I used to overthink all the time. 

Even in simple things, like food. 

I’d plan to eat fish for dinner (because it’s healthy and delicious). An hour later I’d think: Wait, how about chicken, it would be faster, and also delicious. 

I don’t need to tell you how crippling overthinking can get.

It was rotting my life from within. I would procrastinate for years!

Everything changed when I realized: nobody was going to help me. Nobody was going to make decisions for me. 

It was my life and I was the captain of this ship.

After doing some research I realized that overthinking is a symptom of a problem, not a problem in and of itself. 

Just like fever is a symptom of an infection. Overthinking means spending too much time thinking about something that does not need so much attention. It can interfere with your productivity, happiness, and well-being.

There are several possible problems that cause overthinking.

What makes you overthink

Bad problem-solving skills 

You may not know how to approach a problem effectively, or you may get stuck in a loop of analyzing and reanalyzing the same issue without finding a solution. This can make you feel frustrated, anxious, and helpless. 

For example, you may overthink about why you failed an exam, instead of focusing on how to improve your study habits for the next one.

Low self-esteem and self-image

You may doubt yourself and your abilities, or you may have a negative view of yourself and your situation. You may worry about what others think of you, or you may compare yourself to others unfavorably. This can make you feel insecure, inadequate, and unhappy. 

For example, you may overthink about how you look, instead of appreciating your unique beauty and personality.

Poor decision-making skills

You may have difficulty making choices, or you may regret the choices you make. You may fear the consequences of your decisions, or you may second-guess yourself constantly. This can make you feel indecisive, confused, and guilty. 

For example, you may overthink about whether to accept a job offer, instead of trusting your intuition and accepting the best option for you.

Lack of a commitment habit

You may not have a clear goal or purpose in mind, or you may not follow through with your plans. You may procrastinate, or you may change your mind frequently. This can make you feel directionless, unmotivated, and dissatisfied. 

For example, you may overthink about what to do with your life, instead of setting a goal and taking action to achieve it.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these problems and stop overthinking. Here are some suggestions:

Ways to stop overthinking

Ways to improve your problem-solving skills

Learn to identify the root cause of a problem, and break it down into smaller and manageable steps. Seek help from others when needed, and learn from your mistakes. Focus on the solutions, not the problems. 

For example, if you have a problem with your boss, you can try to understand why he or she is unhappy with your work, and what you can do to improve it. 

You can also ask for feedback from your colleagues, and learn from their experiences. You can then focus on implementing the changes that will make your boss satisfied, and not dwell on the past or the future.

Ways to raise your self-esteem and self-image

Recognize your strengths and achievements, and appreciate yourself for who you are. Challenge your negative thoughts, and replace them with positive affirmations. Practice gratitude, and celebrate your progress. 

For example, if you have low self-esteem, you can try to list down the things that you are good at, and the things that you have accomplished. 

You can also say positive things to yourself, such as “I am capable, I am worthy, I am enough”. You can also express gratitude for the things that you have, and the people who support you. 

You can also reward yourself for the small wins that you make, and acknowledge your growth.

Ways to improve your decision-making skills

Set clear and realistic criteria for your decisions, and weigh the pros and cons of each option. Trust your intuition, and accept that no decision is perfect. Once you make a decision, stick to it, and don’t look back. 

For example, if you have to make a decision about your career, you can try to list down the factors that are important to you, such as salary, location, work environment, etc. 

You can then evaluate each option based on these factors, and see which one meets your needs and preferences the most. You can also listen to your gut feeling, and choose the option that feels right to you. 

You can also accept that there is no such thing as a perfect decision, and that every decision has its trade-offs and risks. You can then commit to your decision, and not regret it later.

Ways to develop a commitment habit

Define your goals and values, and align your actions with them. Create a plan, and schedule your tasks. Set deadlines, and hold yourself accountable. Reward yourself for completing your tasks, and review your results. 

For example, if you want to start a business, you can try to define your vision and mission, and what you want to achieve with your business. 

You can then create a business plan, and break it down into smaller and specific tasks. You can then schedule your tasks, and set a timeline for each one. You can then monitor your progress, and check off the tasks that you have done. 

You can also reward yourself for finishing a task, such as taking a break, or buying yourself a treat. You can also review your results, and see what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments accordingly.

Overthinking – Conclusion

Overthinking is a common and harmful habit that can ruin your life. 

You can overcome it  by addressing the underlying problems that cause it, just like I did.

By improving your problem-solving skills, raising your self-esteem and self-image, improving your decision-making skills, and developing a commitment habit, you can reduce your overthinking and enjoy a more productive and fulfilling life.

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