Yea I know.. if it was that easy to stop we wouldn’t find ourselves in a generation saturated in insomniacs, hypochondriacs…pretty much everything-iacs. If it was a simple task to put an end to the never-ending cycle of thoughts and anxieties that wurr around inside my noggin, I would have nipped it in the bud 25 odd years ago, or whenever it was that I realised I had an all too inmate ability to think things over to an extent that’s hugely detrimental to my ability to enjoy life and live in the now. However, despite the horror that was 2016, this last year some elements of my personal story have gifted me with the knowledge that being a doer rather than a thinker can deliver some pleasing and life improving results or moments.
I’ve been festering on this earth long enough to know that the majority of my resolutions,hopes or changes for the upcoming year wont occur, happen, reveal themselves, pan out (and so on,) exactly how I intend, in fact some of them won’t happen at all. Sometimes what actually does happen is completely different to what you envisaged or dreamed, but its so much better or valuable than your original plan. Sometimes you will do a fraction of the totality of that given goal or find yourself backtracking or deviating from it at times or weakness or distraction. On a rare or wondrous occasion you will smash that target out of the park, so much so you’ll feel it necessary to to do a not so humble self congratulatory brag on the interweb. But maybe what happens with your list of goals/resolutions/targets for the year doesn’t matter though. Perhaps the action of forcing yourself to look at yourself, your life, and the way you choose to live it, is an important step in terms of self awareness and self improvement. By simply recognising your faults, the patterns you find yourself repeating, the areas of your life that need a push, or the ones that need to simmer down, is already a significant step in the right direction, and a great way to shift your brain into a motivated and positive mindset for the upcoming twelve months.
It’s only 3 days into 2017, so I can’t pretend that there’s any guarantee that this will continue, but so far I’ve kept myself so busy with work, socialising, or bum clenching (I’m determined to get one of those rounded Instagram butts for the summer) that I haven’t had time to overthink, well at least not about anything that isn’t fun to overthink about. I’ve definitely been overthinking about how dreamy Ryan Gosling is going to be in La La Land and about how much Yule Log I’m going to devour in my mid afternoon snack session. Every morning I’ve decided to just get up and ‘do’.
I’ve not been looking at my Twitter or Instagram barely at all, because I know that looking at what other bloggers and YouTubers are doing content wise tends to derail me somewhat, or make me worry about my lackings in #ad posts, top of the range equipment, new outfits or cool YouTuber mates etc. Rather than worry what everyone else is up to, I’ve just been focusing on my day and how I want to use it effectively but also in a way that makes me as full as joy as possible.
I spoke earlier about some moments that made me realise that doing rather than thinking can be rather efficient to one’s happiness levels, so I guess I should back this up with some examples. I had a rather odd urge to become a redhead. It came from nowhere and with no apparent reason behind it. I wonder now whether I was hoping the ‘fiery redhead’ stereotype would turn out to be true and turn me into someone far better at coping with those toxic people that make your life ever so tricky. Perhaps the redhead would install some gusto and inner heat that would allow me to be a bit more ferocious when needed. Perhaps I hoped a change in appearance would signal a new (and more successful) era of ‘The Egg”, or maybe I felt the new look might cause some kind of shift to occur. On this occasion I decided to give in to that yearning straight away and just do it – rather than do my usual internal to and fro over a period of days/weeks/months where I weigh up the pros and imagined and over exaggerated possible cons. As soon as I saw the results in the mirror I knew I’d made the right choice – my head based renovation gave me a boost that I very much needed. The change made me enjoy dressing again because I found myself wearing different things from my wardrobe that complimented by red hair more than it did my former blonde. I found myself experimenting with my make up and having a bit more fun with it. I still can’t quite grasp how exactly I felt, as this new flame haired female, but I definitely felt different and at that point in time a change was definitely what I needed. And Weirdly I feel more myself than I have in years with this new look.
Then there were some instances with my work. I had lots of ideas to do with ventures outside of YouTube/Blogging, as well as new elements and ideas for my channel. Rather than get going and just bloody getting eff on with it I procrastinated, letting fear once again halt my progress. I found myself letting the same old thoughts interrupt my brainstorms so it didn’t even get to the point of action and the fun bit of turning the ideas into a reality. I’d worry that I wasn’t good enough and people might think ‘Who does she think she is trying to do that’. I worried that my lack of professional equipment or budget to hire people who do have it, would mean I woudn’t be able to achieve a finish I would be happy and proud of, and that people would appreciate. I worried about failure, that no one would be interested and that people would notice that it had tanked. The list was endless. Then of course other, more gutsy and ‘just do it’ type people created and put out ideas similar to mine and found great success and reward in doing so, leaving me feeling regr and kicking myself very hard. This leads to more negativity because you realise that you resent yourself even more than you would have if you’d just grabbed the idea by the horn (that’s not an expression) tried it and failed.
Then there was the thing I did despite the onslaught of doubting thoughts that pummelled my head as soon as the email came through asking me to do it. They enquired whether I’d be willing to be one of the presenters for Darknesstival – a fan convention and gig taking place at the Inidgo o2. Public speaking is pretty much my idea of a nightmare, I’d rather take part in a bush-tucker trial, lose my virginity all over again, or lick the space between someones toes (you get the idea), but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I said no then someone else took the job and got something great out of it. At that point I was fed up of constantly living with regret and wondering what might have been, so replied positively within a few minutes. Boy did I dread that date, part of me hoped we’d all get wiped out by some killer virus before December 18th came around. But I just kept reminding myself that even if the worst thing does happens it would not be the end of the world – the worst thing being falling over on stage and completely freezing and not being able to utter a single word. Plus it’s only one day, and if I could get through it, and survive fairly unscathed by the experience, I’d come out a stronger person with something fairly cool on my CV. So to fast forward a bit…I did get through it, and I was actually on stage for such a small amount of time that I was annoyed that I’d put myself through so much anguish on the run up to the event. Okay so I wasn’t as articulate, funny, or as relaxed as I’d like to be, and I repeated the word ‘incredible’ multiple times when my brain failed to deliver another positive adjective. But… I didn’t fall down, walk on stage with my skirt tucked in my granny pants, nor did I get heckled…so I think we can call that a victory. I can’t tell you how good it feeled to have done it too, knowing that if you push yourself to do something out of your comfort zone you can be rewarded. Okay it may not lead to more work of that kind, but I got some lovely tweets lovely tweets from some Darkness fans who reaffirmed that I didn’t fudge it up and it just felt great that I’d had the guile to face one of my biggest fears. So what I’m saying is that sometimes you should say yes to things, before you brain gets a chance to talk you out of it. The rewards you could get out of endlesss – the feeling of achievement, the overcoming of ones fears, meeting people at said opportunity, adding to your life experience quota, fiscal rewards and so on.
I think a lot of my overthinking stems from aspects of life as an evolving adult in 2017 – namely social media. Yep.. it’s that blasted social media rearing it’s head in a post about a negative personality trait again. But I just can’t overstate how dangerous it is, and it’s potential for diminishment of one’s sense of self, happiness, contentment, perspective and so much more. Before I start blasting it again I’ll get the relevant point for this particular post. Back in the good old days you’d just get on with your day, do your work, see your friends, just live life in your way without much thought about anyone else, aside from the people in your close circles. We would have only a very small amount of knowledge of everyone else’s lives – the fails, the successes, the inner workings. You might hear the big news through the grapevine or from a catch up text, letter, or phone call but the intricacies of the day, or their opinions on daily events were generally omitted from our awareness. Today we have a continuous stream we have access to 24/7 and as a blogger I have to pay attention to this, more than is probably healthy. We now know hundreds/thousands of peoples achievements, what they’ve bought, what they’re wearing, what they think, who they thinks cool, who they want to be be affiliated with, what their social plans are, how many friends/followers they have…and not only that, we’re also informed via likes, retweets and views just how interesting that information is to people. Aren’t we lucky!??
How can this information not impact how we feel about our own lives? How can it not affect how we feel about the way we look? How can it not cause us to spend more dwelling on the decisions we make past and future?
So what can do to try and combat this issue that is undoubtedly compounded by the pressure cooking/magnifying glass of a world we live in today?
Tips To Stop Overthinking
As I always say, I don’t pretend to know it all, otherwise I’d be doing a lot better at life than I am right now, but I am getting a little wiser each year….I hope
Stopwatch Your Decision
If you have a decision to make perhaps you should give yourself a limit in terms of the amount of time you are allowed to take to before you come to a conclusion and make a call on it. Be strict with yourself and make sure you stick to the time-frame.
Analyze The Situation
Write a pros and cons list, but ensure that each point is rational and thought out – when we are fearful of something we tend to focus to heavily on certain aspects of over exaggerate the possible negative outcomes.
Talk it Out
Talk through the the thing that is causing you to overthink with someone else. They can be a voice of reason and give a point of view that isn’t influenced by your fears, past experiences etc.
When I’m out taking pictures I find myself focusing on moment, the sight in front of me, the composition and the happiness I feel in the process of taking pictures. It may not be photography for you, but whatever it is that you have in your life that forces you to live in the moment…do more of it.
Create A Routine
If you form one that keeps your day jam-packed, it means that you will be left with little time to do that pesky overthinking. My boyfriend Si says that having a plan of action for the day and dividing it into the different activities helps eg. Gym, emails, cooking, food shop, band practice. I asked whether he finds himself overthinking while working out or running on the treadmill,l but he says he tends to find that productive thought – he gains clarity from those moments of being lost in thought, it doesn’t wear into the negative or the realms of overthinking.
Ask yourself why you have have these nags and doubts, or a tendency to go over and over things. Are there people in your life that cast a shadow on your opinions, ideas or self worth? I can’t help but wonder whether if I’d find myself stewing over stuff in the time if I surrounded myself with people that made me feel better about myself and therefore trusting of my own powers, talents and instincts.
If it’s the same themes that are clouding your brain time after time and you can’t seem to find a way to deal with them in a rational and productive way it may be worthwhile seeking professional help. Perhaps talking with a therapist will lead you to finding out the route of them, and therefore helping you find a way to eradicate or at least cope/function with them. By being able to talk freely to someone regularly it may mean that they are less inclined to fill your head, as some of the pressure/questions will be relieved on a frequent basis.
Social Media Diet
Get off Social Media a bit more often. Ideally I wouldn’t be on it at all, but that’s impossible if it is a vital part of your working life. So I’d just say that limit yourself or reduce as much as you can. I’ve started to only log on to reply to messages and comments and to post, I very rarely scroll or stalk other people’s pages now. I’ve found that seeing everyone’s posts voicing opinions, judgements, or sharing their personal successes does nothing but make me worry about my own journey or way I’m doing things and doubts and insecurities start weadling their way in.
Listen To Your Gut
More often than not we know what the right decision is and if we just went with our initial automatic feeling we’d do the right thing, but the longer we wait the more opportunity there is for those nagging doubts to creep in and ruin your positive party. Obviously if you are one of those people that has an unhealthy gut maybe ignore this point and drink more yoghurt.
I have always tended to do my overthinking when the lightswitch goes off at bed time. I’d combat it by distracting myself by the TV. Now I have a boyfriend that requires quiet for sleepy-time I can no longer fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Dave Brent or Kim Cattral rogering. So I’ve had to try alternatives to stop the never-ending trail of tangents in my head. There’s meditating and mindfulness apps you can listen to (with earphones so you don’t awaken the beast sleeping by your side) or books that can make you so drowsy you no longer have the capacity to think at all.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you make some more impulsive and spontaneous decisions you will start to see the fun that can come from removing in depth though processes. A go with the flow, devil may care attitude can be extremely feeling and inject a vigour back into a life that may have felt a bit stale of late.
Hope they may help at least one of your reading.
They are just some ideas I could think of right now, but please if you have more tips we can share amongst ourselves in the comments section, let’s do it. Let’s free ourselves from the maddening shackles of overthinking for a higher percentage of time than last year at least eh?
I know that as hard as I try to stop overthinking completely, this quest for complete mental freedom is futile. I know that when I enter a period of depression this tendency goes into overdrive, and it is unlikely I’ll go through a year without more than a few dark periods. However my determination to keep busy, and be a do-er rathe than a thinker, will mean that there may be less chance of those darker days taking a full grasp. If I don’t get to the point where my motivation to create work dwindles, I won’t have those quiet moments that lead to my intense periods of dwelling and over-analysis.
Thanks for reading…Lots of love xxx