That’s probably the biggest reason why you’re feeling the way you are right now. The thinking here isn’t the issue at all. It’s the excessive thinking that’s the culprit.
We may not realize we’re doing it and believe that it’s not controllable, but it’s a total lie.
It was the only reason that made me believe happiness was very hard to reach. When really, happiness isn’t a feeling we need to reach or work for, but it’s one that we need to let in.
I don’t mean to say you need to stop thinking or caring about anything. These two things are fundamental in “the art of living.” They make us do what we feel, say what we feel, and ultimately make us human. And in the right proportion, give us a care-free, open mind to let happiness seep in through even those unwanted cracks in our supposedly “perfect” ideal way of life.
Here’s a simple example of what I’m trying to say:
You’re an avid TV show binge watcher. You finally finished a TV show like “Suits” and you’ve watched the entire 8 seasons in a week. Now, let’s be honest. Most of us would internally think, “Oh my god, no. It’s over. Now, what do I do with my life? Everything sucks!”
But what If I told you that thought could be replaced with this: “Oh, whoa! It’s actually over but I’m so glad my friends introduced me to it. I loved the part when Mike and Rachel got married. And Donna’s character, she’s such a strong, inspiring woman”.
I’m not going to delve into the difference between these thoughts because we have a lot still left to cover. But simply, the first is “negative” and the other “positive”.
About Negative Thinking
I’ll be honest.
I saw things negatively a lot, but being positive isn’t something that occurred to me at the moment. Even to you, it may not and it’s okay. That doesn’t mean it’ll never happen.
It will take time and effort but slowly, it will become habituated within you and eventually be a part of you.
It’s the same with overthinking.
It’s extremely difficult to change your thoughts and control what you think of and how much, but it’s not impossible.
See, I believe overthinking reflects our insecurities. I’m saying this because I realized this was happening to me. It wasn’t my insecurity towards people or things but in myself.
Why wasn’t I finding satisfaction or self-content in being alone with myself?
It’s because I wasn’t at peace with myself.
I’d constantly over think: “I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have said that. Well, I didn’t even mean it, what will they think now? You really messed up, why are you like this.”
Now, if I don’t even know why I’m like this, then I clearly haven’t spent enough time with myself.
I used to always be with people and my friends. And I thought that maybe because I’m extroverted, I enjoy the company of others. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The exact definition of an extrovert is ” an outgoing, socially confident person”. Yeah, that’s not what I was.
On Being Dependent
I used to rely on others, become dependent on them. At times, they would want their own space for themselves and I could never understand why. But anyway, I would finally leave their rooms after being with them for 23 hours, go upstairs to my room, make small talk with everyone who passes by before finally hitting my bed.
A few minutes later, staring up at the plain, white ceiling I would suddenly feel really strange. Was it unhappiness? I mean, I thought it was.
Surprise surprise, I was wrong.
That feeling wasn’t unhappiness; it was discontent. I would always rely on others, especially my friends to fill that void so that I didn’t feel it again.
That was a mistake. That discontent wasn’t because of a problem I had that day or because someone said something bad to me. It was because I may have spent time with myself for hours in a day physically but not mentally.
What I mean is that I didn’t have any clear priorities, any clear opinions or views or any goals. I spent so much time with others and worried about what they were doing or feeling that I neglected myself.
It may sound stupid but that’s genuinely how it felt. It made me feel insecure in myself and that wasn’t going to help me or anyone around me. And that same insecurity misguided me. Then, in no time at all *POOF* overthinking made an entrance.
On Knowing Yourself
We can only blame ourselves for anything that happens to us. If someone screams at me: “You’re a horrible and selfish person”, it would have driven me insane because it would make me think and think and think. But if I strongly believed that I was actually a selfless and generous person then, it wouldn’t affect me.
I should have a firm idea of what I think I am. With that, no matter what anyone says, it won’t drive me crazy, because that is basically doubting myself. Also, how you interpret what they say matters. We could all feel bad about it and mope around all day drowning in our self-pity — but don’t.
Instead, analyze what they’re trying to say and if it’s really true and even you realize how you’re behaving, then improve upon it. Take it as constructive criticism. If not, move on from it and enjoy the rest of your day regardless of what people say or do to you. Do what makes you happy.
I realized that over thinking is something I kept doing because I always thought about myself. Here’s an example:
My close friend, who usually says hello to me and greets me did none of this one day. It’s normal for anyone to think “What the hell, what did I do to her for this to happen to me?”.
See, we need to open up our minds and think instead: “She maybe going through something else of her own and doesn’t feel like talking”.
It’s something I never did till recently because I’d always think of myself and what I did to her instead of asking what’s happening with her. That’s when you over think so much over one point that every other possibility is non-existent to you. That one point being myself and another possibility as her.
We’re not the only ones facing an issue, going through rough patches or having a bad day. Literally, everyone around us is probably feeling the same about whatever it maybe. That’s when I questioned myself: “Why is it that I would become so upset that I could barely keep it in me? And how is it that they were pretty much fine when I saw them even though their professor cut 20% off their attendance for talking in class?”
It’s simple, I just never learned to let go of things.
My mind was constantly in a state of thought and it subsumed me. Is it really worth your time, energy, and even well-being to obsess over these thoughts?
They’ll always be there no matter how much you push them away. That’s why I’m saying, don’t neglect them but don’t give them much attention, either. Learn to live with them and find tranquility with them.
That’s always present all around you no matter what you are going through. It’s a constant, radiating beam that disappears from time to time. If we try hard to remove the hindrance occluding it, then it’ll come back to us again.
I’ll be frank about it — sadness is a trend in this generation. And I’m not ashamed to admit it but I was influenced by it. Although I may not have had a big reason to be sad about something, I’d create problems for myself about what I don’t have or blow up something that actually doesn’t matter.
Eventually, I end up crying about it. I used to push aside all those happy thoughts about everything that I should be grateful about and instead, put the spotlight on the negative thoughts.
The Thing About Social Media
* TING* “@overthinking101 liked your post”
Oh, look it’s social media. That’s an extremely huge contributor to how I felt. You’d be seeing the life of others and of course, become envious because it’s simply “not fair”. You’d want to have the same experiences as them, be where they are…and because you can’t *SPLASH* into the pool of self-pity and negativity we go.
The worse part was I’d gotten to the point where I’d only post for others, not for myself or my happiness. Just for the heck of it. You’re probably judging me for it but it’s fine, I’m not going to curl up into a ball of shame.
I hate to admit it but there’s a lot of us who do the same thing. We just don’t realize it. It’s not something to be ashamed of, but social media influences us a lot. I mean they send us notifications twenty times a day constantly, whether we’re sleeping, eating or even if we have the app open for god’s sake.
Why do we care so much that we need to see what others are doing constantly? Just think about it.
Isn’t it nice when you’re both sitting down over a cup of coffee and listening to their story as if you were sharing that experience with them? It’s better than seeing a photo of them, double clicking to express your so-called “reaction”, and then scrolling down again, forgetting what you just saw two seconds later.
That’s why I decided to uninstall my social media for some time. I stopped taking photos of every single thing I eat whether it’s an extravagant three-course meal or a bowl of stale cereal. It’s not important. Instead of the views or likes on your post giving happiness, be happy about that delicious food that you get to eat at that moment.
It’s hard to believe for some but there’s happiness in every little thing. It’s not something you have to look for. Actually, it’s right in front of you and you just have to open your eyes to see it. I always thought I had to do things to feel happy and if I didn’t or those things didn’t happen, I’d sit there sulking like a baby.
On Having No Expectations
Having no expectations is the best thing to do. That way, if something you didn’t expect to happen does, you’ll be overwhelmed with joy. We need to make sure we know who we are, our priorities, and our morals before anything else. Take time for yourself and think, but just the right amount.
The rest of the time, enjoy what you’re doing and I know this is cheesy, but put yourself in the moment. Don’t think about what happened before or what will happen next because it’ll trigger the ‘over’ in overthinking.
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Author: S. Rishita Kodliwadmath
I'm a medical student, who was brought up in the UK and currently studying in India. I'm writing through my experiences and what I've learnt, so that I can share it with others and hopefully they'll learn something from it. I feel it's important to address the truths in this generation and grow as people from experiences.