If you are stuck in analysis paralysis, it might be because you are engaged in overthinking. Sarah is a good example. When a new job presented, she weighed the pros and cons of leaving her current job and took the promotion. After she made the decision, she continued to ruminate on the decision, “Did I make the right decision? What if I had stayed? Was this really a good idea? What if I don’t like the new company?” Those type of thoughts were constantly on her mind as she was second guessing her decisions. Overthinking happens to the best of us, but if we don’t get a hold of it, on-going anxiety results.

Overthinking is exhausting and emotionally distressing. It feels a little like being in an endless circle, or like reliving the movie, Ground Hog Day. So how do we stop it? Should we simply tell ourselves to stop overthinking? This usually doesn’t work because it gives attention to the negative behavior of overthinking and tells your brain to focus on it. You will actually end up doing it more!

Instead of telling ourselves to stop overthinking , think about what could go right versus what could go wrong. This redirection of thought will change your mood and cause you to worry less. We get so focused on preparing ourselves for problems, we don’t visualize success and the steps that lead to it! This is a way to take charge of your mind and the thoughts going through it.

Overthinking is typically based on two main things, ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Overthinking can trap your brain into a worry cycle. Spiritually, we are instructed not to worry. This is because worrying means we do not trust God and are fearful about the future. People of faith are not to be motivated by fear. God holds our future and we trust in Him. We used to sing an old hymn that reminds us not to worry—”because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives, all fear is gone, because I know, who holds the future, life is worth living because he lives.” Trust in God is the antidote to worry and overthinking.

Overthinking steals our joy in the present. So, pay attention to your self-talk–the monologue that runs in your head day and night. Replace overthinking with more reasonable thoughts like, “Well I made a mistake and need to let it go.” Or, “Not everyone is going to give me a LIKE online.”  Or “Even if I did make a bad impression, I have opportunities to correct it.”

Again, don’t try to stop the thought, replace it and challenge that negative, “oh no” type of thinking. Truth is, we are going to make some bad decisions and wish we had done things differently from time to time. We also can’t control our future. For those times, there is grace. And when you are unsure of a decision or direction, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Seek godly counsel from others. Our lack of confidence in ourselves can be replaced by confidence in God and His Word. This is what it means to be led by the Spirit.

To stop overthinking, learn to trust God for your present and future. Your past does not dictate your future in God’s kingdom. Accept his grace and live worry free. An overactive mind can make life miserable. Learning how to stop spending time in your head and trusting God in all things will keep you worry free.

Stop overthinking and second guessing

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