Have you seen images of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker? This iconic statue seems lost in his contemplation. Is he brainstorming or enduring the emotional distress of overthinking everything?
Maybe you can relate to this stressful habit that affects countless people. Simply put, overthinking is worrying. It’s needless to stress whether it is a life-altering decision or choosing what to wear to a party.
Eleven Key Signs That You May Be an Overthinker
Are you just highly cautious, or do you overthink too much? It’s normal to stress a little over decisions, but not until it affects your daily activities. Here are some common signs of worrying and overthinking:
- You are always wondering “what if” and “if only”
- You replay embarrassing or painful moments in your mind.
- You’re constantly second-guessing the actions and comments of others.
- You constantly relive mistakes from the past.
- You replay conversations and rewrite them how you wish they would have been.
- You’re lacking sleep well because of your brain’s constant chatter.
- You replay hurtful words and actions from other people.
- You can’t enjoy the present because you constantly fret about the past and future.
- You’ll often focus on circumstances you can’t control.
- You tend to be a “worrywart.”
- You can’t get your mind off your worries.
The underlying reason that most people overthink is the desire to control. An article published by Changing Minds says that humans need a sense of control. You can feel insecure and threatened without it, as stated in the report.
Why Overthinking Causes Emotional Distress?
While you may have a sense of control, things in your life are beyond your command and stressful. Overthinking might seem to help manage the situation, but it’s only an illusion. These are eight reasons why overthinking and worrying can cause you emotional distress.
1. You Feel Emotional Distress When You Can’t Control Everything
No matter how hard you try and how much you overthink, you can’t control everything. There are people and situations in your life that you can’t change, and you must comprehend the things you’re powerless over. However, overthinkers often bypass reality by managing everything in their lives.
Such needless thinking can cause emotional distress and make your situation worse. For example, will you ever change a coworker’s negative attitude by worrying about it? Or how can worrying help a family member who is bent on self-destruction and refuses any assistance?
2. It May Boost Your Insecurities
The more you stress and overthink situations, the less self-confident you feel. Ruminating about the past often increases the volume of your negative inner voice. You constantly run the scenarios through your brain like a never-ending video loop.
Unfortunately, no amount of re-thinking these instances will change anything. Then, you may feel pessimistic about the future and think that you’ll fail at everything. This emotional distress may become a pattern that leads to a lack of self-confidence and self-respect.
3. It Minimizes Your Positive Energy
Thinking is your brain’s process of forming opinions and beliefs, whether positive or negative. When you think about something too much, you may minimize your positive energy. You need positive affirmations if you expect to attract positive outcomes from the Universe.
According to the law of attraction, you attract whatever energy you send out. Positive affirmations attract positive energy, and negative ones attract more of the same. Maybe you can experience a turn-around in your life if you stop joining the crowd of overthinkers.
4. You Foster Emotional Distress If You Focus on Problems Instead of Solutions
Of course, you must define or admit there’s a problem before you can solve it. However, overthinking the issues may prevent you from finding appropriate solutions. Sometimes, you can be inspired by a solution when you’re not even worrying about the problem.
5. You May Lose Your Sense of Gratitude
Have you ever heard the old saying about the good outweighing the bad? No matter what unfavorable circumstances you face, you still have positive ones. Overthinking emphasizes the negative, and you may lose sight of your many blessings.
Plus, the emotional distress it creates may cause ingratitude. All you can ponder are your problems, and you can’t be thankful for anything. It’s a downward spiral that can lead to anxiety, depression, and dark pessimism.
6. Emotional Distress Continues When You Perpetuate the Cycle of “What if” and “If only”
Until someone invents the working time machine, you can’t go back in time to fix a mistake. No matter how you meditate, wish, and beg, it’s not going to happen. How many times have you started a sentence with “what if” and “if only?”
The desire to change the past is a normal human response. What if your ex-partner had been faithful? If only you had been wise about your spending, you wouldn’t be in financial trouble.
Do statements like this sound familiar? Not only are “what if” and “if only” messages unhelpful, but they set negative precedence. You’re too preoccupied with the past to live in the present.
7. Overthinking Can Affect Your Mental Health
Have you ever felt secure and joyful when you’re overthinking things? Instead, the emotional distress probably makes you feel sad and hopeless. An article published by PsychAlive explains that overthinking may lead to the most common mental illnesses.
Constantly questioning yourself not only erodes your confidence but can lead to anxiety. You’re always worried that you’re making the wrong decision, no matter how sensible it is. Chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to physical problems like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke.
8. It Can Limit Your Creativity
Listening to your inner voice is part of your imagination and creativity. However, using it negatively can hinder them. Creativity often requires spontaneity and being confident with your choices.
Think of all the masterpieces of art, literature, and music that have graced the world since the beginning. What if these gifted creators would have overthought their work and tossed it? There would be a lonely void left across the globe.
How to Overcome Overthinking and Emotional Distress Triggers
Don’t let it become another issue if you see much of yourself in these scenarios. You don’t want to identify the problem and become worried about overthinking. There are positive ways you can overcome your thinking addiction and be more assured of yourself.
1. Divide Your Worries
Consider making a list of the current problems that give you emotional distress. Write whatever comes to mind, whether you think it’s essential or not. Now, take another sheet of paper, make two columns: Solvable and Unsolvable, and categorize your worries.
Solvable worries are situations where you can identify cause and effect and figure out viable solutions. Unsolvable worries aren’t so concrete and have components beyond your control. Focus on things you can change instead of things you can’t.
2. Schedule Time to Worry
It may seem silly at first, but it’ll make more sense as you get used to doing it. Instead of allowing overthinking to monopolize your time, make a daily schedule for it. It’s a lot easier than trying to thwart the habit all at once.
Schedule twenty or thirty minutes each day to sit, close your eyes, and worry. Give yourself permission to fret and worry about anything, everything, and anyone. Write it on a worry list as you give attention to each worry.
When your timer buzzes, you’re finished with overthinking. For the rest of the day, resolve to be worry-free and not second-guess yourself. If a rogue worry slips into your mind, write it down as a worry for your next session.
Reflect over your list during each scheduled session and see how you feel about it presently. These sessions may give you different perspectives and help you find solutions. Some may discover that some of your worries are out of your control.
3. Meditation Decreases Emotional Distress
One of the best ways to bring yourself into the present is to meditate. Dedicate a quiet place in your home to meditate for 15 to 30 minutes daily. It can be a spare room or even a cozy little corner in your bedroom.
Wherever you create your sacred space, it should be a space of beauty, calm, and solitude. You are mindful of each breath as your body relaxes at the moment. As you focus on breathing, be aware of your thoughts and allow them to dissipate like vapors.
Feel free to adorn your sacred space with colors and items that make you smile and are emotionally significant. Light candles and your favorite incense to encourage you to relax. However, you can sit or lie down in the space where you feel the most comfortable.
Meditation gives your mind a break from chronic overthinking. If your mind wanders, gently acknowledge it and bring yourself back into focus. This ancient practice teaches you the joy of being present.
Final Thoughts on the Emotional Distress That Results from Overthinking
There’s a difference between making informed decisions and overthinking everything. Once you’ve identified that overthinking is a problem, you can take positive steps to overcome it.
You’ll have freedom from emotional distress and more energy to live in the present. It’s time to stop ruminating and start living life to the fullest.