Most of us are well into a cycle of overthinking before we ever catch ourselves doing so, and even then, it’s tough to identify. So, how do you know if you’re doing it? How do you notice something like overthinking then turn off the switch so it doesn’t wreck your day, week, or life?
The best way to know if you’re overthinking is to pay attention to your mood. Once we start story-building around a certain chain of events (overthinking), there’s usually a core emotion or two we feel. For some, it might be anger. Others might pull up guilt, shame, or depression. Knowing your moods and what’s causing them is a good way to spot and put the brakes on your overthinking.
What is Overthinking?
As mentioned above, I think the term “story-building” is one of the most concise ways to sum up overthinking. If you can think of a better way, let me know in the comments.
Overthinking starts off as, most often, something that irritates, agitates, worries, bothers, or unsettles you. It doesn’t have to be much. It can start with something as small as your kid not taking out the trash, your partner forgetting to do something they said they’d do, or something someone said at work that just didn’t “feel right”.
You’ve been in one of those situations before, so you know exactly what happens next, but in the odd chance you’re still wondering…
You start story-building by taking the slight or imagined slight and padding it with more evidence why it’s a travesty of unquestionable bounds that demands reckoning.
Then come the future projections of what happens next to complete the story you “NEED” to tell yourself as well as actions you’re thinking of taking in retribution to those original events… plus everything else you throw on top while you built your story.
Why It’s So Difficult to Identify Overthinking?
Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime researching stories and the reason’s we tell them. Nearly every blockbuster movie you’ve ever watched is based on principles he researched and presented in his various books, including The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth, both of which I would recommend. They are not light reading, by the way.
In the most shorthanded way a master’s work can and has ever been summarized, he basically says we started out using stories to transfer history and meaning to future generations, and these stories all across the globe are pretty damn similar, considering there were no trains, planes, or automobiles when they originated.
All of which translates into: stories are as much a part of us as the fingers we use to turn the pages, flip the channel, or click on the next Netflix episode of the series we’re binging.
So… why is it so hard to identify overthinking a.k.a. story-building?
Because it’s part of who we are. It’d be like spotting a virus in your body before you felt any of the effects.
Those stories are flying under the radar, mostly propelled by the subconscious emotions you’ve programmed to cue once you find yourself slighted, ignored, betrayed, etc. etc.
We define ourselves by the stories we tell.
Others define us by the stories we tell them and the way they perceive us in those stories.
And we do the same to them as they tell us their stories.
How Do You Spot Overthinking?
Overthinking, specifically the kind of overthinking mentioned above, is self-defeating and limiting. Before an outcome has already arisen, we’re already putting together the pieces of the puzzle about how we think it’s going to materialize.
We get annoyed, upset, or angry when it does.
We imagined an outcome. It turned out like we imagined, then we’re shocked and feel even more betrayed when it does.
That’s an interesting little game we play, isn’t it? F’d up is a better choice of words.
Every manifestation book, self-help guru, and even tech entrepreneur will tell you to visualize what you want, then put the energy behind it to make it happen.
It’s the same recipe for success AND failure.
So… how do you spot it?
Two words: self-awareness.
I bet you’re thinking, “I know myself.”
And I bet you don’t. That’s why overthinking grabs you and wrestles you to the floor.
So what is self-awareness? Sounds easy enough, but it’s a little more complicated than it sounds. It’s even more complicated than my definition: (noun) conscious recognition of the thoughts, words, deeds, emotions, and energy you use to dictate the outcome of your interactions with the relationships in your life.
Because most of the things you think, say, do, feel, and the energy you give off often happens before conscious you gets a say in how to react.
Because the things influencing those thoughts, words, deeds, feelings, and energy are subconscious programs you installed as a child.
“So how do I find these programs and change them or whatever I need to do to stop the madness?”
Two more words: Amo Ni. That’s how I did it.
What to Do When You Realize You’re Overthinking?
Once you remove the childhood programs, the cycle gets SO much easier to spot.
And one of the best tricks I’ve ever learned to halting overthinking in its tracks and often literally laughing in the face of the clown telling you the story is a simple question: “Is it true?”
That one question will save you more heartache and story-building than you could ever imagine.
It slams the brakes on the story you’re putting together because, in many cases, what you’ve put together is false.
Think about it: the story starts with YOUR PERCEPTION of an event, but your perceptions are clouded by your experience of the past reflected onto the present and future, not actual factual representations of what really occurred to kickstart the story.
What Are Some Side-Effects of Overthinking?
Most pharmaceutical drugs are just as long.
These are just a few, but they’re not pretty.
I could go on for hours, but you get the…
Oh yeah, I forgot the one nobody ever talks about because we all think we’ll get committed if we do.
You know what I’m talking about.
Mine were the worst. At certain points in my life, I thought I was possessed.
In essence, I was… by my own thoughts, or the voices in my head telling me what a worthless piece of sh*t I was, how I didn’t deserve the things or the life my friends and family enjoyed, how I’d fail anyway so why bother trying… controlled, limited, and beaten down into submission.
You know those voices, don’t you? You don’t have to tell anyone else that you do. Your secret’s safe with me.
If you’re ready to transform them from detractors to cheerleaders, find out if the Amo Ni system is right for you.