They are resistant to change. They dig their heels in deeply and kick and scream every step of the way UNLESS they make a cognitive decision to open themselves up to changing their own thoughts. This does not come easily. Overthinking is birthed in our childhoods and grows with time. If you aren’t sure whether or not you fall into this category, Click Here to read my recent article that lists seven examples of overthinking.
Over-thinkers are more resistant to change for several reasons, as their tendency to overanalyze and worry can make change seem particularly challenging and anxiety-inducing:
- Fear of the unknown: Overthinkers often dwell on potential negative outcomes and uncertainties. Change represents an unknown future, which can trigger their fear of what might go wrong or how it could disrupt their current stability or routine.
- Loss of control: Overthinkers may have a strong need for control and predictability. You know, “control freak”. Change can feel like it’s taking away that control, making them uncomfortable and anxious. Jumping off a cliff without a solid plan…one they devised.
- Difficulty adapting: Overthinking can lead to rigid thinking patterns. Change requires adaptability and flexibility, which overthinkers may struggle with due to their tendency to fixate on specific scenarios and overanalyze details.
- Decision-making: Change involves making decisions, which can be challenging for overthinkers who struggle with indecision and fear making the wrong choice. A decision as basic as ordering a food selection can take 30 minutes.
- Negative anticipation: Overthinkers may anticipate negative outcomes or consequences associated with change, leading to increased anxiety and reluctance to embrace new situations or opportunities. The glass has to be half empty because it always is.
- Perfectionism: Overthinkers may have perfectionistic tendencies and set high standards for themselves. Change can make them feel like they need to meet these high standards in the new situation, which can be overwhelming. There is nothing acceptable short of perfection.
- Comfort zone: Overthinkers may find comfort in familiarity and routine. Change disrupts their established comfort zones, making them resistant to anything that might disrupt their current state. A solid pre-planned day (without any changes at all) is never seen or identified as boring, dull, or monotonous.
It’s important to note that not all overthinkers react the same way to change, and some may embrace it more readily than others…it is rare though. However, those who struggle with change due to their overthinking tendencies can benefit from strategies such as mindfulness, gradual exposure to change, seeking support from a therapist, and developing healthy coping mechanisms to manage their anxiety and adapt more effectively to new situations. Most severe overthinkers don’t feel the need to make any changes until the lightbulb moment happens and they realize no one wants to be around them or they are out actually having fun without them. Here are 13 Questions to Ask When You Start to Overthink.
Changing overthinking patterns can be a challenging but worthwhile endeavor.
Here are some steps to help you start changing your overthinking habits:
- Awareness: The first step is to become aware of when and how you tend to overthink. Pay attention to the situations, triggers, and thought patterns that lead to excessive rumination. We tend to think we know ourselves well. We don’t. We learn how to repeat patterns and we don’t know ourselves until we actually stop and make the effort to realize how we think, leading us to a behavior and then how we feel.
- Challenge your thoughts: When you catch yourself overthinking, challenge the validity of your thoughts. Ask yourself if your concerns are based on facts or if they are just assumptions or irrational fears. Try to reframe negative thoughts into more balanced and realistic ones. This takes effort and yes, time.
- Set time limits: Give yourself a specific amount of time to think about a particular issue or make a decision. Once the time is up, make a choice and take action. Setting time limits can help prevent overthinking from dragging on indefinitely. Set an alarm if you need to. Limit your time with yourself!!!
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help you stay grounded in the present moment and reduce the tendency to dwell on the past or worry about the future. As cheesy as this sounds, it works. It is a practice and you must learn and practice this in order for it to work for you.
- Problem-solving: Instead of ruminating on problems, focus on finding practical solutions. Break larger problems into smaller, manageable steps and take action to address them. Don’t allow yourself to stay in the pits of your own self-created hell. Actually, get off of the pity miserable pot and make a frickin choice.
- Develop a support system: Share your thoughts and concerns with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. Talking about your worries can provide perspective and emotional support. Be open to their ideas and comments and remember that your own thoughts are not always the right thoughts.
- Limit information consumption: Overthinkers may excessively research or gather information in an attempt to make the “perfect” decision. Set boundaries on information gathering and trust that you have enough information to make a reasonable choice. Please get off of the social media when you begin your journey of beating yourself up or creating a negative narrative that only leads you to destruction.
- Challenge perfectionism: Recognize that perfection is often unattainable and can lead to overthinking. Embrace the idea that making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growing. Perfect is never perfect. There is no perfect and perfect in my opinion, is subjective anyway.
- Engage in relaxation techniques: Practice relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery, to reduce physical and emotional tension associated with overthinking. This works. This takes practice and is a learned skill.
- Seek professional help: If overthinking is significantly impacting your life and well-being, consider working with a therapist or counselor who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based approaches. They can provide you with personalized strategies and support.
Remember that changing overthinking patterns takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself as you work toward a more balanced and constructive mindset. It may also be helpful to track your progress and celebrate small victories along the way.
Dealing with a pattern of overthinking can be difficult and overwhelming but you are not alone! If you are struggling right now, let’s talk. You can book an in-person or virtual visit.
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