I'd like to talk a little about Overthinking, is this something you find yourself doing and if so how does it effect your life?
This article is coming from my own personal experiences and what I find helps/hinders my personal life and also my working life.
Before I even get started, its fair to say that so many counsellors will frown upon me for sharing my own life, my experiences, my personal struggles, my feelings and emotions etc as there is a belief that clients should not know much at all about their counsellors.
Well tough shit as I will be me, the real me and not an edited version of me, so fuck em.
Even this highlights the issue Overthinkers can face as it ties you up, you go round and round in your head, thinking this and thinking that and then this and that and that and this, it just doesn't stop, even when others are talking to you, you try and listen however your thoughts are elsewhere. I genuinely have about 6 thoughts at once at any given time and it most certainly can be a curse, especially when one thought is going around and around and your questioning every single detail about that thought in order to make a decision.
Example of this is when I was studying to become a counsellor, I was listening to the stereotypical norms as what a "counsellor" looks like, how they act, how they behave, etc and I tried so hard to fit into that box, and it simply didn't work. I was rigid, worrying about everything I did and every word I said, I then questioned everything I did, was it wrong, what could I have done, what should I have done, what should I wear, how should I have my hair, it just never stopped. Until I stopped it.
Sometimes the worst place you can be,
is in your own head.
Social media also makes an overthinker think even more about stuff that they may not of even considered in the first place. I personally think that the internet and especially social media has made mental health worse especially for an over thinker, it really can be an absolute curse, its physically and emotionally draining and can overwhelm you to a point of having a breakdown, I know this as it did this very thing to me, more than once.
Until I stopped it.
My experience of people who are over thinkers are that those people are people who really care about others, they love hard and they put others before themselves, and yet the very way I manage my over thinking is to try and give less of a shit and be more selfish. Now that sounds like a negative right? Well consider how you are suppose to be there for others if you don't take care of yourself first. I should at this point mention that my 6 thoughts at once go to just one when I am doing something I am passionate about, something that "really" has my interest, and it goes without saying that my passion is Mental health, the sub-conscious mind and counselling, an example of which is when going to the shop I have to write down a list if I am wanting more than three things as I simply don't remember the fourth (due to thinking of other things) however when I am counselling a client may talk about whatever they want to talk about for an hour and I remember every word of which is proven when I summarise the session.
Regardless of overthinking, one thing is for sure and that is at some point action is required, you can think and think and over think but all you are doing is considering all the information you have available to you, weighing up the pros and cons and then ultimately you need to make a decision. Making decisions for an overthinker can be a very scary thing as what if its wrong, what if you haven't considered everything, what if this what if that and you get absolutely nowhere other then tying yourself into knots, worried, stressed and anxious. Sure for every action there must be a reaction, a consequence to your actions however as long as you have considered the options and you have made an informed well thought-out decision then that's ok, right?
So how do I get to the point of action?
I ponder for a bit (sounds better than over think), I might do some mindless things such like cleaning the house, or distract my thoughts by playing mindless games such like Candy Crush or Call of Duty are my preferred choices, or I'll walk the dogs or go to the gym (exercise like running and weights works well for thinking). I might even go and have a tab (and yes I know I shouldn't smoke but no ones perfect).
We all have our own individual ways of processing our thoughts and that's totally ok, however at some point we need to STOP the overthinking and if we STILL cant just forget about whatever it was we are thinking about after you have applied your process then action must be taken and its when we take action that the thought process enters the real world and something we can process easier.
Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
- Arthur Ashe
Action, how do I get take it?
After I have gone through my process I then decide to take action, and the irony is behind this sudden shift is very little to no though at all, it just suddenly dawns on me that I need to do "Something", much like this article, I knew I had to write an article and couldn't decide what I was going to write about, therefore I wrote about that in itself, the over thinking, the over thinker. "Don't get it right, get it written".
Now another thing I've heard therapists not be keen on is the writing of lists and yet it is writing lists that actually help my process. My head will just bounce about and repeat itself over and over again until such time that I stop it and how I stop it is to make a list.
If its an array of thoughts that I feel need my attention but I don't have time at that time due to being at work for example then I quickly add it to my list(s). I use my iPhone for this process, I have lists for my dogs, the house, personal, my van and work. This just makes things tidier, I then give each item on my list a priority (low or high), now this instantly releases that thought (the item) and it leaves my head because my head knows and understands that I will visit my list and act accordingly.
Often is the case that items on that list when I look at them no longer are a priority in my life and I simply delete it. Now consider for a second here, how much time you can waste in your life thinking about something that you might actually delete later due to it not being an issue later on in your life (don't consider it for too long).
When I really drill down on one thought I find a pros and cons list can help me to make my decision as this gets the thought externalised and out of my head, it becomes real by going onto paper, and I need to physically put it down be that digitally or on paper otherwise I repeat the same shit and it doesn't stop the overthinking. Now I'm sure we all have done a Pros and Cons list at some point in our lives and yet we don't really consider them further on in life, I still have to remind myself to do this as from experience it works for me. Now the beauty of a pros and cons list is it physically shows you what would be the best action to take and allows for you to make an informed decision and if its still wrong then its wrong but at least you haven't just stood still, at least you've made a decision and gone with it, every leader has to make a decision and most the time they will just make it and adjust accordingly simply because a decision needs to be made.
Another way I manage to stop my thoughts owning life is believing in a couple of "mottos" I've came across along the way...
Everything Happens for a Reason.
What Will be Will be.
So whatever method or process you do, you just do you and fuck everyone else's concept, do what works for you, don't even consider others at this point as that's just yet another thing to think about and you haven't got the head space.
Make mistakes, mistakes are a good thing as mistakes teach us, so there not even mistakes if you think about it, there life lessons for you to learn from and be the best you, you can be.