Has your mind ever been ruminated with "What if" thoughts? What if your grades do not meet your expectations, or you do not get into your desired university, or you are not good enough at all? What if an asteroid hits your hometown, and you have nowhere to go? Wait that is a little too much. Frankly, that is what overthinking does to your mind – it thrusts you into imagining worst-case scenarios and investing your emotions as if such scenes are to happen anytime. Aside from "What if" thoughts, do you frequently revisit your past mistakes and fret over your current decisions? You want to grasp as much as certainty and control in your life, so you start to question and doubt every turn you make? If yes, you are a fellow overthinker (Just like myself).
Of course, we must live life with a certain degree of worry, caution, and skepticism. However, life is not a math problem, so we cannot estimate and calculate every twist and turn. Life swerves us in random directions, and we just have to learn to re-center our designated routes and put ourselves back on track. Hence, it is futile to fuss about things that we have little control over. If a worst-case scenario is bound to happen, it will occur whether or not we overthink. If a miracle is to save the day, it will bless us even when we least expect it.
In a sense, overthinking is an extreme sport – you cycle through a persistent loop of negative thoughts that no one but yourself generates. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? The problem is, you cannot stop it because it has become a part of your mentality, or a habit – your cognitive system involuntarily causes you to overthink whenever you sense an adverse situation. It happens to me as well; I become lost in my ruminations and put myself through unnecessary stress without realizing it. Only when I notice my nibbled fingernails (Nail biting is a compulsive "nervous habit."), I clap back into reality and try to shake off the worrisome thoughts (It is working progress though.)
To sum up, overthinking is mentally draining as it imposes a negative impact on our mental health. I am sure everyone knows and agrees with it. However, we are responsible for allowing the habit of overthinking to turn into a form of self-destruction. We are the only ones who can stop all those critical commentaries running inside our heads that pick apart on our appearances, actions, and decisions and dwell as an invisible judge. We judge and criticize ourselves before anyone can, as if we can read people's minds, or we are always anticipating something negative. In the end, it comes down to no one but us. How do we stop fretting about a detrimental future that might or might not come? How do we terminate our pressing concerns over people's impressions of us? How do we get rid of the invisible judge within us? No one but us can stop it.
First of all, we need to change the narrative inside our heads –accept that we don't have any control over the future. Well, we can at least try to re-position it in the direction that leads to our desired destination, but we have no control over the circumstances that take place in the future. I mean, who would have thought that there would be a global pandemic in 2020? Look at all the plans and events being canceled, postponed, and improvised because of it. The future will always be vague so, whether we agonize over it or not, we can neither predict it nor change the outcome.
Secondly, overthinking is not to be mistaken for problem-solving or preparation. The other two produce a useful output in overcoming a situation. Overthinking, on the other hand, will only give us a pestering headache, lack of rational thinking, anxiety and stress, loss of appetite (in some cases), stress eating, and ugly fingernails (for those who bite their nails when anxious). Anyway, my point is that overthinking does us no good except put us in a miserable state of mind. Therefore, every time we are about to overthink or worry, we should remind ourselves that it has no use in adjusting the outcome of the situation. Get rid of "What if" thoughts and replace them with, "I will find a way to make things work." When there is a will, there is a way, isn't it?
After all, it is human nature to think and worry; there is no way to eradicate it. Nevertheless, do not let your worries become excessive and as effortless as breathing. You can either turn to your family and friends for emotional support or get professional help from a therapist. Or, you can distract yourselves by investing your focus on exercising, meditating, writing journals, reading, so on. Use whichever way that eases your mind, but do not trap yourselves in an endless worry cycle. Think of the problem as a colossal wave approaching you as you stand by the store. Instead of running away from it, or being afraid of it, stay relaxed and intact as the wave gradually diminishes its steepness, steadily crawls towards the shore, and fades away in the end as swash, drenching your feet on the sand.
Oppong, T. (2019, November 16). Psychologists Explain How To Stop Overthinking Everything. Retrieved from Kaizen Habits: https://medium.com/kaizen-habits/psychologists-explain-how-to-stop-overthinking-everything-e527962a393
Ries, J. (2019, November 21). Here's What Happens To Your Body When You Overthink. Retrieved from Huffpost: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/overthinking-effects_l_5dd2bd67e4b0d2e79f90fe1b