Let’s say you woke up this morning with a positive will-do attitude and started your day on a good note. As you leave for work full of energy, you are thinking there is nothing in the world that can stop you today. You drive through the traffic and just when you get the chance to move forward there comes a stop light. Err.. no problem, it’s just one stoplight. Following this came another few stop lights and delays. You’re late for your 11 am meeting and miss your usual parking spot by a few minutes. You remind yourself that you’re unstoppable and keep at it. Jump to 11:15, your boss has started the meeting presentation without you and you’re feeling all eyes on you with your late entry. Instantly there is just one emotion that you can feel – crippling numbness from fear. It takes all of 60 seconds for your bright and cheerful self to enter a rabbit hole of thinking an array of thoughts – what is everyone thinking of me, what could be the consequences, do I forget about that promotion, why does this happen to me? What you’ve just experienced through this story is the spiral of overthinking.
Overthinking is the art of creating problems that don’t exist. Whereas, reflection will help you move ahead with intention and purpose. Overthinking pushes us to dwell on episodic instances that we may have no control over, making us feel self defeated and stuck in the past.
It is important to address overthinking to avoid its crippling effects in the quality of your life.
Here are 3 ways in which you can make a conscious shift from overthinking to reflective thinking :
Grounding as a practice can take you away from flashbacks of unwanted thoughts and bring your focus back to the present. Consciously observing your surroundings – through your senses of touch, smell, taste etc will help you ground yourself in your present.
- Breathing techniques
A simple inhale-exhale routine will help you realign your racing thoughts to your current environment and will help instill a sense of calm. Thinking reassuring thoughts through your breathing rhythm will expel any negative thoughts immediately.
- Writing down your thoughts
A quick journaling exercise or simply writing down your thoughts will help you offload any cognitive congestion you may be experiencing. Writing as an exercise will help you revisit your thoughts with better clarity and perspective.
Start reflecting on your triggers through these techniques and watch your thoughts shift from overthinking to becoming mindful. You can stop the vicious cycle of self deprecating thoughts through reflection and alignment. Harness the power of reflection for yourself and witness your life change for the better.