Overthinking doesn't sound so bad on the surface. Thinking is a good thing, right?
But here’s the truth: Overthinking can cause serious problems for you personally and in your business. It leaves you with cloudy judgment, high stress levels, and stuck inside your own mind, unable to move forward.
Does this sound like you? If so, you are not alone. Overthinking can quickly create a “mental hell” in your mind – like a mental game of whack-a-mole – ruminating over the “what ifs” and “why did I’s” in your head.
As a chronic overthinker myself, I had to put a stop to the nights laying in bed, stuck ruminating over my own thoughts. It was time to turn overthinking on its head and use this struggle as a strength.
If you’re resonating with this, read on to discover the framework I’ve learned over the last few years to reframe your thoughts, regain control of your stress levels, and turn overthinking into a strength, moving from a place of doubt to domination!
Let’s start at the beginning. What is overthinking anyways?
When you dwell on and think about the same thought over and over again, on repeat, you are overthinking. It totally paralyzes your mind, resulting in cloudy judgment and high stress levels, and leaves you stuck on negative, worst case scenarios. Overthinking can even lead to chronic anxiety or depression.
For overthinkers, these thought patterns can spiral out of control. The default fixation on the negative can keep you stuck in fear and in “analysis paralysis.” And as the high achieving business owner that you are, you don't have time for that!
Now that you have a working definition of overthinking, how can you overcome the spiral? This framework was created to help turn overthinking on its head. Walk through these questions to reframe your thoughts and stop a spiral in its tracks.
Identify the problem you are facing. If you don’t know the problem, you can’t find a solution.
Think about the information you have. Is anything missing? Do you have the whole picture?
Ask yourself if the thoughts you’re having are true based on the information you’ve gathered.
With the information, think and reflect on how it will affect you.
Will this information affect others? How so?
This question is the kicker for me – can you do anything about the outcome? Or is it outside of your control? If you can’t change it, then free your mind from thinking about it. I know this is way easier said than done, and it takes practice!
If you can impact the outcome, what can you do?
If this feels like familiar territory for you, here are 7 additional ideas to help you free yourself from overthinking – and maybe even figure out how to turn overthinking into a strength.
Before you can begin to address or cope with your habit of overthinking, you need to learn to be aware of it when it's happening. Any time you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed and anxious, take a step back and look at the situation. How are you responding? In that moment, awareness is the first step to make a change in your thought patterns.
In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion – fear. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it's easy to become paralyzed. Next time you sense that you are starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front. Flip the narrative!
To stop overthinking, you have to take action. To halt your negative spiraling thoughts, use deep breathing. I like to use what is called the square breathing pattern, also called box breathing. Come up with a mantra you will say out loud to yourself. When I get a phone call from my child’s school, I have a new mantra I say rather than assuming the worst negative scenario.
It's easy to make things bigger and more negative than they actually need to be. The next time you catch yourself making a mountain out of a molehill, ask yourself how much it will matter in five years. Or, for that matter, next month. Asking yourself about the time frame will help give you the perspective you need.
This is a big one for me. For those who are waiting for perfection, stop waiting right now. Being ambitious is a great quality to have, but aiming for perfection is unrealistic, impractical, and debilitating. Imperfect action is better than no action.
All we have is the present moment – no one can predict what the future holds. If you spend the present moment worrying about the future, you are robbing yourself of your time now. Spend that time on things that give you joy!
You can’t control if your dryer goes out or what colleges accept your child as a student. You can, however, control your response when these situations do arise. More times than not, you can’t control the thing you are overthinking and worried about. So, release it from your mind!
How do you put out a fire? You remove the fuel. The same applies for overthinking.
You are the energy source to your own overthinking! It’s completely normal to place ourselves at the center of any problem we face, especially as women and business owners. For overthinkers, though, this can spiral out of control and our default fixation can keep us stuck in fear. The key is to stop the spiral of thoughts before they turn into feelings. If we can be disciplined with our thought patterns, we can conquer this battle of overthinking.
Let’s continue this conversation about overthinking as a female fit biz owner — I know I’m not the only one struggling with this. Send me a DM on Instagram – I would love to hear from you and talk about this battle against overthinking. You are not alone, friends!