“I know I do a lot of thinking. Can you tell me what I can do to think less?”

That is such a common question I am asked during Coaching and Innate Resilience training sessions.

That tells me two things –

  • When we identify a problem, we start looking for solutions. We get in the fix-it mode and that involves doing something.
  • We want to feel good. Overthinking can be anxiety provoking and overwhelming. These are not comfortable feelings. We want to do something to stop overthinking so that we can start feeling better.

Most people seem to understand that the more they think, the more cluttered the mind gets. Doing something does seem to help.

Activities such as cycling back from work seem to declutter the mind as does going for a walk or having a swim. Exercise does help release endogenous endorphins, the happy hormones and we do end up feeling better.

However, there are days when we may have engaged in these activities and still not felt any better. We may have taken the same scenic route back from work, the sun may be shining, we may have done an intensive workout. And yet, we haven’t been able to shift our thinking.

So what can we do? Here’s my answer –

There is nothing better we can do to stop overthinking than doing nothing to stop overthinking.

People struggle with this. Surely we need to be pro-active, right?

Yes, and No…

We can’t get rid of overthinking by adding more layers of thinking, even if they are positive thoughts. When we give up trying to fix our thinking, the thinking quietens down by itself. That’s the nature of thought.

Thoughts come and go. The more attention we give them, the more they seem to grow. The more we think our thoughts are true, the more they appear true. The more we try to get rid of thoughts, resist them, the more they stick around…

…until we stop trying!

Then almost magically, thinking shifts…as if the system self-corrects when left to its own devices. When it comes to fixing overthinking, the less you consciously get involved, the better.