Stop overthinking today!
In a recent Instastory, I have asked you what would you like to read about in the next blog post and 82% of you decided that we are going to talk about overthinking.
Every single person will experience it at some point in their life and for most of them, it's not a big deal. After a while, they are able to leave unwanted thoughts behind and simply move on. The trouble starts when overthinking becomes an annoying habit that takes away joy from our lives. In serious cases, it might be a symptom of anxiety or depression.
Overthinking causes symptoms both in our mind and body. Obvious mental signs are:
- Analysing everything over and over again
- Thinking you should have said/behaved in a different way in social situations
- Mentally “beating” yourself up because of unimportant situations that happened in the past.
- Wondering what other people might be thinking after our allegedly “silly” behaviour
- Imagining different scenarios of how we should have acted and getting upset with ourselves that we didn’t act in the “right” way
- Feeling anxious or even depressed because we can’t behave in the “right” way.
- Analysing not just ours, but also behaviours of others - they way they were looking at us or smiling and looking for hidden, usually negative connotations behind it.
Physically overthinking might lead us to
- Sleeping problems
- Inability to relax / rest = tiredness
- Lack of focus on things that are happening here and now
- High blood pressure / too strong or irregular heartbeat
- Breathing difficulties
- Head & tummy aches
That’s a pretty serious looking list, isn’t it?
I used to be one of those worriers, who struggled to fall asleep because of the way someone looked at me during social interactions. Or even better - because while speaking in English (which is my second language) I made obvious mistakes. Oh gosh, I would beat myself over it for ages, thinking that people might secretly feel pity for me and my funny accent.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I managed to overcome this fear and now I’m confident in speaking English to hundreds of people who watch my Instastory. Have I stopped making mistakes? No! Do I care? No, as well! And guess what - I haven’t received a SINGLE rude or mocking message or comment from anyone.
There is a good reason why no one came up with anything negative and I’ll share it with you later in this text...
First let me tell you what helped me to free myself from this mental prison that every overthinking person puts themselves into... yes, you guessed it :) Yoga! To be more specific - yoga & Buddhist philosophy.
One of the most important things I have learned from it is that everything is relative, because each of us sees things through the prism of our own thoughts, believes and experiences.
I’m sure you know the example with the glass of water: for one person it is half empty, for another half full, someone might even be arguing the amount of water in the glass. It all depends on our mental state, how we see the world if we are consciously choosing to see the good or follow the easy way of moaning and criticizing.
So the first lesson for you is that the situation you keep going on and on in your head is different for the parties taking part in the interaction. Something that really bothers you might have been an unimportant episode forgotten the second they stopped talking to you.
Another important thing I have learned from yoga & Buddhist philosophy is that because we see the world through our own prism, most people become very egocentric and they actually don’t care that much about others. Did you said something silly? So what? It’s quite possible that other parties were more concerned with what they were saying and not even paying that much attention to what you have said or did.
The second lesson is: people don’t actually care that much about you and they don’t remember everything you said or did, because they are too focused on themselves.
Of course, there are times when you seriously do something wrong, say something silly or behave in an unprofessional manner. In that case, all you can do is to apologize if needed and move on... Remember: in yoga, we practice living here and now. Attaching ourselves to either past or future is a source of suffering. If you haven’t got a chance - read my blog post about non-attachment. I explain there in depth why detachment is one if the best thing you can learn in life. "Letting go: what does it truly means?" <~ click to read.
Overthinking is nothing else that attaching ourselves to past events. I know it’s hard, but let go of anything that bothers you that you cannot change. Be strict with yourself and anytime those thoughts return, block them and create a mantra that will be your mental shield.
“I cannot change it, so I let it go”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, I know better know and next time my choice will be better”
“One mistake doesn’t define my life”
“What happened in the past, belong to past, I have moved on.”
“Whatever happened it was a great lesson, now I am wiser.”
"Other people opinions don't define who I am"
Those are just suggestions. Create your own mantra and keep repeating it until it becomes your truth.
Above I mentioned how much stress was caused by the fact that my English isn’t perfect. Thanks to yoga & Buddhist philosophy I understood that I am the only one person who actually paid that much attention to every word I spoke. And if there is something to worry about is not my English, but how egocentric I used to be.
Understanding it helped me not only to stop overthinking but also be more compassionate and at least try to put myself in other's shoes before I judge them or start believing that they are judging me...
What do you think about the post? Are you going to use yoga and Buddhist philosophy to stop yourself from overthinking? Let me know in the comments!