Can you turn off your overthinking mind? Don’t you wish there was a switch that be could flip to shut off your mind? You’re not alone, millions of people suffer from an overactive mind. The mind is a great instrument when used properly, but when left alone and unchecked it can cause unwanted stress and anxiety. Let’s look at some techniques to shut off your overthinking mind.
Why Do We Over Think?
I suffer from an overthinking mind. Most of my life I spent over-analyzing and running the “What if” scenarios over and over in my head. Much of my anxiety came from fearful thoughts. It is an exhausting way to live your life. Many people turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their minds, but that is not the answer. It just causes more stress and anxiety down the road. You never really address the root of the problem. The mind has evolved over time to become a great problem solver. It is always looking for its next problem to solve. Most of the thoughts we generate, the mind considers them a problem that must be solved. If you don’t know how to regulate those thoughts they can take over your life. We live in an overstimulated culture. You need to retrain your mind to stop overthinking.
Ways to Shut Off Your Overthinking Mind
The first step is to become aware of your mind patterns. You may notice certain triggers that may cause you to start thinking obsessively. Once you start to become aware of your conditioned behaviors, you can begin to work on reconditioning your mind. A powerful book that changed my life was reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. In this book, he explains how the mind works and techniques to stop the mind from overthinking. Try to remember that your thoughts are not reality, they are just thoughts. It’s your reaction to those thoughts that are causing your unwanted anxiety. Ask yourself this question when your mind has taken over “Do I have any problems at this moment?” Not tomorrow or next week, but right now.
Eckhart Tolle on the mind
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately … you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.”
J.Krishnamurti’s teachings and books have helped me gain greater insight into the workings of the mind, society, and the human condition. J. Krishnamurti is a profound teacher of life, the thinking mind, and the human condition. Many of his teachings are how to free mankind from the thinking mind and its lifetime of conditioning. Through his teachings, he explains how to be totally aware of the mind’s thoughts and its repetitive nature. See our article about J. Krishnamurti.
If there is an awareness of how thought begins then there is no need to control thought. We spend a great deal of time and waste a great deal of energy all through our lives, not only at school, trying to control our thoughts -‘This is good thought, i must think about it a lot. This is an ugly thought, I must suppress it.’ There is a battle going on all the time between one thought an another, one desire and another, one pleasure dominating all other pleasures. But if there is an awareness of the beginning of thought, then there is no contradiction in thought.
Strategies to Calm the Obsessive Mind
- Meditation is a great way to calm the mind. Find a quiet spot to meditate and just focus on your breath. It can cause your mind to stop thinking. Even if there are noise and commotion try and focus on an object and breath.
- Staying present and in the moment. This has helped me a great deal. Try focusing on the present moment in anything you do. If your mind starts to drift into old habits, become aware of this, and refocus on the present moment. For example, stay in the moment by doing a simple task like washing the dishes.
- Exercise is a great way to stay present. Try going for a run, a bike ride or try yoga. Focus on the activity, not your mind.
- Nature has many mind-calming qualities. I find that just going for a walk in the woods and observing what is around me is calming. Try noticing the trees, the air, or flowers. Sit and watch a bird or a squirrel going about their day.
- In life, things come and go. Nothing stays the same forever. I like routines and have learned that sometimes you have to go with the flow. Just like the thoughts in your head they come and go. I try and remind myself I am not my mind. These thoughts will soon pass.
Photo credit/Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Living with an over-thinking mind can be a terrible way to go throughout life. If you can break the cycle, it can become quite liberating. I use some of these strategies to stop overthinking and it changed my life. Stay vigilant because you can fall back into your old patterns in no time. Remember try not to identify with your mind so much and just let the present moment be your guide. The answers will be there in that moment when you need them.