There is a parasite inside your head, it sits there, peacefully, not running around. Not yelling at you, not destroying your brain into a hundred pieces. Then where is the problem? The problem is it’s the parasite of your past. It’s the parasite that formed because you couldn’t stop thinking about that one event, incident, person or even a place that haunts you.
You let the parasite be there, thinking it’s going to last there forever and there is nothing you can do about it. But what it does to you is, it starts to eat you, slowly and steadily, without you knowing. And before you know it, it’s too late. It has already sucked the soul out of you. And baam! You can’t breathe anymore, you’re surviving your life not living it, as a vegetative existence.
Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the chair of the department of psychology at Yale University writes in Kaizen Habits, overthinking is when “They don’t sleep well because ruminating and worrying keep them awake at night. Ruminators repetitively go over events, asking big questions: Why did that happen? What does it mean? But they will never find any answers”
What she has quoted seems like she had interviewed me! Many could relate to this worst phase of your life, not just me. So what exactly is overthinking and what could it do to you?
According to Success Consciousness, when you analyze, comment and repeat the same thoughts over and again, instead of acting, you are overthinking. This habit prevents you from taking action. It consumes your energy, disables your ability to make decisions, and puts you on a loop of thinking and thinking over and again.
The fact that you aren’t able to cross the dark phase you had in your life, is less terrifying than thinking how long would it take for you to lead a normal life like the one you see everyone having around you.
You tend to wake up with the same thought, go to sleep with the same thought and many times even dream about the same! Dreams in fact are a very powerful source of medium in which your subconsciousness tries to convey important behavioural changes you go through.
What can you do about it?
There are hundreds of thousands of solutions to find online, while many ways work and many would not, these solutions are very subjective and would change from person to person. You need to figure out your own way of coping with the trouble. That will happen, gradually. Give it time, you do not need to rush. Go on a trial and error spree. Here’s what works for me,
‘Notice’ when you’re thinking too much
This has been hands down the most effective for me, which I discovered from a piece on Forbes. It’s easy to dwell into your past very often and fall into that dark hole, and once you do you are unable to pull yourself back out of it. As soon as you realize you are thinking overboard, snap yourself. Cut your thought abruptly, and quickly try to sense three things around you. Anything as simple as the smell from a scented candle or biting into something with a strong taste, like a hot pepper. This helps you revive your senses.
Do not pop any pills
When your brain cannot handle too much pressure, it releases itself in the form of physical uneasiness. I know a lot of people personally who lose weight, who gain weight, lose appetite or turn into insomniacs. That forces your body clock to go for a toss. In my case, it drained me in the form of headaches. I visited eye doctors, clinics, drank water and blamed it on my work culture too. But it took me really long to figure out that I should stop carrying Propynenazone Caffeine tablets with me everyday to work. It helped me in instant relief for a few hours and gave me 8 good hours of sleep only to wake up everyday to a pounding headache. There was a man inside my head who used a large wooden axe to be hammered into my brains.
The only way you could tackle this is to focus on one thing. If you are working at the moment, give extra focus to it. If you are cooking, concentrate on cutting your vegetables. If you’re showering give your head a good massage in a hot shower.
Stay occupied when the sun sets
Brain Wellness Spa says that evenings have the most dawning effect on people undergoing depression. This easily leads to exhaustion, loneliness and dissatisfaction with our life, thinking it isn’t going anywhere. The reason that the study shows so, is largely because of lack of distractions in evenings. I realized this extremely late and was struggling without understanding why this pattern followed.
One of the effective ways I stick to, is to stay occupied. Needn’t always be going out for a walk or hanging out with your friends and family, nevertheless that would work wonders. It could also be doing something you really love, cooking, gym classes or something as simple as talking to someone you adore over the phone. One of my ways would be playing loud music. I love music when it’s always around me, hence keeping it closer in times of distress.
Count your blessings, literally!
I used to read these lines and think how annoyingly cliché they are! What do you mean by counting your blessings, that does not even make sense! Yet what I realized much later, at least how I used to take these lines seriously were, to count three things everyday that you are extremely grateful for. Just three. Not more, not less. At the beginning of this process I noticed that I wasn’t even happy for many of them, because it came to me as and when life happened, without an extra thought of craving for something, which many could not have, even if they yearned to.
Write it down or type to your phone notes, I own a white board, which is now filled and overflowing in a corner bar I made. Whenever you start with your brain sirening “Why did this happen to me” “What should I do now” “No one is there for me”, you open up these sheets and read it, I read it aloud from my white board, it snaps me back out of the overthought misery I’m drowning in.
If these could help even one person, my goal is achieved. Because I know that Parasite of The Past that’s growing inside you, it has been growing inside me and together we can tackle the biggest wars inside us. Only you can save yourself, and I know you can.
You have many people to prove wrong, you have many to prove right. They have been vouching for you. Go through your pain, but get out of it like a phoenix bird, you have no clue what’s waiting for you at the end of this road. You’ll be surprised, you’ll be shocked. You’ll thank your stars.
Let’s put that venomous energy into an infectious one of productivity, growth and self love.