“You overthink too much.”
The Aussie told me this straight out while I was in Australia. I, of course, rebuffed his statement because I like to think I’m so easy going and simple.
I am, in general. I think. I am very much a go-with-the-flow, just-trust-the-universe type of person. You wanna do that? Sweet, I’m game.
Unless of course, I had a preconceived idea about something. That I’ve visualized how something’s gonna go down, and it doesn’t. Then I figure out why it didn’t happen that way. Was it something I did, and therefore, I can change for the future for a different outcome? Was it something out of my realm where I had no influence?
I live in my head. A lot. I think that is why I need daily power naps. My brain is in motion constantly. Thinking thinking thinking. Thinking about what I need to do that day. Thinking about ten different ways I could do something. I daydream about people I’m in love with. I daydream about places I want to see. I relive my favorite memories. I analyze why things happened in an argument. In a discussion. At a dinner with friends. Tick tick tick…
I make fun of myself because I always say I think like a criminal. I think of how someone could break in, how someone could blow something up. It’s kind of creepy and totally weird. But I would never act on anything. I always look for exits, escapes.. in case of an earthquake, in case of a masked gunman, in case of a tsunami. I’m a freak! I know.
I’m also in a very unusual dating situation. With guys, I have people I date, I have people I am friends with, I have friends I date. I know this sounds very confusing. But for all of them, I have rules. Because I’ve thought out every possible scenario. I go with the most realistic and likely scenario… which for each of them, is nothing; that is, nothing ever evolves or comes of it. We stay friends. Sometimes, I think, what if we didn’t stay friends- what if we tried to develop something? And I realize those outcomes aren’t 1) realistic and 2) not the best option- for me.
I am an overthinker.
Why do I think about every scenario? Dating, escaping or otherwise? To protect myself. In regards to love, I’ve handed my heart to eight people…four of whom crushed it and threw it back at me, and four of whom I asked for it back. Moving forward, I don’t want to give my heart to anyone, unless I know they will handle it with care. And I only can be sure of this by putting up boundaries. Creating rules.
Ultimately, my overthinking, the rules… it all has to do with control. And having control over the situation. So that I can prove to myself and others, I know what I’m doing, because I have already thought of everything. Then it’s expected. I’m not getting smacked in the face. I’m not handing out my heart willy-nilly. I’m in control.
The need for control stems from trying to avoid negative outcomes. Ultimately, I keep status quo… much like my family and my life growing up. Keeping happy and stable. My praise and recognition in life has always come from positive behaviors. So I overthink… I overthink so that I can maintain and retain this positive acknowledgement. As a result, I am depriving myself of real lessons, of letting go to allow myself to fail. And learn from that. Instead of learning from the avoidance of it. To be okay with a negative outcome.
Overthinking goes hand in hand with worrying. Staying present and in the moment, helps to alleviate this… hence why I think yoga is not only a great workout, but a great tool for staying present. The teachings and classes are geared for in-the-moment living.
How can I relax and not over think everything or worry? I found these steps to cope with daily stresses.
Relax! Here’s How
1. Identify productive and unproductive worry
First, determine whether your worries will help you find practical solutions to a dilemma. If “yes, my worries can be constructive,” write a to-do list with explicit steps to help solve the problem.
If the answer is “no, my worries are not helping me,” use some of the techniques below to help deal with unproductive worries.
2. Keep an appointment with your worries
Write down your unproductive worries throughout the day and set aside a chunk of time, say 6 to 6:30 p.m., dedicated specifically to thinking about them. By 6, “you may find you’re not interested in those worries anymore,” Leahy says.
“Many people find that what they thought they needed an answer to earlier, they don’t care about later in the day.”
3. Learn to accept uncertainty
Worriers have a hard time accepting they can never have complete control in their lives. Leahy says that quietly repeating a worry for 20 minutes (“I may never fall asleep” or “I could lose my job”) reduces its power.
“Most people get bored by their worries and don’t even make it to 20 minutes,” he notes.
4. Be mindful
Mindfulness, a technique based on Buddhist teachings, preaches staying in the present moment and experiencing all emotions even when they are negative.
Leahy explains there are ways to be mindful throughout your day, while deeply immersed in your favorite song or in conversation with friends. Try living in the now by practicing deep breathing. Let your body relax and the tension in your muscles melt away.
5. Reframe your worry
What happens if a worry comes true? Could you survive losing your job or being dumped? Reframing how you evaluate disappointments in life can take the sting out of failure, Leahy says.
Create a positive spin by asking yourself what you have learned from your bad experiences. Make a list of things for which you are grateful.
6. Put worries in perspective
Examine past worries. Do you have a hard time remembering what they are?
Very likely this means that those worries never came true or that you were able to cope and forget, Leahy says.
Another great article, is this post by by Dr. Amy Johnson about letting go of control on Tiny Buddha. The article discusses ways to release the control through the art of surrender. Surrender = Complete acceptance of what is + Faith that all is well, even without my input.
You would think I go to a therapist, right? Ha ha. No. I just am very communicative with myself and the world (duh, that’s why I have a blog) and am cool with exploring the why… (yes, that probably falls in the overthinking bucket, I realize the irony in this). But ultimately, I know that the key to change in my life is to just change. And you know from my previous posts, I’m all about change here in 2013. So that is precisely what I am doing.
Obviously my overthinking ways and rules have gotten me nowhere thus far. Things are changing, I’m taking a different path, embracing uncertainty and trying out something new. Wish me luck in letting go, throwing out the rules and giving into reckless abandon!