We are conscious beings. We have the ability to think. Isn’t that wonderful? We can use our imagination to conjure up scenes of beauty right in front of us. We can process words, symbols, numbers, emotions, and many other experiences in day to day life. We think to solve problems and we think for leisure. We think all day and every day. Sometimes we think a little too much.
We have all experienced over-thinking at some point in our lives. It’s completely normal, but usually an uncomfortable experience. When our imagination decides to run wild we can sometimes lose track of that beautiful scenery that we were imagining and end up thinking about worst case scenarios. Everything can be over-thought about. Be it relationships with other people, cooking dinner for the night or what might happen at work tomorrow we can always get caught up over thinking the possibilities. So how do we overcome this?
Let’s do this together. We can start by not making assumptions. Don Miguel Ruiz wrote about this in his book “The Four Agreements”. When we draw assumptions we’re just putting ourselves into a situation that has not yet happened. Therefore, we have no clue how the outcome will be. We have no idea what is going to happen a year, month, day, hour, minute or even a second in the future. We have no clue how a person will react to what you say. So why should we bother spending our energy in making assumptions? Ask questions instead. Ask as many until you have the information you need. An educated guess is better than an uneducated one.
Let’s go back to the topic of putting ourselves into the future. This causes anxiety. We can very easily imagine future scenes and that can cause more harm than good. When we imagine ourselves in a certain situation we relive it. Just like people with PTSD we can actually feel the situation. If you tried hard enough to imagine a taste you will eventually taste it. Our body remembers experiences and if you puzzle a future experience together with knowledge of past situations then you will definitely feel that scenario mentally and physically. I’m not saying that we should not completely forget about the future. Planning ahead of time is a great thing to do, but to expect everything to go according to plan is unrealistic. Things can go any which way at any time. Resting your well-being on future events will only create anxiety.
Let’s just admit to ourselves that when it comes to future events, we know absolutely nothing. Not knowing something is fine. Let’s also just learn to accept that what happened in the past is done with. We can’t go back and change anything. So it seems like we only have one place left to go. The present. If we focus on the present we’ll be just fine.
Practicing being in the now is our all mighty tool to slay over-thinking. We can meditate or do yoga. For those of us who do not want to dedicate time to longer practices have no fear. When we feel like we’re thinking too much about a certain topic we can do simple exercises to get us back on track. Like everything, they take some practice, but we’ll get it eventually. Let’s just stop for a second and put everything down. Don’t close your eyes this time. Just take a deep breath in and look around. Where are you? What are you doing? What can you smell? Can you feel the wind on your skin? What about the surrounding sounds? What’s going on right here, right now? Answer all of these questions. If you can think of anymore questions relating to your environment then answer them too. Remind yourself of the present moment and just take it in. It may not work the first time, but we won’t give up easy. We can keep on practicing it and eventually we’ll stop using so much energy on things that don’t matter and start putting it into what really matters. What’s happening right now.