhelpful, negative thoughts it’s important to recognise them. Ask yourself, ‘Are these thoughts based on my current situation? Do I have any facts to base them on? Have I done all I can to achieve a positive result? Do I believe in myself?’
The minute you start to doubt yourself or get stuck in a negative thought cycle, you must step back, take a look at your thoughts and start to reframe them using questions such as the one’s above. Ground your fears in the here and now, examine them logically and take control of the negative thought patterns that are fuelling them.
Try reframing your thoughts into more realistic ones. For example, if you’re dreading your bosses’ response to a presentation and your worrying about the information you presented or how you presented it then try saying to yourself, ‘I gathered all the facts that I had. I may not have presented perfectly but I gave them all the information. I believe in myself. If they don’t like it then perhaps it’s just not what they are looking for today and it does not have to be a reflection on me’.
Positive self-talk can really help to counteract the urge to overthink. Build your confidence and take control of your internal narrative. Recognise your thoughts for what they are and reframe them accordingly. If you find yourself stuck in a negative spiral and you feel like there is nothing you can do to find your way out then we do urge you to contact your doctors and seek additional help. There’s no shame in it and it could positively change your life. We all need a little help sometimes and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.
We hope that today’s blog has helped you to consider your thought processes and recognise when you might be overthinking more frequently than you want to. Remember, framing your thoughts realistically is the key to avoiding negative thought patterns. Don’t get stuck inside your own self-doubt. Believe in yourself and focus on the positive as much as you can and you’ll break out of your overthinking mindset.