“Whether you think you can,
or you think you can't.
- Henry Ford -
I guess we all keep constantly thinking about all kinds of things. No matter if they are good or bad. You think about something and just can't clear your mind from it. But did you know, that you will have more success and less stress with less thinking? When you overthink something, you're standing in your own way. It has a lot to do with it, because you produce these thoughts yourself. And these thoughts are blocking you. So let's have a look at the different steps and how they can help you to achieve less stress and more success in your life. The equation is very simple and as the title already said:
Less thinking = less stress + more success
By less thinking, you also create less stress in yourself. After all, we all want less stress. If you have a certain problem and don't know how to solve it, then read the article "How to stop worrying".
It is rather the case with this article that you discipline yourself or get used to not think so much anymore. Because thinking about something too much, is the cause of a lot of stress. You just put yourself under too much pressure. This has different reasons and the things you think about can be completely of different nature. Yet many underestimate the art of "not thinking". You may know this situation:
- Not sleeping at night, because you have to process/rethink something.
- To be more upset about the discussions of a disturbing thing than about the thing itself
- You know the solution, but still everything buzzes around in your head and follows you around.
- Standing in your own way and badmouthing yourself
- Not encouraging yourself, but instead seeing everything as impossible and too difficult.
Repeating old conversations over and over again like a film.
I knew this all too well. When you're standing in your own way, you don't usually talk to yourself in a friendly way. Yes, you don't treat yourself very well and that has to stop as soon as possible. If you treat yourself badly or don't like yourself at all, then read this article about self-acceptance. It might help you.
Remember, You are perfectly fine the way You are! Everybody needs a fine-tuning and you can only get it, by getting used to positive habits and getting rid of negative ones. That just needs some time and self-criticism.
IMPORTANT: A positive and constructive self-criticism! So, take your time and analyze your character. What do you like, what don't you like?!
Now we want to dedicate ourselves to the annoying overthinking. By thinking too much you get yourself frustrated. And the simple approach, which will perhaps displease you because it is so banal, is as follows:
Force yourself not to think about an unpleasant thing
and/or complain about it.
Exactly! Don't complain loudly or quietly. Suppress these thoughts. This advice may seem ridiculous to you, but think about it and you will see what a blessing it will be for your soul. Of course you get angry from time to time, but even then you must force yourself not to let yourself go. Just stop it. Control your emotions.
Think about flowers, butterflies, about your partner (unless he/she is actually the cause of your anger.....oh even then. Think about the beautiful moments you shared together), about friends, about wonderful days or just how you relax at the beach. Relaxation is the key word here. Try to concentrate on your breath, your surroundings, and your current activity.
This is a typical discipline of Buddhist meditation. You perform an activity in a concentrated way and do not try to be distracted by anything. No matter if you sweep the floor or sit on a chair. Sweep and sit and nothing else. The art of Chinese calligraphy with brush and ink is regarded as an intensive form of meditation and inner balance. This also exists in a modern version, the so-called Lettering. Google the expression on occasion.
So if that helps you, just do something. Force yourself to do it and concentrate. Sitting there and pondering doesn't help you a bit. Try to approach your problems objectively and find a solution. With thoughts in the shape of a vicious circle, from which you can't escape, but just step deeper into it, won't make you happy.
An example: It annoys you that person XY does the same annoying thing over and over again. OK. Complaining and thinking about how unacceptable XY behaves doesn't solve the problem! What can you do, so that you really feel better? Avoid the person, confront him, beat him up??? No, I'd rather not do the last one.
Find a solution! Help yourself and don't sink into a swamp of thoughts. Don't doubt yourself, go for it, because unfinished business only makes you lose your mind. Psychologists found out that people who strongly doubt themselves have to process excessive information. This naturally leads to stress, mental exhaustion and lethargy.
No wonder, I can only say. All this brooding and the abundance of (unnecessary) information simply overwhelms our brain at some point, like a computer processor that has to process too many jobs at once. This can cause real damage to our character. Let's directly eliminate the root of this problem.
The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Once you realize that you are thinking too much about something, your next step is to solve it and not just think about it. If you never realized, that you were thinking so much about your problems, then...well, how can you change something you don't even know it is a problem? Now you know it, so try to change it. Stop overthinking.
A family member of mine is not even 60, but I've rarely seen someone so fragile. She regularly sleeps very little and her health is not very good, although she neither smokes, drinks nor is overweight. But she is insecure and constantly under stress. That's because she can't let go. She thinks and thinks and thinks and thinks about all kinds of things on this earth. Probably even about things in the universe and beyond. This causes the insomnia. Apart from the health aspects, how beautiful or happy can such a life be? Always under pressure, because every bill, every conversation, just everything is a reason to exploit the topic down to the last detail.
That can drive you crazy! Something like that puts a person under a lot of negative stress. The sensation of stress varies slightly from person to person. However, they have one thing in common and that is the constant release of the stress hormone cortisol. A permanently elevated cortisol level doesn't just make you fat, because it releases more fatty acids and stores them in cells, but there are many other symptoms such as poor concentration, fatigue, easy irritability, mood swings, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, diarrhea, muscle tension, weak immune system, sex laziness... just to name a few.
All this sounds like a lot of things I really wouldn't want to have. So let's avoid the stress best before it leads to a burnout. And you can achieve that by getting used to a new ability, which is: DO NOT OVERTHINK THAT MUCH! Yes exactly, it's the same old song again and again. But try it. Mark the days in your calendar when you were relaxed with a red marker. To get a new habit you usually need about 3 months until it becomes a permanent habit. But what a 3 months compared to a less stressful life.
I recently came across the following short video, which also gave me the inspiration for this article. It is a video that illustrates a simple thing. And that's that you cause a lot of stress just by thinking about your problems. If one prevents this, this helps immensely. The video has a duration of less than 2 minutes. So you haven't lost anything if you watch it before we continue. I'd recommend it.
The analogy of this video is the following:
Holding the glass stands for thinking of all the worries in your life. If you put it down or stop thinking about it, the problem will not go away, but it will not continue to harm you.
I experienced it the same way. Through regular meditation, working out and emotionally controlling myself, I was able to make myself stop thinking about everything and just put the glass down. Whether you meditate, do sports or something completely different is of course up to you. Find a way for yourself to reduce your stress. No matter how much you get upset or think, a passed thing has passed and you can't change it anymore. All efforts are in vain. So you should focus on the future and how to solve your problems pragmatically. Make a plan, work it out and put it into practice. And that leads us to the last point.
I told you, you should make a plan for yourself. Not necessarily on paper, but you have to solve your problems in one way or another. But it's not just about your worries. It is primarily about thinking about your problems. You start to stand in your own way, because you don't just think about your problems, no, also about things you would like to have and achieve or things that frighten you. An annoying thought here, a doubt there, a bad judgement from time to time. These are all things that are mostly caused by self-doubt. So let us not doubt any further, let us approach the issue.
Just as the quote at the beginning of this article says so beautifully: "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't. You're right." Exactly! That's a fact, just as Schrödinger's cat is dead and alive at the same time, so are your dreams. And your dreams have nothing to do with theories of quantum mechanics. They have to do with you and what you make with them.
If they stay inside your head, you block yourself. These dreams constantly buzz around in front of your inner eye. But they don't please you, they annoy you, mock you. Situations you will never reach. If you think like that, then these dreams are really only dreams. But when you get into action, you can achieve them. I don't want to tell you here that you have to move your ass, in order to achieve anything. I think that's clear to everyone. You just have to stop getting yourself down with that thoughts. There are two ways to do that:
You either stop worrying immediately and train this new habit of not overthinking
you solve your problems and fulfill your dreams. Because then there is nothing left to think about.
But some things can't be solved that easily and yet they just won't let you go. It is especially important not to waste your brain capacity. Concentrate on things you enjoy. Here are two practical advice that work surprisingly well and make you more successful, if you follow them regularly.
My practical advice number 1:
Speak in a nice way to yourself! Talk yourself into positive things. The following sentences should become your mantra. Regarding your goals:
"I can do this! Even if it gets difficult, I learn it, practice it, repeat it until I can do it and am satisfied!
Or regarding your worries:
"I'll find a solution, if I take an objective approach. I can solve this problem, there is always a solution. Just like any problem I've solved before".
And especially when you're troubled by disturbing thoughts:
"This thinking is pointless. I'll look for a possible solution now. If there is none, then further thinking is useless. I will dedicate my time to the beautiful things in my life".
Stand in front of the mirror or repeat the words above every time before you go to bed. Stop your annoying and negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Because if you only think about how much you still got to do, it will stress you, but none of it will be done. It will only fill up your head and slow down your drive for action.
My practical advice number 2:
Make a To-Do Liste! You heard it correctly...or read it. I already mentioned this in another article. A to-do list is not only a great way to get your things done, but the main focus is:
You don't have to keep in mind what you have on your to-do list.
Exactly. Remember that. I used to keep all doctor's appointments, meetings, etc. in mind. Too often it happened that I missed them. Something like that shouldn't be a permanent condition. I found a solution through the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. The book was very interesting and not without a reason a bestseller for years. It shows some practical methods. However, I only picked out the things that were useful to me. There are people who like to plan their whole day from A to Z. That is very admirable, but for me personally it would be just too much effort. That's why I'm introducing a more simple method.
1.) Get a calendar: Whether one made of paper on the wall or one on an electronic device. I'd recommend one on a smartphone, so you always have it with you. The advantage is that it, like the Google calendar, writes you a mail before the appointment or notifies you with another warning.
Write all your important appointments or arranged meetings in your calendar. (Hairdresser/Barber appointments, work assignments, doctor visits, dates, even family visits. We do not want, that Uncle Bilbo is waiting in front of a locked door.) So you won't miss any more appointments of any kind.
2.) Get a To-Do-List: You can choose between analog or digital again. Experience shows that it's easier to write down to-do's, in the moment you think of them. That's why I tend to go back to the smartphone. You can also share lists with other people, such as a shopping list. There are to-do list apps for mobile phones which can make an entry in your calendar right away. This is very practical.
Create at least 2 to-do lists. One for urgent matters (best name this list "Do it NOW!") and one for less urgent matters. Of course you can also go by category, e.g. one for work, errands, general, etc. The only important thing is that there is always the list "Do it NOW!". A phone call with your accountant, a bank transfer, an appointment for today, these are all things that are done in a few minutes and fall into the urgent category. Do the most important and the shortest first. Your entries should always include a verb and look like this:
- "Call the accountant."
- "Buy eggs."
- "Clean the bathroom"
- "Put an ad on eBay."
- "Change the tires"
That way you have a verb in it that tells you exactly what to do. This is a simple psychological method to make you do something. Look on your list at least once a day, preferably always at the same time. What have you done already, what needs to be added?! Write down pretty much. Of course it doesn't have to be everything. But things like: posting letters, sweeping the stairs, etc. will help you immensely. Because what you don't have in your mind anymore, because it is on your list, gives you the opportunity to let go. Why think about it and desperately try not to forget anything when you can outsource all this information. So get yourself a to-do list.
I recommend two apps for this:
one is Wunderlist. A simple app that lets you create and share endless lists. Entries in the calendar are possible here.
- For example, if you are bored of normal lists, you should take a look at Habitica. This app tries to combine your to-do list with gamification, a simple roleplaying game. You get experience points for doing things on the list and much more. Very funny and entertaining principle.
And the biggest advantage is that it takes a maximum of 2 minutes a day and what you remove from your brain is no longer there. As they say so nicely: "Out of sight, out of mind."
It's actually not that easy to just let go of some things. Therefore a new habit is required. In the beginning it will be hard not to think about something. It doesn't matter if it actually happened or not. You have to overcome yourself and remind yourself again and again: "My thoughts are just running wild. I end this now and will speak positively to myself."
If others don't speak in a nice way to you, or even if they do, at least you should speak nicely to you. Like a child who just doesn't know any better. But you work on it and learn new things. Some just need time. Be patient with yourself. Organize your life a little better and bring in a new structure. A calendar and a to-do list are the 101 to implement something. Above all, you don't have to overload your brain's computing power, if a simple list can do it. Stay tuned and you'll see success soon.
I hope the article was helpful for you. If so, then share it, so others like you can also benefit from it. I wish YOU the best.
- LdR -