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The Art of Overthinking

By Amarachukwu Okpunobi

The stage of youthfulness in one’s life is filled with so many thoughts and questions that always seem unanswerable. These leaves the person with so much anxiety of what they will become and what they won’t be. Most times, after thinking the past and future through, people give up on their life and their reason to live.

This week, let’s talk about overthinking and how it endangers us. Below is an excerpt from The Art of Overthinking written by Jenna. Read on…

“Overthinking is the art of creating problems that weren’t even there.”

The truth is: Overthinking causes mental distress.

When people say they “overthink” they mean that they are fixated on something, they have tunnel vision on, an idea or problem, thinking about things out of their control and letting all of it interrupt their internal serenity. Everyone does it at least once in their lives.

Thinking is a gift, but not many people use it for their own benefit.

Dissecting isn’t the same, as overthinking. When you dissect, you analyze every small detail to find a solution or to arrive at the truth. But when you overthink, you find yourself stuck in the same place, not making any progress. It means dwelling on the problem, rather than solving it. Sounds useless, doesn’t it?

Two common forms of overthinking are: about the past; and about the future.

The Past

We might recall experiences obsessively, either happy or sad ones, in order to live them again. Doing that is fine in healthy amounts, but if you obsess over it… You need help. We might regret choices we have made, things we have said, or haven’t said.

But we all know we can’t change the past. Instead of avoiding it, you should accept it and instead of obsessing over it you can learn something from it then move on.

Try not to think of how it made you feel  but what you can take from it and do or not do in the future in a similar situation. We learn from mistakes. You shouldn’t cause yourself to suffer all over again after an embarrassing or painful circumstance. The past is to be learned from, not lived in.

Avoiding it is one way. You can engross yourself in music, a TV show or a book. Occupy yourself with anything you enjoy. That’s the lazy way.

If you want to deal with it in depth and stop it from tormenting you, then, you need to do it actively. You could write your thoughts down, the past experiences you can’t stop thinking about. Try to remember them in full detail, as much as you can.

Describe them intensely. Prolonged exposure is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that focuses on facing trauma-related memories rather than avoiding them. It helps ease the pain of some memories, even stop you from thinking about them as often.

Maybe you might need to change your perspective. Stop looking at everything that makes you feel down, but consider every aspect: all that is good, bad, neutral and all in between.

Meditation, relaxation, mindfulness, yoga help too. Create a rough schedule of what time of the day and for how long you want to do it. Even 10 minutes is enough.

Therapy is something that could help if none of the things above have.

It’s important to remind yourself of what you can and cannot control. When we are filled with anxiety, it’s just us fretting over the things that we cannot control. People might start expecting either positive or negative things to happen, and in both cases it can do damage to us.

Let me explain: if you have high expectations and don’t think of what can go wrong, you are threatening your own mood in the case something does go wrong. People with anger issues usually have them because of their incredibly high standards and expectations from people and life, and when we get angry it’s from the same reason: It didn’t go as we anticipated it to. On the other hand, if you think that everything will go badly, it’s simply you being pessimistic which can make you feel gloomy, thus it can impact the atmosphere, your perspective, your emotions and the emotions of people around you.

The Future

So, be open to anything that can happen. The only thing we can be certain about is that we can’t be certain about anything. Many things are out of your control. Thinking about it won’t do anything but make you anxious and increase the chances of negative situations arising.

People are able to adapt to situations, but we sabotage our own ability to do so by limiting the range of possibilities we think about, or the opposite: think about the uncertainty in an unhealthy way that actually obstructs our decision making. Maybe not thinking at all is better at this point. Each time we worry, are stressed, feel down or become angered, we are slowly killing ourselves, shortening our life span; so, I think it’s a good idea to do that less.

What to do instead: problem solve, analyze, self reflect, introspect and retrospect with a detached and rational approach. Ask yourself: “Is feeling like this worth it?”. Train yourself to believe that you can improvise and adapt. Keep in mind the abundance of possibilities but don’t go in detail and don’t fixate on it but rather fill your mind with whatever interests you or relaxes you.

Take note of what triggers your overthinking, and what it’s usually about. That will help you think of a way to stop, whether by avoiding the trigger or dealing with it directly.

POEM

Title: Overthinking Killed The Teenager

Not quite sure yet

What I want to be

But so much pressure

Just to get my degree

 

I’m young and free

Even crazy and wild

Don’t you even dare

To treat me like a child

 

Though I can’t help but think

Where will I be in 10 years?

Will I finally have courage,

to face my worst fears?

 

Will I still have my boyfriend,

who I’ve been with?

Do high school sweethearts

exist, or is that just a myth?

 

Should I go get drunk,

this weekend with my friends?

I got invited to another party

The fun never ends

 

Wait I’m kind of insecure

About my body and weight

Why am I still awake?

It’s getting pretty late

 

Yet I still haven’t started

Any of my homework

Who cares anyway though

I mean my teacher’s a ****

 

I’m under so much pressure

Because I’ve got to graduate

But you try being a teenager

In a world filled with hate

Overthinking killed the teenager

And that teenager is I

Overthinking every thought

And I don’t know *why