Overthinking can be used for good or bad. It can be a life saver or it can destroy you. Overthinking to me means giving way too much thought to something, whether it is something trivial or something meaningful which could then lead us to worry about it and therefore get stressed. Back in college in the USA, after my fist week of classes was over I remember thinking to myself, why did I not do more? Why did I not make friends right away? Why did I not take more notes? And so on. I think the social factor was a bigger deal to me. After what I would describe as an average week without much success in meeting people, I would project that failure into the future. I would think to myself that that was going to be the way things act out in the next 2 years.
Another downside of overthinking could be when you miss living the present moment because you are worrying about something coming up. This morning I was getting dressed to go to my tennis class, and almost immediately some thoughts came to mind. I started thinking that I was going to get a good class and workout, but that afterwards I would have to come back home, go upstairs, take a shower, play with my nephew, keep being productive and so on, and this sounded exhausting. Same thing when I go to the kitchen to make my dinner. Whether I am just frying a hamburger, sometimes I think about how long it would take, that I was hungry now and that it would take at least 10 minutes to have it all ready. This sort of projecting into future stressful events can deprive us of enjoying the present moment.
Brief review of the book Dare by Barry McDonagh
Overthinking can cause us to feel anxiety as well. One of the books I have read this far is called Dare, and it talks about a basic technique to overcome anxieties of any type. The book does not tell us how to eliminate anxiety so we never feel anxious any more, it teaches us how to live with it in a way that we do not fear it but use it instead to our advantage.
In fact he encourages us to feel excited about anxious moments, to embrace them. Very briefly, his method for dealing with anxiety (any sort of anxiety, driving, social, public speaking, talking over the phone etc) is D.A.R.E:
Defuse it: The moment we get anxiety about something (i.e social anxiety) we tend to overthink things and project negative visualizations into the future. An example can be, if we are about to go out, and we are socially anxious, we might begin thinking, what if I talk to someone and that someone turns me down? or I look like a fool in front of a group of people?
As soon as this negative thoughts begin to emerge we must ask ourselves, SO WHAT? So what if a person who I am never going to see again rejects me? So what if a group of people who are not meaningful to me have a laugh at me? It only goes about showing how shallow they are, so whats so wrong about that? This SO WHAT approach helps us eliminate or lessen those negative questions we set up for ourselves the moments we begin feeling anxious. Come on, seriously, what is the worst thing that could happen? To paraphrase Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men, when he was giving advise on girls to his nephew Jake, he asked Jake what was the worst thing that could happen if he talked to the girl she liked, Jake responded that she would laugh at him. Charlie told him that his response was cute, and that the worst thing that could happen to him is that he falls in love with her and she corresponds him, they get married and he lives a sexless life forever, or something like that. This principle makes me wonder, is the worse thing that could happen to us so bad? Could it be just me, who is holding back on doing the things I want the most?
Allow it: The second step is to ACCEPT the anxiety. Remember we are not trying to eliminate anxiety oravoid it, it is inevitable, after all it is a natural process. However. we can work on ourselves to eliminate the negative connotation we have about it, we can stop being afraid of it. If we do this correctly the next time a potentially anxious situation appears, we should feel a rush, an adrenaline, but not fear. Once the anxiety comes, we must say I ACCEPT AND ALLOW THIS ANXIOUS FEELING. The anxiety will not escalate if you welcome it. Also the author gives us a little exercise in which we can give a visual representation to anxiety, say a funny cartoon, so the next time we get it, we picture that cartoon instead, therefore making the thought of anxiety more ridiculous and funny, as to stir away from fear.
Run Towards: Actually try to get excited about your anxious feelings. Say that you are excited about that feeling, welcome it as a drill to step out of your comfort zone. The objective is to try to trick your mind so that you can remove the negativity attached to the feeling, remember feeling anxiety is just another feeling. That feeling is not bad on itself, it is our perception about it which makes it bad.
Engage: Once we have cooled down by asking SO WHAT?, and then we voiced how we accept the feeling, and then we got excited about it (I also encourage you purposely try to get anxiety, to help remove the fear we have of it), now we have minimized the fear and realized it was not much big of a deal after all. Now, to finalize this methodology we must ENGAGE in a task which uses our full attention, such as reading a book, watching a movie, writing a post, debate, etc). It is not the same as distracting yourself from anxiety, you have to engage in something that is mentally engaging, keep yourself purposely busy. This will help us move past anxiety and begin working on something important. If you apply these 4 steps, the author promises you should in time see an improvement in your fear towards anxiety.
Remember, do not feel ashamed of your anxiety, it is a normal thing. The more you talk to others about your anxiety, the better it is because you take away the power it has over you.
The author says that we get anxious because we worry about things or people. For example, if I would not worry about how I come across people, I would not have social anxiety and would just talk to people whenever I want. So we need to think what is the source of our worries, and analyze if it is worth it.
VULNERABILITY AND THE BOOK DARING GREATLY BY BRENE BROWN
Speaking of overthinking and anxiety, I read another book called Daring Greatly, written by Brene Brown which talks about how we live in a world that is making people avoid being too vulnerable. With everything that is going in the media, the way peers behave in school and throughout college, maybe the way we were raised by our parents and so on. According to the Brene, being vulnerable means facing uncertainty, exposing ourselves and taking emotional risks. Being vulnerable means presenting yourself to the world in a transparent way accepting your imperfections, setting yourself up for potential failure and wearing your emotions on your sleeves so those who care for you can help you go through the rough moments.
The author talks about how we should be more vulnerable and talk about our problems (in moderation of corse) but only with those who truly deserve it, true friends and family for that matter. She says that if we begin opening up to everyone about our problems then that is just plain attention seeking, that is not vulnerability. In my other post in which I talked about how I would be more serious around people, this does not mean that I will be fearless and to never open up to anybody, it means only opening up to those who you really care about. The author also talks about how being vulnerable might be easier for women than for men, since men tend to hold more of an armor to prevent others from entering their emotional side.
Being vulnerable, like I already said, is about being open about your imperfections and taking emotional risks but with the mentality that we are enough. We live in a culture in which the media and certain people try to convince us that we are not skinny enough, rich enough, smart enough and so on. It is by stepping out of our comfort zone while embracing our imperfections, showing we have emotions to those close to us, and thinking that we are enough because we have lots to offer, that we will be able to be vulnerable. I suggest you practice being more vulnerable with those you trust immediately so you can begin growing this into your community.
I think that combining the methodology mentioned in the book Dare to deal with anxiety, and being more vulnerable (therefore taking away the power of shame in a shame-prime culture) will be a mega combo in helping us deal with fear that comes associated with overthinking and the uncertainty of not knowing if we might get hurt, physically and/or emotionally. We are in an imperfect world which constantly presents us with obstacles that help us grow, but to grow we must accept our setbacks and show we are struggling, because it is a natural thing, the important part is to keep on going despite the struggle, and to not be afraid of showing our faces to the world.
Things to be excited about this year!
Trip to Paris, London, Scotland and Ireland – Late May 2017
Expanding my post-grad education, learning more and making connections!
Getting my 1st car, being more independent.