If I tell you the number of times in a day, I think my world is falling apart; you wouldn’t believe me. See, I have this thing; people call it overthinking; I say I have it because most times, it feels like an illness; it is a form of mental illness.
I cannot stand it when someone tells me we need to talk, please speak. The minute you leave a statement pending, you have granted me the permission to explore a world full of impossibilities.
You’d think this is a good thing, because who doesn’t want to exist without limits? For most of the part, this world of impossibilities is made up of awful things. Rarely do I overthink and find myself sitting at the beach for the first time in my life. It happens, but minimal times, it can’t be overthinking; I call that dreaming, maybe hoping, never overthinking.
I have too much energy in my brain; if you leave me hanging, I will complete the statement. As I have learnt very recently, the problem is that while other people put a full stop and go on with their business until you get back to them, I will write a novel. I will interpret every word you said in the past month; I will try to trace our conversations and identify anything that would breed contention
How do I deal with Overthinking?
My brain is a roller-coaster, and my emotions and thoughts take that ride more often than I would want them to.
Over time, I have learned that to counter this overthinking thing; I need to be intentional about it. While I actively work towards being better at taking situations and people’s words and actions exactly as they are, sometimes I forget myself.
I have two choices in these moments, to fall down the rabbit hole, or fight it. I could tell you that I always fight, but the truth is, sometimes, I don’t have the energy to. I let it play out; I let my brain birth those thoughts.
In both scenarios, whether I decide to face it head-on or let it consume me, I have found ways to make the experience less draining on my mental health. This works for me because it helps me ensure that I can get back to work or do what I was supposed to once it is done. I learnt, very early, that overthinking feels like work, and since your brain is already active, you are likely to be less productive.
How to Manage your Overthinking
Remember your Grammar Lessons
Whatever language you speak, wherever you learnt it, somehow, you learnt opposites. Listen to what your mind is saying and create the opposite. If there is no direct opposite, you should find something with the same weight or implication on your brain.
For instance, if you feel that you might lose your job soon, think about getting a promotion instead. The idea is to replace a bad thought with a good one. Thinking on the same extremes allows you to see the absurdity or impossibility of your thoughts.
Mind your Language
There’s this voice that is always in your head, all-day, every day. If you don’t learn to tame how it speaks to you, it will take you on unnecessary trips around whatever neighbourhood of gloom it pleases. This voice can give you courage, patience, kindness, confidence, and whatever other positive aspects you want, but it also can undermine any progress you are making in self-love.
Your inner voice reiterates the words and ideas you have been exposed to. This means that if people never reassured you, it only speaks of insecurities; if people said awful things, it only knows negativity.
Luckily, despite all the things you have or haven’t been told, there is a way to counter the impact. Teach kindness to your inner voice by speaking affirmations and reassurances. These help you walk towards a limitless existence. Also, ensure that you acknowledge the progress you have made and celebrate as many accomplishments as you can.
The Bush-fire Freedom
I know it might sound insane, but give your brain what it wants. If it wants to overthink, let it; at the end of it, you’ll be glad you did. A lesson I learnt from my mother is that sometimes when someone wants to fight you, or you are instigating it, it is because there lacks respect between you.
There’s this Kikuyu saying, loosely translated to “you need to fight, so you can stop disregarding each other.
Now, I know this is your brain, and it is part of who you are, but I also understand that the mind acts on its own accord most times. You are a compilation of emotions, beliefs, ideas, morals, and many other things. Whenever your mind starts overthinking, it’s time to let every other part of you fight.
Let your mind create the first scenario, maybe the first three, and then interrupt it. I know this sounds absurd to people who don’t overthink; before we proceed, I would like to know how it feels to be god’s favourite.
Anyway, if your mind likes running wild at the slightest provocation, you need to respect its need to work, but introduce aspects that shift the narrative.
For instance, if you are wondering how you will do in an exam, your first thought is that you might fail; in a typical rabbit hole, you will end up in a pit where your life falls apart from this single thought.
Instead of following the usual rabbit hole, introduce small aspects that will change the course of it. If you are lucky, you will end up thinking about your graduation night, wondering how you made it, but grateful that you did.
This approach does not invalidate your fear; it changes the ending.
Riddle me this; Who told you?
There’s nothing more sobering than calling yourself out. The minute you realize that you are overthinking, let your brain complete the thought. This way, you can customize questions based on the conclusion it makes. You can ask;
- Who told you?
- What informs your conclusion?
- How did you gather all that information?
- What is the likelihood that it will happen how you think it will?
Trying to validate your thoughts reminds you that everything is in your head.
Take your Time
Overthinking is birthed from many things, and the only way to counter it is to try and understand the trigger. Thus, you need to sit with the thoughts and let them show you the places that give them comfort. Once you know where those thoughts stem from, you will find it easier to fight to stay sane.
You can write your thoughts down, and if you are as extra as me, you will use your trauma and experiences to create a bunch of affirmations to help you with this self-love. Maybe you will present them to the world as a book and hope someone finds it useful in their self-love journey.
Alternatively, if you have the technology, you can record yourself in video or audio and listen to it until you can decipher the joy, pain, nostalgia, betrayal, and whatever else shows up in your words.
And the answer is…
Once you understand it and have the capacity, try to develop solutions, not to end your overthinking, but to help you deal with whatever is happening. If you are worried about losing your job, you need to question why you are not grounded in it; you might find that it’s time to move to something new. If that is the case, you can start working towards finding a new one.
Overthinking affects people differently, but one thing remains constant; awareness is the best solution. Knowing when you are about to start overthinking and how to deal with it are crucial to dealing with this illness.