15 Ways to Defeat Overthinking

A life-long habit of overthinking cost me not only my peace of mind; it also fueled my chronic pain, anxiety, perfectionism, and my alcohol and drug abuse.

Even after getting sober and working a rigorous recovery program, I still had a problem with overthinking.

Now, however, I have many powerful ways to calm my mind, and I rarely have anxiety or chronic pain.

You too can overcome your overthinking problem by simply using a few of my favorite tips!

DAILY HABITS TO CALM YOUR THINKING

Consistently using any of the practices below will bring stability to your mood and mind.

Practice Gratitude. List five things you’re grateful for. Do this every day for a week, without repeating any item.

Meditate and/or Pray. Use the free app, Insight Timer or other tools. Do this every day for at least 10 minutes. It shrinks the “worry center” of the brain.

Exercise, Walk, or Do Yoga. These are proven to increase positive brain chemicals and increase happiness. 

Do Something Nice for Someone. Smile at a stranger, compliment a server, or send a friend a loving note.

Take Good Care of Yourself. Be sure you eat well and get enough rest. Especially important, drink plenty of water. Finally, don’t use food, alcohol or drugs to deal with stress.

Limit Negative Input. Give yourself permission to turn off negative TV or radio broadcasts. Avoid extended time with negative people.

Become Inspired. Listen to uplifting music or podcasts/radio. Read inspiring books or blogs. Watch a positive movie (for example, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Mr. Rogers).

TIPS TO TURN AROUND OVERTHINKING

Because we’re human, we can easily revert to incessant negative thoughts. When this happens, try a few of these tips to get unstuck.

Breathing. Pause, and then slowly breathe in goodness and breathe out the negativity. One easy method involves counting to five as you inhale, pausing, and then slowly breathing out to the count of five. For maximum benefit, repeat this cycle ten times.

Sharing. Talk with a healthy, supportive friend who has a positive attitude toward the world.

Writing. Write down your thoughts and feelings and ask yourself which ones are really true. Ask yourself, “Is this permanent? Is there another way to look at this?” Circle the ones you know are untrue and then “turn them around” as instructed in “The Work” by Byron Katie www.thework.com.

Choice. Remember that you have a choice about what fills your mind. Therefore, you’re not a victim of your thoughts. Overthinking and worry can always be replaced with positive, calming images and ideas.

Affirmations. Whenever you notice a thought that is scaring you, substitute a positive, loving thought. Importantly, keep doing that each time the worrying reappears. For instance, “I’ll never get this right” becomes “I am capable of succeeding and will do so.”

Self Compassion. Talk sweetly to yourself. For example, say to yourself exactly what you would say to comfort or encourage a loved one. For more helpful ideas, See Kristin Neff www.SelfCompassion.org.

Therapy. Therapy is extremely helpful, especially EMDR and Energy Tapping.

Sobriety. If you must have more than two regular-sized drinks a day, consider joining a program to quit. Don’t forget that marijuana also adds to negativity!

IN SUMMARY

Turning around overthinking takes constant awareness and practice, but you’ll soon reap the benefits: a clearer mind, greater peace, happier relationships, and a general feeling of good will.

I did it, and so can you. Good luck!

Worry Less Now; Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer has been sober 35 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Florida with her husband, Peter and her cat Murphy.

Worry Less Now Cover

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now which describes how to reject the faulty thinking leading to addiction, dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, and worry about loved ones. Check out the practical directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (Buy Discounted Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS!

DO YOU HAVE FEELINGS THAT JUST CARRY YOU AWAY AND COLOR YOUR WHOLE WORLD GRAY? Don’t worry! Such feelings are often created by fearful thoughts that aren’t even true.

SO, HERE’S THE TRUTH: We don’t have the means to make people and things exactly as we want them. We just aren’t that powerful.

For example, we live in the wreckage of our future (“Its going to be awful!”) or we create “unenforceable rules” (“This should (or should not happen”). Often, we try to change the past by thinking how it “could have” been better.

Such thoughts are driven by the fear-driven belief that, if we just think long and hard enough, we can protect ourselves (and our loved ones) from pain and harm.

HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: We can find peace of mind and contentment in the midst of our fearful feelings and thoughts. Why? BECAUSE WE CAN CHOOSE WHAT FILLS OUR MIND.

HOW? Meditation, walks outside, stretching, yoga, prayer, reading or watching inspiring books/movies, 12-step work, spiritual practices, energy work, and thought-correction can all soothe our most difficult feelings. Good healthy friends or counselors really help too.

When we get still and listen to our inner wisdom (or that of another), we receive the comfort of ACCEPTANCE (non-attachment to specific outcomes). Further, we find ways to address those problems that still bother us—IF they are still bothering us (quite often, they’ve shrunken down to nothing!).

NEXT TIME YOUR FEELINGS are having a hissy fit, stand apart from them for a moment to recognize they’re mostly a result of inaccurate and disturbing thoughts. Then, ask yourself, “What healthy actions can I take to soothe my mind and body?” And then, do that!

PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WAYS OF SOOTHING UPSET FEELINGS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. THANKS!!

Worry Less Now; Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer has been sober 35 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Florida with her husband, Peter and her cat Murphy.

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now describes how to reject the faulty thinking leading to addiction, dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, and worry about loved ones. Check out the practical directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (Buy Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

REVIEW by Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden) “Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.”

THE DREADED “SHOULDS”

How often do the words should, must, or ought go through your mind?”

For example:

  • My daughter should stop using drugs.
  • This person, (fill in the blank), must be nicer to me.
  • The mayor (or president, legislator, etc.) is wrong and ought to (fill in the blank).
  • I should be healthy and happy and never experience troubling situations.

Unenforceable Rules

According to Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, these “shoulds” are examples of unenforceable rules: They demand an outcome you believe must come true, but over which you have no control. Such inflexible beliefs make us helpless, angry, hurt, hopeless or bitter.

Although holding an unenforceable rule may feel good–even noble–it doesn’t mean you can make it happen. In the first example, the daughter should stop using drugs, but no matter how persuasive the mother’s arguments, she doesn’t have the power to make her daughter stop.

The mother does, however, have control over her own choices and behavior. She can seek help from a therapist or Al-Anon, and claim a positive power to work in the situation. Then she might choose a goal for how she wants to act and feel, detach from the result, and use growth tools for her own peace of mind, regardless of her daughter’s choices.

Overcoming My Own “Shoulds”

One of my own unenforceable rules became clear as I was writing this book. When my mother passed away, I found it difficult to write and became discouraged by my lack of progress.

When I honestly faced the belief that I must complete the book by a certain date, I became willing to see it differently. After using Tool 6, Is It True? I turned my whispered lie around to “I will finish writing the book at the perfect time.” In turn, I became more flexible and kinder with myself.

The essence of happiness is peacefully allowing life to unfold. Nothing becomes a live-or-die situation because you know your loving power is working things out, with results that may far surpass your greatest hopes.

(Excerpt taken from page 56-57 of Gigi Langer’s award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now)

Worry Less Now; Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is a seasoned author and popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. Gigi hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, although she does occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels.

Worry Less Now by Gigi Langer

Her book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now (available HERE in paperback, e-book, & audiobook) has gained rave reviews (4.8 on Amazon) and a publishing award.

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE FROM NEGATIVITY!

worry less now

My friends say our worries & fears come from the not-so-helpful “committee in my head.” I call those negative voices “whispered lies.”

For instance, for too many years I believed “If I want to be liked, I must look good.” This whispered lie made me constantly worried about my appearance and behavior.

A few more examples include:

  • “I’ll never have enough money.”
  • “I always sabotage my success.”
  • “Relationships just don’t work for me.”
  • “We could all be happy if only Dad would stop drinking.”

Although many of our whispered lies concern ourselves, they often focus on our children, spouses, friends, or relatives—for instance, the last example about the father’s drinking.

Other distressing beliefs involve institutions, as in “If the government would just change this policy, we’d all be better off.”

Even though it might be true that Dad ought to stop drinking or the government should make changes, these events have no control over your own happiness.

You can find peace of mind under any circumstance because you’re in charge of what you think about.

Most of our worries are fueled by false stories installed into our minds long ago, just waiting for opportunities to be confirmed.

Wayne Dyer wrote that everything our brain “knows” is based on past experiences. Therefore, when an event resembles—even in a small way—an old painful one, our mind interprets the new event according to the long-standing negative belief.

Since most whispered lies live largely in our subconscious, we’re often unaware of them.

To illustrate the power of my own “negative committee’s” lies, consider why I failed at romantic love so many times during my twenties and thirties. I wanted to believe that love was possible for me, but my past had taught me the lie “I’m not worthy of love.”

This belief lived so strongly in my mind that, even when a man loved me deeply, I couldn’t believe it was true. After several months, I would become convinced that he wasn’t fulfilling my needs. These worries made me so demanding that I soon snuffed out all the happiness and joy of new love. When it ended, I’d tell myself, “I just don’t deserve love!”

Until I got honest and started healing my faulty thinking, I had no hope of enjoying a happy relationship. I’m so grateful for the therapy, recovery, psychological strategies, and spiritual tools that gave me freedom from my false beliefs.

As a result I’m a pretty happy camper most days — AND I’ve been happily married for 31 years. So what if it’s my 4th husband??? He’s fabulous!

To learn how to win independence from your own committee’s whispered lies, check out my award-winning book 50 Ways to Worry Less Now (Amazon 5 stars), Audiobook, and Ebook HERE https://GigiLanger.com/buy/