Maintaining a positive attitude is a goal that we all share, however sometimes slipping backwards into patterns of negative thinking can happen to anyone and bring problems into our everyday lives. Worrying about the many stressors that we deal with every day, or even dwelling on mistakes of the past, can cause us to worry even more about the future. Over-analyzing every detail can become an obsession. Feeling anxious about our past, present or future can make it difficult to have a positive attitude and make us miserable as we obsess about bad things that have occurred or could happen.
You are a ruminator in psychologists’ terminology if you find yourself having this problem often. You could also be an over-thinker and these actions could hurt your overall health. According to psychologists’ findings, being an over-thinker or ruminator can have an effect on your performance, leading to depression and anxiety. Women are the most likely to suffer from this problem.
A number of over-thinkers tend to be smart, nice, caring individuals. They care a great deal for their family and friends and value all of their relationships, but frequently end up pushing away those that they worry about and need simply due to the fact that they become negative, depressed, anxious and obsessing, making them difficult to deal with. Unfortunately there isn’t a switch in their brain that they can flip on and off, but instead a pattern of behavior that they need to recover from, which demands a certain level of dedication on their part.
Here are some key methods, based upon personal experience and psychological research, for finding some peace by living in the present and putting a stop to the practice of over-thinking:
1) Accepting the Problem
This is the first step. Acknowledge the problem. When being anxious regarding the future keeps you from getting enjoyment from the present, then you have a problem with over-thinking. Stop denying it and, if necessary, ask those close to you if you’re not sure you have this problem.
2) Forgiving Yourself
After you admit to the problem, forgive yourself. Over-thinking can be a natural tendency because our brains are simply hardwired that way. When a bad event occurs, chances are you may see connections between every bad event in your life. The more often this occurs, the greater the chance that you will fall into a pattern of over-thinking regarding the future. But, once you accept the problem and forgive yourself, you can start working on solving the problem as a whole.
3) Talking Less
Numerous over-thinkers, and women especially, tend to want to talk about it when they feel worried and stressed. Sometimes this can help, but usually it actually makes matters worse. By doing so, you could get yourself worked up, as well as more agitated and fraught with negativity, succeeding only in getting more upset than prior to talking it out. In addition, co-rumination could lead to more severe levels of negativity and an increase in cortisol, which is a stress hormone. A better alternative could be to write down your negative feelings in order to get them off your mind, which is called free-association journaling.
4) Breathing More
Breaking this pattern begins with breathing, which calms and relaxes you, as well as grounding you to Mother Earth and connecting you to the present. Since most people end up becoming frantic when our minds begin racing toward that bad place, it’s important to completely relax our minds and bodies. So, try this breathing technique. Lie down and inhale deeply through your nose in two-second intervals. Then exhale through your mouth for four seconds. This can increase CO2 to your bloodstream while calming and relaxing the response by your adrenal system. Continue for 10 minutes or until you succeed in slowing down your excessive thinking.
5) Getting Busy
In place of talking and after trying breathing, try letting that energy out by doing something physical. Running, walking, swimming, yoga, sports, or playing with the kids or a pet can help because they pull you away from your over-thinking patterns. Besides, any activity that stimulates your brain and keeps you engrossed can help you to redirect those thought patterns. Other activities that may not be as physical, but are nonetheless engrossing, can also help, including playing games, starting a new hobby, crafting, painting, drawing, sewing, jewelry-making, or learning a new language. Who knows, this could uncover some hidden talents that you were unaware of, a new career, or a chance for meeting new people.
6) Practicing Mindfulness
Struggling at living in the present is one of the biggest issues for over-thinkers. Practicing mindfulness, which is a type of meditation, will help you with focusing on the present, letting go of the past and setting aside any worries about the future. Through mindfulness, you can let go of the negative feelings and clear your mind. Techniques like Transcendental Meditation are very helpful and, if you need help with this, you could get counseling from someone who is practiced in cognitive therapy that is based on mindfulness.
7) Surrendering to the Universe
Worry is a form of attempting to succeed in controlling life’s flow, like wanting everything to occur in some specific way. The reality is that we all have minimal control over the events in our lives from a conscious POV. We may think that the practice of worrying can have a direct impact on the outcome of a situation, but it doesn’t. The universe has been around much longer than we have and it is so much wiser, so we can release our perceived control and just surrender ourselves in trust and love, believing that the universe will take care of the rest. It’s basically going with the flow rather than swimming against it. It can impart peace, since it signifies that you are amenable to trusting that all will work out as it should. You are trusting that you are right where you should be and all good things will happen at the proper time.
8) Remembering that Your Thoughts are Creating Your Reality
In spite of our inability to control everything in our lives using the conscious mind, our thoughts do play a part in creating the reality that is our lives. Unfortunately, what this means to over-thinkers is that the more you worry about a specific thing, the more you bring it into your life. Worry attracts more worry. Being mindful about your thoughts is crucial because they possess more power than you may think. Fearing the loss of your job could actually increase your chances of losing it. The same goes for your health. Think positive thoughts about it and you’ll draw positive health to yourself. Watching the online series “Spirit Science/Episode 1” is a good tool for learning about this theory.
Using these tools for stopping the practice of over-thinking and being at peace in the present can help you to use your feelings and thoughts for creating your better life. Being mindful can lead to a life free of negativity and worry, so make the right choice and change your life.
By: Gale Robinson