3 powerful hacks to stop overthinking so you can start living again

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overthinking 3 powerful hacks to stop overthinking so you can start living again

I have a confession to make. I’m an overthinker, and my overthinking has consumed my life.

My overthinking is characterized by non-stop thoughts, even when I’m absorbed completely in the present moment.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. My mind runs rampant.

Over the last decade, I’ve been aware of being an overthinker and I’ve tried to defeat it with countless mindfulness techniques, including the following:

  • Meditation, to try and quieten my overactive mind
  • Exercise, to exhaust the body so that my mind finally slows down
  • Yoga, to create a better connection between my mind and body

None of this has worked.

Instead, I developed three powerful hacks to stop overthinking from getting in the way of my life.

The key insight has been to stop trying to “fix” my overthinking. Instead, my overthinking has shifted from being a problem to fix into one of my most powerful allies.

Trying to stop my thoughts is like trying to swim against the current. It’s simply impossible (at least for me).

I explain the three hacks in the video below.

If you can’t watch the video now, keep reading. I’ll explain the worst advice you can give an overthinker, followed by the three hacks.

(NOTE: Do you want to finally stop your overthinking using the secrets of shamanism? Yes, it’s possible! We share exactly how in this free salon conversation with the shaman Rudá Iandê. You can register for free here: How to turn overthinking into your greatest strength (free salon).)

The worst advice for an overthinker: just “be present”

One of the most common pieces of life advice that I regularly come across is to “be present”. Yet for an overthinker like me, this is one of the most confusing mantras to try and embrace.

You see, what does it mean to “be present”? Does it mean to quieten the “monkey mind” and use my physical senses to observe, smell and hear my surroundings?

Or does “being present” mean that I need to connect more deeply with my thoughts?

Either approach is a recipe for disaster, because it sends me down a spiral of thoughts where I question myself and my ability to connect with the present moment.

I realized that there are many others like me who struggle to deal with overthinking. That’s why I want to share these three hacks that I’ve developed to turn overthinking into one of my most powerful friends.

1. Create different identities for yourself and embrace them

This is going to sound a little crazy, but I guarantee you that it’s going to reduce the impact of overthinking.

You need to create different identities in your mind, and embrace them fully.

For example, residing in my mind is the “insecure Justin” who always questions what I’m doing, particularly when I’m talking to a girl I like or I’m about to go into a business meeting.

There’s also the “angry Justin” who gets pissed off at all of the injustice around, or when bullies overpower people to get what they want.

There’s a different Justin for almost everything.

Whenever I find myself overthinking, I just stop and listen to all these different versions of me. I hear them out.

What I find by doing this is that I create a different relationship with my thoughts. Instead of me actually becoming the “insecure Justin”, I feel a little more separated from this identity.

I don’t reject that side of myself as there’s often a valuable lesson to learn. I listen to these thoughts. But I know the thoughts aren’t me.

2. Learn to meditate with this simple “trick”

Check out the video below where I explain a simple “trick” to meditation I learned from Alan Watts.

The trick here is to enter the meditative state by being aware of all of the sounds around you. Listen to the sounds the way you listen to music. When you listen to music, you don’t identify the specific chords but rather you enjoy the way the music enters you through your ears and into your body.

It’s the same with all of the sounds around you.

The next step is to do exactly the same with your thoughts. Recognize that you are not the thoughts. The thoughts are like sounds that just arise spontaneously.

Treat the thoughts as you would the chords in a song that’s playing in the background. Enjoy that they’re present and then let them go.

This way you can disassociate from the thoughts and just observe their presence.

3. Enjoy the struggle of being an overthinker

When you can create these different identities inside yourself and detach from your thoughts, you’ll have made significant progress in creating a different relationship with your overthinking.

The final step is to start enjoying the struggle that comes with being an overthinker.

I realize now that my overthinking is one of my most powerful allies. I’m a very analytical person and I’ve transformed this from neuroticism into one of my strengths.

Ideapod was born from my overthinking. I needed a place to house all of the ideas I had where I could also connect with people who thought in similar ways.

Probably the biggest change in my life is that I’ve started to enjoy being an overthinker. I realize that I enjoy spending time with thoughtful people. I like that I’m always analyzing what’s going on around me.

I now have a different relationship with all of these thoughts running around in my head. I like the struggle that has come from overthinking.

Are you also an overthinker? Has overthinking created massive challenges in your life or have you managed to turn it into a powerful ally? Let me know in the comments below.

(NOTE: Do you want to finally stop your overthinking using the secrets of shamanism? Yes, it’s possible! We share exactly how in this free salon conversation with the shaman Rudá Iandê. You can register for free here: How to turn overthinking into your greatest strength (free salon).)

NOW WATCH: 5 simple ways to stop overthinking (that actually work)

NOW READ: 10 things overthinkers always do (but never talk about)

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

12 Comments

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  1. Well!
    its being a long time am suffering from this deadly disease.which is overthinking. I was used to spent most of my time in mind. I was like a major over thinker. I always use to make myself perfect even knowing that am already perfect.
    Secondly there were some bad incident in Past which lead me towards this state . I was half paralyzed and i had no concern with daily life. I made myself isolate. There was an infinite loop of over thinking in my mind.

    It was really hard and tough time for me to cope with.

    After all i made little plans to come out of this bad habit.
    First and formost step was to start living in present. And i thought that past is just a time which has gone and wont be back.

    This article was very helpful for me to cope with my bad mental thinking.
    I Appreciate the effort mad to prepare this article.

  2. I struggle with high anxiety and mild depression. I overthink every situation in everything I do it’s tiring and draining. I can’t turn my brain off which makes it hard to sleep. I fear my own thoughts and always think of the negative outcomes in everything I do. I put myself down but my brain can’t help it. I struggle to see the good in my own life and can’t help but pick on all the negatives I can never live up to my own self worth or expectations. Over thinking and analysing drains my every day. It’s hard to just shut off the thoughts

  3. I completely relate to this article.. It’s just that whatever you said in words, I automatically did that or it happened naturally..overthinking, over analyzing, ruminating have been my issue forever.. But only last one or two year the irritation changed.. And I started appreciating the natural talent.. By being observant, I knew I have different personalities and from feeling to being schizophreniac to having DID, I thought everything.. I easily get into a conversation with anyone and everyone in my head.. For example with what I read now, if I saw your name and I know I have thoughts about it, which am expressing but after am done, the rumination, flashback would start anytime after this and I could easily start conversation where I would be myself telling more things, sharing and also see you,hear all your different questions and will keep replying, discussing.. It gets difficult to pause Untill all my different personality with different assumptions, mindset have kept their opinion, knowledge etc.. So I truly relate to it.. Prayers for us is like meditation, but the thoughts are on and I get brightest of idea, relativity, connection with visuals, flashbacks during prayer or working quietly or bathing.. I don’t know what to do with it.. Except I do comment on different article and share opinion and some of my friend who exist for namesake on social media, do surprise me when they are in need for some peace during their mental confusion and depression.. I appreciate your idea pod.. Wish you all the best with it.. Like you I have realised it’s some blessing and not ailment.. Like the movie “Lucy” and many thought provoking ones..

  4. I am a big time over thinker. One moment I am happy with my life and the very next moment I start to drown in my own self doubt. And once I sit and start to think, these thoughts keep coming back stronger and with more justifications.

    I hope I can make it into a stronger ally by following these steps. Thank you very much 🙂

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