With instant gratification becoming the new normal and life busier than ever, our ability to over think and stress out is at an all time high. The monkey mind is a buddhist term referring to the unsettled and restless state that the human mind can get stuck in. I, myself, am a self defined over thinker, which is a behavior that causes me so much unneeded suffering. I logically know that circling around in my head about the what if’s and future trippin on made up situations is not going to help. Despite my awareness, it remains a challenge for me to stop my racing mind once it gains momentum.
With that said and knowing over thinking all too well, here are some tips that are my personal “go to’s” when that little over analyzing beast inside begins to act up.
“Know thy enemy,” right? Straight up, over thinking is a symptom of high anxiety. Anxiety is a symptom of living in the future. When you realize that your anxiety is over taking you, chances are that you’re stressing out and worrying about something that may or might not happen in the future. Realize that over thinking is the ego’s defense mechanism. In a sense, your worry is “trying” to protect you. With understanding that it’s doing the exact opposite, this can help you get a hold on your worry so it can lessen and eventually stop. This will lead you to a much more peaceful now. Awareness is always the first step.
Let Go of Resistance
Over thinking becomes a problem when we’re in resistance to our thoughts. Anything that we resist in life we make stronger because of our added focus to “the problem.” It’s a big buzz phrase in psychology that “whatever we resist persists.” Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care, it allows the situation to be what it is so it can naturally pass through. When we’re high in our resistance we naturally and without thought don’t allow something to pass without a struggle. Think of clenching your stomach on a rollercoaster or tensing your muscle before a shot at the doctor. Both of these actions will create more difficulty and strain. You have to relax and loosen in order to allow experiences to come and go or they will remain blocked and stuck.
Check Your Focus
Whatever you focus on grows stronger. Be mindful on what you’re focusing on and be aware that your area of focus is a choice. Chances are that if you’re over thinking, you’re focusing on what could go wrong vs. what can go right. Check yourself by switching your focus toward the positive outcome vs the outcome of doom and gloom.
Your perception is always responsible for your over thinking. With that being the case, if you work on changing your perspective you will find relief. Here are some ways of thinking that might help your racing mind:
Trust something bigger than you.
Realize that you can only control and do so much.
Other forces are at play to help assist you.
The world is working on your behalf.
It’s not all falling on you to figure it out.
Check your Diet
If you tend to have high anxiety and worry, pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. For example caffeine and alcohol are known to intensify feelings of anxiety and worry. A plant based diet, lots of water, exercise and frequent emersions in nature are known to lessen your level of anxiety. Also, pay attention to you and your body. Nobody is ever going to be able to feel and understand what you’re going through physically, emotionally and mentally but you. Do your best to pay attention in order to figure out the particular activities, habits and foods that work best for you.
Keep Good Company
Surround yourself with people who think less and enjoy more. Be mindful of relationships that are continually dumping their anxious thoughts and perspectives onto you. We are influenced by who we spend our time with. Therefore, pay attention to the mindsets and vibrational frequency of the people that you spend a lot of your time with.
Get Into Your Body
Practice total body awareness by doing things that help you to get out of your head and into your body. When you have to focus on a physical skill, you automatically have to shift your mind focus to your body. This is why sports and getting physical is such a great practice. You quiet the mind by tapping into the body. You can do this in any way that lights you up. Find out what your physical outlets are and go toward them as often as you can.
Taking up a practice in mindfulness meditation can help you constantly be in the here and now. Getting quiet and tuning into the aspects of your inner workings will help you to move into your heart space. Entering into your heart space is where surrender and acceptance live. Within your heart space you will naturally stop trying and start allowing.
Accept What Is
You don’t have to like it, although if you want to feel peaceful, you do have to find acceptance for it. We all hear that it’s not what happens, rather, it’s how we respond to what happens that makes or breaks us. The first place to find and practice acceptance is with your own self. Accepting who you are, where you are and what is happening around you will allow you to move forward with more grace and ease.
Be grateful for all the things already in your life that you are content with. Appreciation breeds more things to be appreciative for. Get your rose colored glasses on and see the beauty in things and people rather than the grey. Realize the gifts that you already have and the gifts that are already in your life. Practice counting your blessings instead of your failures. Be thankful.
I believe that over thinking is a habit that is one of the biggest thieves of happiness. If you’re stuck in your head, you can’t simultaneously enjoy the present. This is torture. I know that I’ve been in amazing settings with amazing people, trapped in my mind. Realize that over thinking doesn’t change anything; only actions do. Drop the judgement of what you think needs to happen to feel happy and practice being with what is happening while acting on your inspiration. In the most simple of terms, this is how to live a more peaceful life.
*Image by photographer, Amy Lynn Bjornson.