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6 Strategies To Reduce Overthinking

Written by: Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

“If you love yourself it doesn’t matter if other people don’t like you because you don’t need their approval to feel good about yourself” Lori Deschene


Oh, the number of days I have questioned, re-questioned and worried about my choices and decisions. I have a talent for overthinking. Well, I wish it was a talent.


Overthinking is more of a limitation for me. And I’ve been doing it for years.

Early On


When I was younger, I used to often question my choices and decisions. Even little ones. No matter how well I studied in class when taking a test, I’d question my choice of answers. But not just the choice, the reasoning, the question being asked, the words in the question too.


If I choose this answer does it mean I’m answering the question, or am I misunderstanding the intent of that word in the question and it really means something else that I should change my answer? And if this word has a different intent, will that impact the other questions this is related to?


Yeah taking tests was difficult at times. Over time that overthinking spread to other parts of my life as well. It didn’t help that my choices and decisions were always being questioned by adults in my life. This impacted my own confidence in my choices.


I slowly lost confidence in my own ability to make sound choices and decisions. Which would also bring up concerns for future choices and potential events.


My relationships always suffered too. Because I didn’t have the confidence in my own actions and decisions, it created a dynamic that any questioning of my choices by the other person would making me rethink my actions and thoughts. And make me feel that I should have chosen differently.


Because of this, I lost confidence in myself. I lost confidence and belief in my own abilities and thinking. I would defer to others on what to do or how we should complete a task. By doing so, I wasn’t having to put myself in the position of deciding, then doubting and questioning my own choices.


And I didn’t have to be anxious and worrisome that my choice will have negative consequences, which would then show how I shouldn’t make decisions. It was a bad cycle. But all this did was keep me out of making decisions, and increased my anxiety whenever I needed to make a choice.


My anxiety increased just in the potential of decision-making situations. And this only reduced my self-confidence in all aspects of my life and wrecked any positive self-belief I had. I became more of a shell of a person who was afraid to make a decision.


Taking Control


Making changes in my life helped me to begin to put myself in situations where I had to make decisions. I was no longer in certain relationships and I reduced negative interactions as much as I could. From there I started with just making small decisions and going with them. Such as deciding what I wanted to eat. Or what piece of clothing I wanted to wear or purchase.


I didn’t question the decision. I might reflect on if it was the best thing for me in that situation, for example, I didn’t grab a tank top to wear to a fancy evening dinner. But, I’d choose a style or color I was in the mood for. If a question or worry popped up, I quickly restated one or two reasons why it was the right decision for me and moved forward.


As bigger decisions arose, I would go through my reasoning as to my choices, and connect them with being the right choice for me. Not based on what others might do or think.


When purchasing a new car, I knew I could afford the one I wanted, and I liked the color and the special add-ons it came with. It was the right choice for me! It’s a Mini Cooper btw, in volcanic orange. I feel good about this decision every day!


When my thoughts became overwhelming and overthinking would occur, I would recognize that I was spiraling. I stopped what I was doing, and got myself out of the environment I was currently into clear my head. Maybe go for a walk.


And I would then look at each situation for what it was. And go through a few of the reasons I made that decision, but always reflecting on that it was right for me with what I knew at the time.


Some of my thoughts were on decisions or situations that hadn’t happened yet but I was already thinking 50 steps ahead through the process. Realizing this, I would remind myself that I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that scenario has not occurred, but I will make the best decisions at that time.


I learned to break my thoughts down into manageable steps for me so that I could clearly connect to each thought and reconnect and reassure myself of the decisions I made. My confidence increased over time as did my belief in my abilities. My anxiety also began to decrease.


These steps might help you as well when you are going through the spiral of overthinking:


6 Strategies to Reduce Overthinking

  • Be aware when your overthinking is occurring. Yes, it may not seem like much of a strategy, but recognizing your thoughts are running away from you is an important step in getting them under your control.

  • Tell yourself to stop the thoughts. This may seem odd, but telling yourself this can help refocus your mind. It gets you to break the running cycle.

  • Go through the process of steps you made for that decision. And your reasons. Don’t question your steps or reasons, but go back over to confirm that you did so with purpose and intent.

  • Tell yourself that you will stand with your choices and decisions because it was the right thing to do at that time and within your resources, situation or understanding.

  • Do not dwell on outcomes or on potential but unknown failures, but remind yourself that if you need to make adjustments, you will do so once you know how this decision works out.

  • Finally, tell yourself and even reward yourself for not just making the decision or choice, but for standing strong with it. For knowing you did the best you could and YOU made the decision.

These strategies are about you becoming more aware when overthinking occurs and the steps you’ll take to bring your thoughts back under your control.


A Trusted Connection


One other strategy you can use is if you have a friend or someone in your life you trust, talk with them first so they consent to being a sounding board and reflection of your decisions. You can tell them when you’re overthinking and let them know what your thoughts and the various reasons and follow-up concerns and worries. And they can then reflect back to you on the confident decision you made.


I do this. I’m thankful to have a couple of friends that I can share my overthinking with and they help me to confirm the choices that were right for me as well as remind me that the other worries are things that have not come to pass and I don’t have enough to go on as of now.


They help in re-confirming me, which helps in lowering my anxiety as I walk with them through my thoughts.


Yes, you may still have concerns and worries after the conversation, sometimes I do, but they should be lighter and fewer. This is never easy and never a quick solution.


Building Self-Belief


Reducing your overthinking takes time. And you will have to pause or stop what you’re doing so you can focus and stop the spiraling thoughts. But it will get easier each time. Yes, it doesn’t go away, at least not right away. It may be in time though.


The main goal is to become not just more comfortable with your choices and decision, but more confident in yourself and in your belief in yourself.


As you reduce the overthinking and follow these steps, you will build up your self-confidence and self-belief. That is the true goal you want to achieve.


Follow me on Instagram, and visit my website for more info!


 

Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Victor Mosconi, is a PhD Candidate in Psychology, with a Master’s in Psychology of Leadership Development and Coaching, a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and founder of Imposter Solution Coach. Through his life-long experience with imposter syndrome, his psychology background, and coaching skills, Victor specializes in supporting up-and-coming women leaders and entrepreneurs in overcoming their self-doubt and imposter thoughts to develop a mindset of self-appreciation and strong self-belief. Take his quiz on his website and discover what level of impostor syndrome you experience.


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