The biggest problem with overthinking is that it’s called overthinking when it should be called underthinking.
Overthinking is the term for the repetitive negative thought pattern that revolves around judging and belittling yourself, imagining all possible worst-case scenarios, and blowing every little issue way out of proportion.
Do you see the problem? There is no thinking involved, there are no constructive solutions or creative ideas. Just a stampede of negative thoughts that resolve nothing but give you enormous anxiety.
Your brain is a thinking organ
The words we use have a great impact on how we see and understand ourselves and the world.
If you name that activity you do when you lay awake in the middle of the night “overthinking” you are unintentionally fooling your brain into believing you are doing some overly productive thing.
The brain doesn’t make a difference between negative, unproductive thoughts and positive, constructive thoughts. You have one negative thought and the brain will shower you with more similar thoughts because it understands that that’s what you want. And it will want to do it again and again because it apparently excels at it. So you create this toxic habit that’s hard to let go of.
But if you change the name of what you’re doing from overthinking to underthinking and say “Hey, I’m underthinking this.” then your brain will stop and say “Wait that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing, I’m a thinking organ.”. And this is where lies the opportunity to eliminate the “overthinking” habit.
Use your brain as a problem-solving tool
All you have to do is ask your brain “How can we do this better?” or “How can we solve this problem?”. Then give it a moment and wait to see if some answer comes.
Probably in the beginning nothing will come. But if you continue doing this every time a negative thought comes, you simply ask your brain to provide a solution, after a while, it will start giving you solutions. The solutions will come in the form of thoughts. Because that is how the brain works. It’s a problem-solving tool.
We all have this incredibly powerful tool, the brain. But almost nobody is thought about how to use it. Some are lucky to know it instinctively, but the majority go through life without ever realizing the potential they have. Luckily, you’re about to learn one simple technique to communicate to your brain what you want it to do for you.
Don’t be surprised if, when you read it, your reaction is “Well that’s too easy, why didn’t I think of that?”. You might even think “This is too simple, it will never work.”. But that’s the thing, learning to use your brain the way it’s intended to be used is not difficult. Quite the contrary it’s so easy anybody can learn to do it.
3 steps to stop overthinking
Every time you notice a thought that makes you feel anxious or bad about yourself and life do this:
STEP 1: Say to yourself “I’m underthinking this.”.
By saying this you are shifting your attention from negative and unhelpful thought patterns and directing them in a constructive and problem-solving direction. What you are really saying is “Ok, that’s the problem I’m dealing with, but what now, how do I move on from there?”. Once you get out of the wormhole of your negative thought patterns, you create a space for new thoughts.
STEP 2: Ask your brain for a solution.
A brain is a problem-solving tool that is constantly working in the background. It works on whatever occupies your attention. So if your attention is on the ways you can solve a problem it will work to provide you with possible solutions. The more you ask your brain to find solutions to your problems, instead of just filling it with limiting, negative thoughts, the better and quicker it will become in providing you with solutions.
STEP 3: Wait and listen closely for the answer.
Once you ask the question it’s time to wait for an answer. While you wait you can repeat the question, or ask similar questions for the same problem. But, and this is most important, don’t try to answer the question consciously by yourself. All you do is ask a question, the answer must come by itself. And when it comes you’ll know it because it will feel as if it came out of nowhere. It might take some time to train your brain to think in a new way. But even if you don’t get an answer at that time, it doesn’t really matter because at this point you’ll be out of the whirlpool of negative thoughts. Essentially you’ll accomplish a task to stop overthinking by letting go of control.
If you don’t want your brain to shower you with negative thoughts, all you have to do is give it a task. The way to stop your brain from drowning in negative thoughts is to ask for a solution to your problem. So next time you find yourself in an overthinking session. Stop and do these 3 steps to stop overthinking.