All of us go through many ups and downs in life. Problems are an inevitable part of the living experience. And thinking about them is an inevitable part of having problems.
People tend to overthink a lot, and it is quite bad for their mental health. Also, the more time we spend thinking about something, the less time there is left to act on the problem and implement a solution.
So, how do you stop yourself from overthinking? Buddhist philosophy says that you need to learn to let go. Here are 5 ways by which you can master that:
1. Focus on the present moment
Practicing mindfulness can be very useful in stopping yourself from overthinking. Our mind interacts with our reality via one of the two networks – the default network and direct experience network. The former kicks in action in moments of inactivity and makes you ponder or think of your experiences. The latter has to do with the experience you are feeling in the present moment, like touching a cold ice slab or perhaps slicing your finger while chopping vegetables. And both are mutually exclusive. So, every time you feel that the default network is working and you are overthinking things, switch gears to the other network by focusing on feeling the present moment.
2. Accepting all thoughts that come to you
When we try to monitor or banish certain thoughts, we only make more similar thoughts come to us. Instead of trying to completely erase that thought, if we would observe and accept it without any retaliation or reaction at all, we will be able to get rid of it for good.
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3. Change is the only constant
We often feel betrayed or at a loss of words when we experience some monumental change in our lives. But change is always taking place. The universe is in flux, in fact our own consciousness is in flux. Nothing is fixed, so then why do we fixate our happiness or content on things that will one day no longer be. The day we learn to let go of the past and focus only on the present moment, we will learn how to live.
4. Your thoughts are not you
We grow up believing and practicing that we are victims of our thoughts. That we will do whatever that comes to our mind because that’s what we want. But our thoughts are not the same as us. If you’d allow your thoughts to just pass by you, observing them and practicing acceptance, you’ll soon find that they come and go. When you don’t try to prod them or suppress them, they will eventually fade away. And with it you will learn that you are not your thoughts. They are a separate entity which can exist or cease to exist without you needing to interfere in any which way.
5. Re-frame your thoughts
Many times we entangle ourselves in our own minds, telling ourselves every way in which a thing can go wrong. We start thinking negatively and from there things just get worse. The only way to get out of this is to re-frame your thoughts. Make note of the negative words that you speak to yourself and what are the situations that are making you use them. Every time you catch yourself using negative language, command your mind to stop and think whether everything is really as bad as it seems. When you are lamenting about something that you can’t achieve, ask yourself what is stopping you from getting it and whether you can overcome these blockades. Re-frame this question so that the answers are more positive and hopeful. And soon you’d be feeling positive as well.