“What if my new team members don’t accept me as their leader?”
“Was I hasty in rejecting the other offer?”
“How will I face management if the quarterly numbers drop again?”
“Did I share too much? Should I have been more careful?”
“If my health fails in my old age, how will I manage?”
Thousands of them, day after day
Mainly focusing on the unchangeable past or the uncertain future
Thoughts of rejection, loss, failure, judgement
Filling hearts with fear or anxiety
As an Executive Coach, I often hear Clients express their thoughts; one theme that emerges repeatedly is overthinking. i.e. overthinking about specific areas, mainly from fear or anxiety.
Overthinking can occur when you are
- Bored or not fully engaged
- Physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted
- Ruminating, caught in a negative thought loop
- Anxious about the future, lacking clarity on the next steps
- Feeling overwhelmed, rushed, stressed
- Craving certainty and control, uncomfortable with uncertainty
- Judging self and others, fearing failure, craving to be correct,
Overthinking may lead to
- More anxiety & fear – Paradoxically, the very thing you try to avoid grows.
- Confusion – Too many choices, paths, and options can make it harder to decide.
- Excessive caution
- Decision-making slows down, avoiding minimal risk, and projects don’t take off.
- Procrastination – In the absence of clarity, you will put things away for later.
- Lowered confidence – Every decision put off; every action procrastinated upon will likely impact your confidence.
- Difficulty in sleeping, fatigue – A mind filled with fear, worries and pending tasks will impact your sleep and cause you fatigue.
- Impulsive, irrational behaviours – Another consequence is being hasty, rushing through in frustration, flip-flopping, unable to decide and being unclear about what you want.
- Poor choices, decisions – The above will lead to imprudent decisions and consequences.
Have you experienced any of them?
Ten Powerful Approaches to address Overthinking
Recognize when you are overthinking
Awareness gives you the power to choose differently and thereby positively impact your decision.
Practise deep breaths, calm yourself down
A mind filled with fear, confusion or doubt will not work for you; begin by addressing your mind and body, so it is relaxed, calm and enabling a better quality of thinking.
Write/journal your troubling thoughts and feelings.
Running and rerunning multiple scenarios will consume precious oxygen and glucose in the brain and leave you feeling mentally tired, foggy and ineffective.
Instead, write and capture your thoughts; the very act will force you to think harder and arrive closer to the clarity you seek.
Look for factual evidence to support the anxiety, fear
More often than not, your assumptions, presumptions and pre-conceived notions will build stories in your mind that is far from the truth; by forcing yourself to look for evidence, you will recognize your assumptions and avoid decisions based on them.
Check if you are safe at the moment and express gratitude
If you are reading this, you are most likely to be safe at the moment, acknowledge that and move into the next movement with the belief that things will get better; you will figure out things and address them
Gratitude is powerful, and expressing gratitude often can help shift perspective and enhance your well being
Rest, sleep and indulge in fun.
A tired mind and body cannot solve big problems; focusing on resting, allowing rejuvenation and renourishment to take place,
Actively seeking fun will also help you reduce the impact of stress and confusion.
Plan your day, stay engaged, and be purposeful
Planning helps you anticipate likely roadblocks and challenges and clarifies your priorities, allowing you to use your time and energy effectively.
Attend to things that matter before they become urgent
Being proactive in your approach to your day and life has numerous benefits; you rarely get caught on the wrong foot, and there are lesser nasty surprises and stress points. Starting early also allows you to review your work, make adjustments and revisions, and enhance the outcome.
Practise letting go of hurt and baggage
Carrying grudges, vengeful feelings, and past hurts will weigh you down and deny you the opportunity to live a better life, practice acceptance, make peace with your pains, and hurts and keep looking ahead; that is the only place you can live, not in the past.
Reach out, ask for support, and feel heard
Everyone can do with some support, so explore working with a coach, counsellor or therapist. Doing so can help you get clear on your goals, understand your limiting beliefs and manage derailing behaviours.
“I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.”
– Mark Twain.
As responsibilities and commitments increase, so will the stress. Worrying will not change anything; on the contrary, it impacts your health.
Proactively build routines to stay engaged, mindful and energized.
Remember, all you have is the present moment; live joyfully in it.
How do you address overthinking? What else would you add to the list?
Points to Ponder
- What’s on my mind? What worries or stresses me?
- When do I tend to overthink?
- What happens to me when I overthink?
- What helps me stay present and in the moment?
- What one small step can I take today to avoid, reduce overthinking?