As someone who has struggled with her own depression and anxiety – even suicidal inclinations – I really find myself feeling for you right now. I’m also only a few years younger than you, as I turn 21 this August.
I find that with depression or any nasty feeling of loneliness and unworthiness, the thoughts are very persistent. It can be difficult to talk yourself out of them, but remember! It is not impossible, and things are never as bad as they seem.
I’ll tell you a few things that I learned that have helped me. I shall write them in steps. You ready?
- Question why you feel like no one loves you, why you feel that you’re worthless, etc. Really search for hard evidence as opposed to overgeneralization and self-doubt. I’m pretty sure that with a family as good as yours, your search will come up with more evidence that you are actually very well loved as opposed to being nothing to anyone.
- Write down your feelings in a journal so that you can identify them and mostly to just clear your head. I find that writing really helps to get rid of whatever negatively I’m feeling. You can keep it to look back on it later, or you can burn it to add to the release. Or, if you are comfortable enough, talk to a trusted friend or family member just to vent. They’ll be able to reassure you and tell you how they really feel about you.
- This one is going to sound really corny, but you could write out a list of the things you like about yourself, and ONLY the things you like about yourself. Or, in the case of others, write out all the nice things they do for you and every sign of affection they show you. Repeat these things in your head instead of the bad thoughts.
- Keeping optimistic is HUGE. You want to avoid “stinking thinking” and all sorts of pessimistic lines of thought. For example, if you don’t get a text back from someone you care for, instead of telling yourself “they hate me,” say “they were probably just busy and will get back to me when they can.” Hold firm to the positive thoughts and just keep repeating them to yourself so the negative ones won’t have any leverage.
- Breathe. Literally breathe. Take a moment to let go of the future or the “what if’s” and just focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and count if need be. This may also sound cliché, but yoga is really good for instructing you how to purge yourself of needless worries and “stinking thinking.” Believe me, I’ve done it – and I detested the idea at first because I used to think yoga was the most laughable physical activity. However, that was before I realized how helpful it was.
- Just remember that there are a lot of things in life that you can’t control, and other people is one of them. This may sound counterproductive at first, but trust me on this, sometimes the best thing to do is just let go. When you tell yourself “I can’t control it, so I won’t worry about it,” you may actually find that you have more peace of mind. Just preoccupy yourself with the things that make you happy and enjoy the now.
- I actually came back in and added this later, but if you really think you’re unworthy of the people you love, actively try to do even more to be kind to them. Be more generous, talk to them more often. Loyally show your support. Whatever you can do to show them you care. While you can’t control other people, this can sway them a bit, and even if it doesn’t, you can at least start feeling better about yourself.
A lot of breaking the shackles of depression and whatnot takes practice. When you have these thoughts, you have to contradict them as soon as possible. The further you let them go on, the worse they will get.
There are multiple ways to overcome over thinking and anxiety. I’ll tell you about the easiest one that works for me.
But first, why do you feel anxious? Is it the fear of future, or consequences of your actions, the fear of how other people may react? Or the idea that things will go bad no matter what and you’ll be in a spot? In my opinion the main reason for anxiety is fear.
That’s the best way to deal with fear. However, not everyone is a jedi. Us mere mortals can’t train ourself for such stuff. We got to go for a different plan. I’ll share the one that worked for me.
1st thing I did was to stop worrying about what others would think or how others would judge me, especially the people whose judgement doesn’t matter. That was by far one of the most liberating thing I did. Let people think or judge whichever way they want. I’ll live by my moral code and my opinion, not their expectations from me. Try it, a huge chunk of your stress will vanish. Dont bother explaining yourself. You do what you feel is right, follow DHARMA as you define it.
Next was situations. The thing I realized was, like people’s opinions, however much I tried, I couldn’t control their actions. There’s no point being anxious or worried about what they will do. In any situation, the only thing in our control is how we respond. So reflect on what you plan to do in the situation, consider its pros and cons. And go ahead, do it. How others react or respond is beyond our control. Let them do whatever they want, stay calm, have a plan for the worst case scenario and hope for the best one. That’s all you can do. No need to be anxious about some otother outcome, you are already ready with a plan for the worst that can happen.
Finally, be secure in your own life. Trust yourself and your abilities. Have good dependable relationships and always have a smile on your face. It’ll be much easier to face stressful situations.
Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you must lay it down.
But I would say about 80–90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature much of it is harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It causes serious leakage of vital energy.
This kind of compulsive thinking is actually an addiction.
What characterizes an addiction?
Quite simply this: you no longer feel that you have the choice to stop. It seems stronger than you. It also gives you false sense of pleasure, pleasure that invariably turns into pain.
Why should we be addicted to thinking?
- Because for the overthinkers the present moment hardly exist, only future and past are considered important. Because it says “ one day, when this , that or the other happens, i am going to be okay, happy at peace”
- It misperceives it completely because it looks at it through the eyes of past , or it reduces the present to a means to an end , an end that always lies in the mind projected future.
- The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you can’t find the present moment as long as you are your mind .
How to conquer it ?
- Accept-then act : Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it,not against it . Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.
- Drop negativity: how do you drop piece of hot coal that you are holding in your hands ? How do you drop some heavy and useless baggage that you are carrying? By recognising that you don’t want to suffer the pain or carry the burden anymore and then letting go of it .
- Wherever you are ,Be there totally: Nonacceptance invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself victim. When you speak out , you are in power. So change the situation by taking actions or speaking out if necessary or possible;leave situation or accept it . All else is madness.
- Remove “ What if thought” cope up with the now: the what if thoughts, which is projecting itself into imaginary future situation and creating fear . There is no way you cope up with such a situation because it doesn’t exist. Stop this health and life corroding insanity simply by acknowledging the present moment. Ask yourself what “ problem” you have right now , not nxt year , tomorrow or five minutes from now. Always cope with now!! The answer , the strength, the right action or resources will be there when you need it , not before, not after.
Stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right.
Thinking is a valuable quality of an enlightened soul. A sensible man cannot stop thinking. All the good of the world and the mankind have been materialised by the thinkers. May it be in philosophy, science, literature or any other fields. But over thinking is injurious and cause no good to the society. Over thinking causes depression. As a result, the man is subjected to many mental and physical ailments. It also hampers his career and success. As such overthinking and worrying must be cotrolled. But nobody over think willingly. It comes. How to handle overthinking?
1) The problem has been solved a half, when you pin point the problem and write it. Now you need a strong will to solve the problem completely. Never lose heart. The success is ahead.
2) Nothing is impossible in this world. When there is a will there is a way . Every problem has its solution. Only you have to find it. A man having no limbs or sight can fight the battle of life successfully? Then why you can”t with all of them? All the people live and face life boldly? Why you cant? If everybody can? W
3) Expectaion harms self respect and self confidence. Never expect anything from others. Love everybody and help everybody. But never expect anything. If you expect from others, if you do not get,you will be angry and unhappy. Expect all from yourself and work accordingly.
4) Develop yourself with proper education, grooming, and hard work. Leave no stone unturned. Achieve success. Success as per your satisfaction is the best antidot to overthinking.
5) Over thinking and worrying are the result of mental weakness. To remove mental weakness first of all physical syrength must be increased. For this physical exercise is necesary. Outdoor activities with others in open ground or gym will be good. Practise with others will remove overthing and worrying.
6) Yoga and prayanams increase mental strength and self confidence. Meditation increses positive energy in our body which drive all ngetivities including overthinking.
7) Surrende to God or any Super power as per your choice. It will make you mentally strong and confident. Regular prayer will help a lot in this purpose. Modern researcher have proved it scientifically.
8) Develope positive mindset with strong will power, optmism, courage, patience, love for everybody etc. Shake off all negetivities Mix more and more with positive minded people. Communicate and share all with them honestly. Overthinking and worrying will be controlled
9) Creative activities are useful. Performing arts like recitation, dance, acting etc will help to remove overthinking .
10) Consider yourself strong in everything. Vivekananda said that a man is what he thinks for himself. If you consider youself weak you become weak. Weakness is a root of over thinking and worrying. You have enormous power to achieve anything in the world, only if you so desire with strong determination.
11) Stop thinking of what is others thinking about yourself. Others are not helping you in your crisis. Then why you are thinking about others and harm yourself. Rather live your life as per your choice. Much time has been wasted in thinking about others. Now think about yourself ,concentrate and live a life without overthinking and worrying.
12) Avoid staying alone for the time being. An idle brain is the workshop of devil. Idle brain invites unnecesary overthing. Keep yourself so busy that you have no time to overthink.
13) Grow habit of reading books by positive thinkers. Listen to your favourite music. Do your hobby.
14) Time is the best medicine. Children forget their mother’s death within a period of time. You will also forget your issues of overthinking within few months and wonder, “Was I so foolish to overthink on such petty matters?”.
15) What is your stake in this vast limitless universe? Only few feet. Does it matters at all? You are very much insignificant. Not to take the burden of the world. Take it easy.
16) The world is beautiful. But the life is short. Hence, time is precious. Life is solely yours. Now it is your decision, whether, you can afford wasting time in overthinking.
Trying not to overthink is like trying not to think about a pink crocodile now that I’ve mentioned it.
The human mind seems to be unable to process a negative, which means it can’t not think of something you tell it to forget or ignore.
The implication of this is that overthinking cannot be solved by self-discipline or trying harder.
This is a hard one for the human intellect to wrap itself around, because the intellect works in one direction only: more doing and more thinking.
Whatever problem you throw at your intellect, it will always think about it more.
But if our aim is to reduce the amount of thinking we have going on, what options do we have?
It seems to me there are two general approaches, neither of which require self discipline or trying:
- You can redirect your mind to something else. When you notice yourself overthinking, distract yourself with something that takes your mind off the overthinking. Note that while this approach is easy to implement, it can easily lead to a coping mechanism that you end up being reliant on (i.e. a bad habit).
- Find the “mental latch” you can pull that allows you to let go of your thinking. This can take several forms, and you can choose whichever feels right for you:
- Acceptance – Accept that you are overthinking. Accept that you don’t know what’s going to happen or what to do. Accept that you feel insecure and unsatisfied. If you can’t accept something, accept that you can’t accept it. The more you accept your situation, the more easily your excess thinking about it falls away.
- See it all for what it is: thought – If we feel anxious or insecure, it doesn’t mean that something on the outside caused it. All it means is that we have anxious or insecure thinking. That’s it. The more you see that your entire experience of life made up of nothing but thought, the less sense it will make for you to take it so damn seriously.
- Be in the now – Overthinking requires the concepts of past and future to happen. If you simply focus on the present moment, overthinking doesn’t have the oxygen it needs to live. You can do this either as a form of mindfulness (just focus on whatever it is you are doing and feeling right now) or a more structured meditation.
There are many other forms of this than just these three, but they all point to the same fundamental realisation that the less you identify with your personal troubled thinking, the less sense it will make for you to hold on to it.
As you let your thoughts just be, your mind naturally begins to relax.
1. Put things into a wider perspective.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life.
So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself:
Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?
I have found that widening the perspective by using this simple question can snap me quickly out of overthinking and help me to let that situation go and focus my time and energy on something that actually does matter to me.
2. Set short time-limits for decisions.
If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it is a small or bigger decision.
Here’s what have worked for me.
- For small decisions like if should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.
- For somewhat larger decisions that would have taken me days or weeks to think through in the past I use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.
3. Become a person of action.
When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.
Setting deadlines is one thing that have helped me to become much more of person of action.
Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that have worked really well.
It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want flee into procrastination. And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.
4. Realize that you cannot control everything.
Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you do not risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool.
But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes.
But in most cases they have also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.
So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance.
This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.
5. Say stop in situation where you know you cannot think straight.
Sometimes when I am hungry or when I am lying in bed and are about to go to sleep negative thoughts start buzzing around in my mind.
In the past they could do quite a bit of damage. Nowadays I have become good at catching them quickly and to say to myself:
No, no, we are not going to think about this now.
I know that when I am hungry or sleepy then my mind sometimes tend to be vulnerable to not thinking clearly and to negativity.
So I follow up my “no, no…” phrase and I say to myself that I will think this situation or issue through when I know that my mind will work much better.
For example, after I have eaten something or in the morning after I have gotten my hours of sleep.
It took a bit of practice to get this to work but I have gotten pretty good at postponing thinking in this way. And I know from experience that when I revisit a situation with some level-headed thinking then in 80% of the cases the issue is very small to nonexistent.
And if there is a real issue then my mind is prepared to deal with it in much better and more constructive way.
6. Do not get lost in vague fears.
Another trap that I have fallen into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that I have gotten lost in vague fears about a situation in my life. And so my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something.
So I have learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?
And when I have figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that often pretty unlikely thing happens.
I have found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce.
Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes of time and bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.
7. Work out.
This might sound a bit odd.
But in my experience working out – especially with lifting weights – can help me to let go of inner tensions and worries.
It most often makes me feel more decisive and when I was more of an overthinker then it was often my go-to method of changing the headspace I was in to a more constructive one.
8. Spend more of your time in the present moment.
By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.
Three ways that I often use to reconnect with the present moment are:
- Slow down. Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.
- Tell yourself: Now I am… I often tell myself this: Now I am X. And X could be brushing my teeth. Taking a walk in the woods. Or doing the dishes. This simple reminder helps my mind to stop wandering and brings my focus back to what is happening in this moment.
- Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself : STOP! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.
9. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.
Your social environment plays a big part. And not just the people and groups close to you in real life. But also what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life.
So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourages and tends create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.
Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and sources that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tends to strengthen your overthinking habit.