‘Overthinking’ also known as ‘Rumination’ is the simple process of thinking or brooding over certain situations in our life. It is a process that constantly engages our mind to think, to analyze and replay the simplest of situations. This process is a ‘repetitive mechanism’ used by our mind to cause worry and anxiety.
Overthinking is a phase in everyone’s life, when we consciously or unconsciously tend to dwell irrationally only on the negative aspects of our life. It is this constant tug-of-war situation between the depressing or even embarrassing events that happened in our past versus the anxiety and the feeling of uncertainty that we have regarding our future. An ‘overthinker’ in a situation of rumination feels helpless and vulnerable about their reality, the present. In a way, overthinking prevents us from taking action and having control over the decisions concerning our present. It ultimately puts us in a vicious cycle of thinking over and over and again.
We all had our share of embarrassing and depressing moments in our life. There have been numerous times when we have been completely lost in our thoughts, feeling hollow inside or when we have thought deeply about the decisions that we made in our life. This might have affected us in a bad way and also forced our mind to overthink. Factors such as fear, depression, anxiety, stress, feeling guilty or regretting, or even societal expectations and pressure can degrade our mind.
From an early age, there is a lot of pressure that we go through regarding the choices that we have to make in our life. And if we fail to meet those expectations, we are constantly criticized and judged. For instance, a student preparing for the twelfth board exams goes through a lot of mental and emotional pressure, that his/her mind instills a fear of doubt and failure. They are constantly brooding over questions such as, “What if I don’t score well?”, “Will I be able to take admission for my desired course?” or “What if I fail in my exams?”. The Mind accumulates all the negative thoughts about exams and combines it with the fear of failure. This can lead to excessive overthinking in the mind of the student that ultimately, they are afraid of failure.
Feeling guilty and regretting over the decisions that we made in our life also contributes to overthinking. We constantly analyze but at the same time criticize ourselves and fill our wind with “What if?”. Therefore, it’s our mind that puts all these negative images into our head and leads us to overthink. A very traumatic event from our past is also responsible for overthinking. The sudden loss of someone or even a failed relationship/friendship can trigger our mind to overthink. When we think of our past, our mind ruminates through all the unpleasant events that lead to trauma. Therefore, it is extremely important to distract our mind from overthinking.
The human mind has a very complex yet fascinating structure. It controls all our thoughts, our perceptions, our consciousness and our memories. Even though it is a very powerful organ, it is capable of destruction and can be dangerous. Overthinking is definitely an important ‘component’ and one of the major symptoms of an anxious and depressed mind.
Our mind is the main culprit behind overthinking. It has the greatest ability to ‘sabotage’ the positivity and hopefulness in this very situation. It has the power to dominate our heart and thus gain control over our conscience. There erupts a dilemma between our heart, the epitome of sound decision and our mind that radiates skepticism and negativity. However, in contrast to believing our heart, we are rather attracted to our mind. This is the power that our mind exerts over heart and tricks us into believing it’s ‘repetitive mechanism’. As rightly said by Leah Braemel, “Don’t overthink things. Sometimes you can convince your head not to listen to your heart. Those are decisions you regret for the rest of your life.” Hence our mind being ‘the saboteur’ starts flooding our thoughts with negativity. It starts reeling all the unpleasant memories and dreadful decisions..
The very essential fact that we do not realize in a phase of overthinking is about our present. It makes us forget our reality. The mind ruminates our thoughts in such a manner that it may even lead to existential crisis. We tend to question ourselves, our worth and our existence. Therefore, it is necessary that we follow the rhythm of our heart, the right conscience rather than the mind. If we are able to overpower our mind, then gaining control over our overthinking thoughts is possible to an extent.
As emphasized earlier, it is important to gain control over our mind. Overthinking too has its own pros and cons. The pros being overthinking and constant rumination, prepares us for every kind of possibilities that we create in our mind. We are simultaneously prepared for the good as well as the worst. It provides more time to understand and analyze our thoughts. It gives us a chance to reflect on our decisions and act accordingly. However, quite evidently, overthinking also leads to depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks.
The constant uncertainty and negativity related to overthinking may also lead to fear. It can badly affect our confidence and makes us unprepared to think about our reality. Overthinking makes us doubt our decision and thus affects our mental well-being. It distracts us from focusing on our present and makes us brood over our past traumatic events. It also makes us physically inactive, drains our energy and wreaks havoc on our emotional health.
There are numerous simple ways to distract our mind from overthinking. Imagine, if we could have utilized the time we spend overthinking about futile situations into doing something that could have made us happier and at peace. But to make our mind understand this, is a bit difficult but not impossible. We can gain control over our mind by realizing our present and coming to terms with it.
We can do simple breathing exercises to calm our mind. Running, meditation and even cycling can help us to divert our thoughts and engage our mind in positivity. Writing about our feelings, while we overthink is another therapeutic way to gain control over our mind. It is also important that we never regret the decisions that we had made in our life. We have to understand that those decisions were for our betterment and not for our destruction. Thus focus more on our present and acknowledge our reality. Last but not the least, having faith in our abilities and analyzing our emotions is another way to de-stress and relax our mind.
We have now realized the fact that, though overthinking maybe a boon in certain situations, it can at the same time drastically affect our mental health. It can affect our thought process and confines us in a place where we are unable to decide anything or develop a new perspective. It can complicate the simplest of tasks and can make us feel stuck or helpless. Therefore, being optimistic and having a positive attitude in our life is extremely important. We should take out time to recognize, acknowledge and analyze our emotions. It is important to prioritize ourselves and our needs and live in the present rather than dwelling on our past. We need to be grateful and avoid situations that can affect us negatively. So, let’s strive to survive every hurdle that comes in our way and have a positive attitude towards our life.