How to Stop Overthinking – Be Present

Overthinking can really prevent us from living life in the moment and enjoying the process of life unfolding with us.

We are not meant to think about and consciously try to process every single object and happening that is going on in life. This would be impossible but we seem to try to do so with select things in our lives. This can lead to pain and suffering.

It can be that we are then living in “another world” for lack of a better word. We could call it a “dream state” if you will.

We have all come across or experienced overthinking in our own lives and then when we “snap out of it”, to realise we have been “somewhere else” for a while. Or we have witnessed it in others.

If you want to stop overthinking, which if we realised how it can rob us of life, then be Present.

Pure and simple, that is the answer.

For those that want to take this “shortcut” and save yourself  pain and suffering – which as I mentioned in other posts, suffering is not an entirely “bad” thing and sometimes necessary for “awakening” but lets stay focussed on the “shortcut” – then stop thinking and become present i.e, on what you are doing Now and not casting your mind to the past and future constantly.

For most of us however we need “reminding” and to develop those habits of awareness to see what we are actually doing or rather thinking in the present moment. That which is causing the “overthinking” and in essence, pain & suffering and preventing our natural peace and joy within to be realised.

We all want to live a full life in peace and joy and we can, whether it is going “our way” or not…

What Being Present Means

To clarify when I said, to “stop” overthinking.

What is more accurate to say, is to become “aware” of your thoughts and feelings in the moment. “Stopping” implies resistance and resistance implies “suffering” to a degree.

Trying to “stop” thinking will create more thinking.  All we need is a little “awareness” and “mindfulness”.
The “overthinking” will naturally abate or pass once we are aware of it and can see it for what it is –  thoughts coming and going, like clouds in the sky.

I also said we require, “reminding”…

This is because, being present is not something we need to learn but more so to remember and “uncover” our intrinsic peace and joy within.

So, being present is really about living life in the now and as mentioned above, not in the past and the future, which really do not exist. The past having… “past” and the future being an illusion and only taking place in the present moment.

It’s about…and this is going to sound cliche but to really “stop and smell the roses”.

Do what you are doing in the “now”, whether it is walking, working, playing, etc, without the “chatter” going on in the background or just being aware of the chatter.

Awareness

“Awareness” is about being able to see or “witness” what is going on in our minds and to “witness” these thoughts and emotions passing our “seat of awareness”. We can then experience them for what they are –  as fleeting and not absolute.

We know this as thoughts and emotions have been coming and going our entire lives. Now we don’t have to let them rule our lives. We are the “observers” of the objects(thoughts & emotions). I have spoken about this in my other post which I will make reference too below.

Be aware of your thoughts and paradigms. I for one believed that I could solve any situation with thinking and able to come up with a solution, whether immediately or eventually. This really did not help me at all. I believed my thinking was my strength but as we know, your strengths can become your weaknesses.

We cannot solve many things if you think about it –  excuse the pun – with our “thinking”. This is a complete illusion to think otherwise.
Yes we are blessed with our minds and the physical part of which are our brains. We can accomplish such great feats and indeed solve many problems. The brain is truly an amazing organ without going into more detail.

But as mentioned in other posts, “thinking” is one part of life. I will not go in to detail but there are too many unknowns and variables for our mind to comprehend and figure them out at a thinking level. Overthinking can actually handicap us and not allow us to “see the bigger” picture or “see the wood through the trees.”

Our thinking can be very subjective and based on our ego and what “we want”, labelling what is “good” or “bad” for us.

As Eckhart Tolle quotes, “Become comfortable with not knowing.” 

Why Do we Overthink

Fear is a big factor if not the main factor. See link to the below post which touches a bit on this:

Finding Peace Through Letting Go – Non Clinging, Non Striving & Balance

Overthinking is trying to control things and not allowing life to unfold in its appropriate time. Overthinking limits our creative process – I have inserted a link to an interesting read under “resources” below on this. We need to find the balance in making choices but allowing life to takes its course.

I enjoy surfing very much and the ocean can be used for great analogies:

The more you fight the ocean, the more it takes your energy from you, as apposed to flowing with it. The balance is in making the choice in where you would like to go but being in unity with life or in this case, the ocean.

I can feel the energy in my body and mind when I have had a really busy day.
It almost feels highly charged and my thoughts start “running” away with me, leading to more thoughts, which become very anxious. This as mentioned can lead to further anxiety and “overthinking loops”.

In today’s day and age, overthinking is quite common, in the work place especially. In part this is also due to the incredible amount of information and technology we have access to at our fingertips and the demands thereof. We really need to take time out on a daily basis to find peace and quiet.

This is why people burn out. They feel good for a while, take on too much daily and then before they know it, it becomes too much. We need to cultivate mindfulness, meditation and balance into our daily lives. Take anything to the extreme and see where it leads you. Thinking too much is a perfect example of this.

Action Plan

•Be Present – The answers are always here and maintaining “fresh eyes” is key.
Using our thoughts to navigate through this world in the present through choice is our gift but we also need to allow life to unfold.
Yes, we can look back on the past(rarely I would recommend) and think and plan for the future but when it becomes the “norm”, then we are not living in the Now and “tainting” the present by delving into these states.

If we can apply ourselves wholeheartedly and being truly present in the moment, then our “future” steps will be effective and true.

Mindfulness – Apply yourself in what you are doing in the moment, be it walking, working, playing etc.

Meditation – practice meditation – see relevant posts. This will allow you to see thoughts and emotions for what they are and strengthen your mind as to not get caught up with them. Meditation will also help in quietening the mind allowing for our natural presence to be realised. This will in turn will effect how we see life – through peaceful eyes.

Non labelling – Practice not labelling everything i.e what is “good” or “bad” for us. This can be very subjective(and very subtle) and lead us to pain and suffering through wanting things to be a certain way and not as they are.

To be clear, we are not practicing giving up or accepting that we cannot change anything but more so to be aware of what is truly driving us and why. “Follow your heart.” Cliche but true. We need to tap into our inner wisdom regarding this.

Know you cannot solve or know everything and find peace in that.

•Know that fear is an illusion and peace and joy are always within.

•Recources:
-“The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle
– https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201706/new-research-explains-why-overthinking-can-hinder-creativity

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”  – Tao Teh Ching

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

I hope you have enjoyed this and found it truly helpful and beneficial.

The last thing this post should encourage is overthinking on these ideas and principles or anything in life really. So, allow them to absorb through careful attendance but do not become ritualistic or regimental.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Enjoy and be kind to yourself.