There are times in life where we feel that things aren’t how we’d like them to be or how they ‘should’ be. We then fall into the trap of overthinking in a feeble attempt to find the solutions to our problems yet as Einstein says,
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Albert Einsten
Overthinking will never provide the clarity we desire since that’s what got us feeling so crap in the first place! It’s a vicious circle as we start to observe our life, think about what we’re unhappy with, go down an endless pit of over-analysing the problems in the hopes to find a solution, realise we’re creating problems that we didn’t even notice before, start to overthink every aspect of life as if we need to fix it (when in fact life is never ‘broken’ or something that needs ‘fixing’), then we’ll notice we’re overthinking everything and so worry about that, and then stress ourselves out trying to stop overthinking and so on it goes.
“Too much thinking leads to paralysis by analysis.” – Robert Herjavec
In my own personal experience, overthinking tends to stem from feelings of ‘not good enough.’
“I’m not good enough.”
“My job isn’t good enough.”
“My house isn’t good enough.”
“My life isn’t good enough.”
While it’s normal and healthy to look at our external world and think about what we’d like to improve, there’s a difference between being in a state of flow and working towards that improvement and being in a state of displeasure and working hard to change everything. The former acknowledges that you have the power to improve your life but you’re not dependent on those external circumstances to feel good, therefore you’re not questioning your self worth. Whereas the latter projects feelings of resistance to what-is wherein everything is perceived as wrong, incomplete and a failure. These labels and judgements can then result in feelings of apathy, unworthiness, self blame or self doubt. Pitiful thoughts such as the following start to creep in,
“What am I doing with my life?”
“I’m such a failure because I’m not where I should be in life.”
“Maybe I’m just not good enough otherwise I’d have everything I want.”
Yes we all have goals we’re working towards, yes we each want to fulfill our potential as an individual, yes we want to live the best life possible however feeling sorry for yourself or putting so much pressure on yourself to obtain those achievements will not and does not work. Those thoughts and feeling only cause more grief and so solace seems even further away.
Our ego-mind believes that peace, self worth and fulfilment is elsewhere; it’s anywhere but here. Thoughts such as “I will feel good enough when I have that dream job” or “I will feel loved when I have the perfect relationship” are filled with insecurity and they’re fixated on outer events as if those events will give us salvation from the inner turmoil we feel. Not only do we become attached to the outer world but we start to base our identity on it as if having a lot to show for yourself makes you a better person. Yet it’s when we’re going with the flow of life and doing what makes us happy without overthinking that we have all of the energy and inspiration we want to naturally become the amazing person we’re striving way too hard to be.
Detach yourself from your overthinking and from looking to your outer world to find the feelings of peace and worthiness you so truly want and which are already ever-present.
“But if I just accept my life as it is when I now see there are so many things I’m unhappy with, I need to think about them in order to make a change” is the next thought that may appear. There’s a false belief that by accepting and surrendering to the present moment and life circumstances we will not elicit any change, as if appreciating what-is will make us complacent, yet life is ever-changing. It is this resistance to the present moment which creates suffering and as a result makes us feel like we’re stuck in a rut.
I can look back on my life at moments where I could say my life wasn’t ‘perfect’ and I wasn’t where I wanted to be in certain areas yet I still got to where I needed to be and it wasn’t by overthinking; it was by enjoying my life as-is which in turn allowed room for grace and for events to effortlessly fall into place. My overthinking could not have come up with or strategised the ways I entered my desired career, the relationships that grew stronger or any events which have brought me true fulfilment and wonder.
“A Course in Miracles rightly points out that, whenever you are unhappy, there is the unconscious belief that the unhappiness “buys” you what you want. If “you” — the mind — did not believe that unhappiness works, why would you create it? The fact is, of course, that negativity does not work. Instead of attracting a desirable condition, it stops it from arising. Instead of dissolving an undesirable one, it keeps it in place. Its only “useful” function is that it strengthens the ego, and that is why the ego loves it.” – Eckhart Tolle
Our minds are wired for survival and so will naturally look for problems to solve and things to change but try not let yourself go down that dark road of overthinking. Remove yourself from those worrisome thoughts and take away their power by accepting that they’ll occur. Befriend those thoughts and your mind by giving them thanks for caring about you and your life so much! Then leave it at that and remind yourself as much as possible that you are already an amazing human being who doesn’t need to strive so hard to be happy or work so hard to prove yourself.