Techniques to stop overthinking
Do any of you clever people know how to use the iPhone as a recording device?
I’m a little fed up of repeating the same thing to lots of my lovely clients, and so I’m thinking of just recording it... "STOP flippin’ overthinking!".
Sorry, I’m just repeating the mantra of 'you’re calm, composed, and live life with grace and ease' to myself... yep it’s starting to work, just one final repetition... there - I’m back in the room.
I love my clients, however, they can be exasperating sometimes - if you’re a client reading this, I obviously don’t mean you!
And yes, before you ask, clients do improve with my sessions, again - obviously! Nonetheless, the majority do still need reminding quite often.
Overthinking helps no-one; it causes angst, and second-guessing yourself, every step of the way, and worrying about the implications of making the 'wrong' decision is definitely not the right path to creating and building your best life!
Sounds easy? Ok, so what can you actually do to help yourself? Here are my six pointers to help you to kick the overthinking...
1.) Don’t take life too seriously - keep a sense of perspective and strive to find the funny side. Quite often, if I’m starting to feel anxious or a bit stressed, I realise I’m taking it all far too seriously and need to breathe, relax and chill. This leads me to point two...
2.) Acknowledging that you’re starting to feel the pressure or getting into a negative space is the first step to being able to do something about it! I often encourage my clients to react in a fun manner that works for them. For example, when I know I’m starting to overthink (we all do it!), I’ll sing a line of a Spice Girls song and think 'Stop right now, thank you very much...'. This has become a positive habit and a pattern of behaviour that genuinely makes me stop, assess the situation, and review how I’m responding...
Do you know that most of the things you worry about never happen? When you’ve stopped and acknowledged your overthinking, think - is it...
3.) A genuine concern that’s happening now? If so, write a list of three positive actions you can take to tackle the issue. Stuck on what they could be? Ask a friend or colleague - getting additional insight always helps when you’re stuck! Take some action that will move things forward...
4.) A concern about something that may or may not happen in the future? My recommendation for this? Let it go - yes, a singing theme again, but seriously - life is too short. Move onto point four and let your unconscious mind work on possible solutions; people you can talk to about your concerns or positive action you can take.
5.) Clients have told me it is particularly good to sing very loudly along to 'Let It Go' from Frozen whilst in the car alone (or with the children if they’re around) - you may get some funny looks from other car drivers, but at least you’ll look like you’re having a fun meltdown rather than a miserable wreckage of overthinking...
6.) Distract yourself, concentrate on the present, and have some cunning self-help techniques up your sleeve ready for when such occasions occur! Watch a funny film you love; listen to an uplifting song - make it your go-to theme tune for such occasions; speak to a good friend who will make you smile; take a breather and go for a five or 10 minute walk; make yourself your favourite snack or boil the kettle; have a candlelit bath; get excited about planned future events - or make some new ones. Whatever it is, embrace the pleasure, smile, and enjoy the feel-good factor.
Do you know that high-achieving perfectionists are particularly susceptible to imposter syndrome and burnout?
Striving for perfection is knackering (technical coaching term!) and takes up lots of your time and energy, whilst definitely increasing your levels of stress and anxiety. This results in you overthinking and second-guessing what you’re doing.
Remember, stop and acknowledge, use your rational judgement and make a conscious decision to do things in a perfectly adequate manner. It’s not about lowering standards, it’s about understanding what needs doing and doing it to a perfectly adequate level. This is one of my favourite phrases when coaching clients, and I know from feedback and my case studies that it works and makes a positive difference.
Finally, let’s not forget gratitude. No, I’m not encouraging tree-hugging or group cuddles (although they can be nice!). The reasoning behind gratitude is if you’re consciously thinking of something that you’re grateful for and have lots of positive, nice vibes going on, it’s extremely difficult to be thinking in a negative manner.
One of my clients introduced me to a gratitude jar – she has slips of paper next to a big jar and when something good happens to her, in the general day-to-day rather than just big events, she jots a quick note of it and posts the slip into the jar. If she’s ever struggling to find some positive thinking or gratitude, she shakes her jar and empties some of the slips – reading them reminds her of the great things she has in her life and that her current state of mind is only temporary. She then sticks her theme tune on and sings along extra loud!
I hope all of the above techniques, or at least a mixture of some of them, will help you to conquer your overthinking and second-guessing.
Remember, we’re on a positive journey forwards towards creating and building your best life where you find purpose, live dreams, set new goals and conquer objectives. Overthinking - step away please, we have no room for you here!
P.s. I do really know how to record with an iPhone... I checked with my son!