How to stop overthinking.

By David Joel Miller.

Overthinking is harmful to your mental health.

Overthinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who do a lot of overthinking, sometimes called rumination, increase their anxiety and their sadness. Unchecked overthinking, far from being helpful, can result in worry and leads to mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression. In overthinking your mind becomes your adversary, not your ally. If your mind is constantly turning things over and over and is wearing you out or if you find your overthinking has begun to interfere with your sleep and your relationships, it’s time to do something to put a stop to that over thinking.

If you suffer from overthinking here are some ways to get off that destructive path.

Notice when you overthink.

Overthinking can become an insidious habit. Become aware of when you are feeling distressed or anxious. The first step in getting overthinking out of your life is to become aware of how frequently you are overthinking. Avoid the trap of overthinking your overthinking.

Practice thought stopping.

When a child is doing something, they shouldn’t, we tell them to “knock that off.” When your mind starts taking you into bad neighborhoods, tell that mind to “stop that.” Another technique for stopping negative thoughts is to shift your focus to something positive. Search your memory for the happiest event in your life or imagine a happy event. When your brain begins to overthink possible negative occurrences, tell it to move to the positive.

Focus on the things that are likely to happen.

Most worry and overthinking is the result of an excessive focus on things that might or could happen but are very unlikely. Don’t spend large amounts of time thinking about things that are unlikely to happen. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Overthinking low probability events distracts you from dealing with the things that need doing today to prevent problems in the future.

Become a happiness expert.

Overthinking makes you an expert on unhappiness. Having a laser focus on what could go wrong obscures your vision of what could go right. People who are high in anxiety and depression develop a cognitive bias towards the negative. They don’t see the positive in their lives, and when they do they discount it. Notice small positive events in your life. When something good happens, don’t blink right away. Continue to look at and think about those positive, happy occurrences.

Avoid perfection paralysis.

Frequently people who are high in overthinking consider themselves perfectionists. An excessive focus on a perfection can leave you paralyzed. Pursue excellence. Try to become the best person possible, but avoid an emphasis on absolute perfection. Whatever you achieve should be valued.

Accept yourself as you are.

Failure to accept yourself, as you are, leads to a lot of unhappiness. However, you are, is perfectly acceptable. Acceptance values how far you have come. If you spend all your time looking for flaws you will miss your unique, individual qualities. Acceptance of yourself, others as they are, and the world the way it is rather than insisting that people places and things must be the way you want them to be will increase your happiness and reduce your anxiety provoking overthinking.

Inventory what you have not what’s missing.

Our society today, with its emphasis on the lifestyles of the rich and famous, has resulted in a lot of people believing their life is missing something. Constantly thinking about what’s missing from your life robs you of the enjoyment of the things you do have. When your focus is on keeping up with the Trumps, you will never have enough. When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, you can enjoy the people and the things you do have rather than grieve over your lack of those things that others have.

Take the long view.

Overthinking takes the short view. The focus is on what’s lacking now, the problems of today. Ask yourself what difference today’s problem will make 20 years from now? How about 50 years from now? When you start focusing on where you want to be in the future the problems of today shrink and become insignificant.

Reframe the scary as exciting.

Before an athletic contest, teams try to psych themselves up. If you expect to be beaten badly, it will take all the energy out of your performance. Worry about failing a test is likely to result in lower scores. Go into life’s adventures expecting them to be exciting and regardless of what you do you can have fun. Focusing on the scary parts of life prevents you from ever-living.

Get into action.

A great way to overcome overthinking is to get into action. Stop ruminating about what could go wrong and start doing. Some of what you do today will be the great memories you will be storing up for the future.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Do you overthink things?

By David Joel Miller.

The more you think about things, the worse you feel.

Overthinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Overthinking, sometimes described as rumination, is a common feature of several emotional problems, especially anxiety disorders. These constant thoughts can leave you both physically and emotionally exhausted. At times, you may feel as though your thoughts are racing away without you. Because you think these thoughts so often and they are so upsetting, you may begin to believe that the things you think about are very real possibilities.

Overthinking what might happen in the future increases your anxiety. Overthinking your past, beyond the point of learning from your mistakes, can result in depression. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that going over and over the same issue in your mind, in the same way, will result in additional insight. Overthinking increases self-doubt. The over-anxious brain is constantly on the lookout for threats and magnifies the smallest risk to terrifying proportions. Here are some of the common causes of overthinking.

Overthinking is about judging yourself too much.

Overthinkers judge themselves more harshly than they judge others. Self-evaluation, looking at both the things you do well and the things that you could improve on can be helpful. If your self-evaluation does not move beyond repeatedly reviewing less-than-perfect behaviors, you are judging yourself too harshly. Using the same scale to judge yourself that you use to judge others can reduce excessive self-criticism and prevent overthinking.

Comparing up causes overthinking.

Overthinkers always compare themselves to others who are better looking, more successful or seem more important. Constantly comparing yourself to others who have more or accomplish more, results in discounting everything you have accomplished. Rather than comparing yourself to someone you admire and feeling you are inferior, look for ways to learn from what they do and improve your performance.

Focusing on the negative increases your anxiety.

When you constantly look for the negative, that’s what you will find. Avoid focusing on what’s wrong in your life. Look for opportunities to improve yourself and the life you’re living. Spend less time thinking about what’s wrong and more time focused on the actions you need to take to reach your goals. Overthinkers look for the negative and disregard the positive.

Too much attention to other people’s opinion is harmful.

If you constantly are focused on other people’s opinions of you, your self-doubt increases. Everyone will have an opinion about your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out advice and information from teachers or mentors. Too much attention to other people’s opinions results in you not having an opinion of your own. Be very careful whose opinion of you receives your attention. You are living a real life, and the person whose opinion matters most is yours.

Not knowing who you are creates confusion.

Not having a clear picture of who you are, results in a great deal of confusion and uncertain. Be careful not to be simply a reflection of other people’s opinions. Get clear on your values, your goals, and the person you want to become. Learning about yourself is one of the most important tasks you will undertake in your life.

Believing mistakes mean you are flawed undermines your self-confidence.

Focusing only on your mistakes put you on the path to overthinking, self-doubt and anxiety. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you must be perfect to have value. All humans make mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. Accept that making mistakes is a necessary part of learning, growing and becoming who you can be. Learn from life experiences but don’t judge yourself harshly. Looking only at your mistakes leads to a very negative, biased, opinion about your self-worth.

Being overly judgmental of others creates uncertainty.

Avoid judging others using a stretched yardstick. If you expect an unreasonably high standard from others, you will find that you are unable to measure up to the standard you have set. The more judgmental you are of the people you meet, the more difficult it will become for you to feel good about yourself. Humans are not infallible computers, but then computers frequently make mistakes also. Avoid expecting impossibly high standards from yourself or others. Accept that you like all other humans are a work in progress.

Work on making overthinking a thing of the past. If you’re overthinking has gotten out of control, consider working with a counselor or therapist to get your thoughts back on a helpful path.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

17 Ways to Boost Your Self-esteem.

By David Joel Miller.

Common sense ways to increase your self-esteem.

High self-essteem

Boost your self-confidence.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Feeling badly about yourself? If you have low self-esteem this does not need to hold you back. There are many things you can do to crank up your belief that no matter where you have been or what your life has been like you can move forward and accomplish good things. If “low self-esteem” has been getting in the way of having the life you want, here are seventeen ways to change your thinking and behavior and start creating a life you can be proud of.

1. Stop comparing.

Who you are is not some sort of contest. You do not need to be better than others to feel OK about yourself. One of the fastest routes to improved self-confidence is to accept yourself as you are and stop comparing yourself to others.

Most people have the bad habit of comparing up. You know that you do not look as good as someone on the red carpet. People with only a thousand connections on social media compare themselves to someone with 15,000 connections. More connections do not make you a better person. Life is not a popularity contest.

2. Hang out with confident people.

Hang out with insecure and non-affirming people and you become insecure. Want to be a winner? Hang with the winners. (No comparing now.) Associating with happy people and their happiness will rub off. You become, over time, like the people you hang with.

3. Build on your strengths.

Everyone has strengths. Find the things you are good at. Identify and name those strengths and then emphasizes those things that allow you to make use of your best qualities.

4. Develop your undeveloped strengths.

Some strengths are developed, more or less, and others you still need to discover. Look for strengths and then practice them. Try out new things. You do not need to be great at every new thing you try. Some will not be your cup of coffee. But among those things you try, you may discover the strength that can build you a better life.

5. Study successful people.

Study those people who have overcome adversity and achieved noteworthy things. Read books about those who had great accomplishments. Those people’s journey can inspire you to be the best you can be.

6. Look for “improvement opportunities.”

Reframe every undesired outcome. When you try and do not reach your goal this is a chance to learn more and practice some new skills. No matter where you start out life requires all of us to keep working on our skills and on ourselves.

7. Work with a coach, counselor or mentor.

No one is instinctively perfect. Most “naturals” got to be good by years of practice. Practice alone will not get you there. Not if you keep making the same mistakes over and over until they become automatic. You can’t see your own swing, but a coach can. An outside opinion, counselor or peer can help you find more “improvement opportunities.”

8. Do good stuff.

The more positive things you do the better a person you become. Think of this as moral or karmic exercises. Good people do not become good by doing one great perfect task after a life of awful actions. Little random acts of kindness and positivity nurture a positive person.

9. Make positive self-talk the rule.

Calling yourself names will not make you work harder or build self-esteem. What you tell yourself your mind will try to make come true. Use positive affirmations, what you tell yourself becomes who you are. Remember to tell yourself you can and then go out and see how much you can do today.

10. Get acquainted with your feelings. Call them by their real names.

Feelings are not evil creatures to be banished. You fear is telling your something, so is your irritation. Learn to recognize and listen to what information those feelings are giving you, but do not let their voices drown out your thinking. If you are afraid examine this carefully. Is this really a dangerous situation or are your childlike feelings just needing reassurance that you are in control?

11. Life is about the journey, not the contests you win.

No one wins everything every time.  In life, there will be some second and third places and sometimes you may finish last. Those are not failures. Not being the best at something this time does not mean that you are flawed. Accept that life is about trying on new activities to see which fit you. You do not need to win every game to enjoy playing.

12. Enjoy being a beginner.

One way to cripple yourself self-esteem is to expect to be great at everything the first time. You learn a lot more by being the beginner and mentally observing yourself developing skills.

13. Be proud of your scars.

Victories come with a price. Sometimes that is pain, sometimes you have to fall down and get back up. Love yourself scars and all. You will have life experiences that are painful. You may not want to repeat some experiences but accept that they made you who you are.

14. Work hard at being you. Do not live to fulfill someone else’s dream.

Be sure that the yardstick you use to measure yourself is yours and not someone else’s. Better still toss those yardsticks and stop the measuring. Explore life and get acquainted with you. Live to be you not to fulfill someone else’s ambitions.

15. Stop hiding your mistakes.

Mistakes and imperfections do not diminish your value as a person. Don’t be afraid to look at your shortcomings and to admit them. Especially admit them to yourself. Looking at these less than perfect outcomes can help turn them into improvement opportunities.

16. Remember to love yourself.

You don’t take good care of things you don’t like and you shouldn’t be spending a lot of time with people who dislike you. You will spend the maximum part of your life with you. Make sure you grow to enjoy your company. Mostly that will happen when you stop criticizing you and begin to accept that however you are is perfectly fine.

17. Take good care of yourself, you deserve it.

This one got left for last. It could easily have been first on the list. Others will not treat you any better than you treat yourself. If you want to feel better about yourself start treating yourself better. You deserve to be treated well.

Self-worth is something you should have regardless of what you do. Remember you are a human being, not a human doing. You are more than the list of things you do.

There you have it, some of my suggestions for giving up self-judging and looking at yourself in a more positive way. Try these on and see if you don’t begin to feel just fine about yourself.

Check out the other counselorssoapbox.com posts on Self-esteem.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Unpleasant truths you need to face.

By David Joel Miller

Life principles you need to accept.

Truths you need to face

Truths you need to face
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you spend a lot of your time and energy worrying about what others will think of you?

Low self-esteem? Do you beat yourself up because you made mistakes and think everyone knows about it?

Here are some huge life principles you may need to consider when evaluating your life.

A Hundred years from now no one will remember this.

It is easy to think that “Everyone” knows what you have done and not done. Find yourself thinking badly about yourself? Consider that in a hundred years from now no one will know about your mistakes. There is, in fact, a low probability that anyone will know you ever lived.

Truth is that people two blocks from your house right now may not know anything about you. Very few of us are just that important. Stop worrying about what others think about you and focus on doing the things you think you should be doing.

None of this really matters.

Most of what we do is forgotten by the end of the day. Look in your history books. Those wars and conflicts – the people who fought in these wars are mostly forgotten. People died in labor strikes. A few of us remember, but once you are gone can you really convince yourself that what you bought and what you own will make any difference.

Enjoy it while you can, but as far as I can tell, you can’t take it with you and even the presidents get forgotten.  Be the kind of person you would like to be eventually. Quick can you tell me what President Tyler stood for?

No one gets out of here alive.

Eventually, we all die. The most you get is a line on the tombstone and maybe an obituary in a paper. A hundred years later even your descendants won’t know all that much about you. Live the best you can and let it go.

Things look different depending on where you are standing.

Most of what we know or think we know are the result of where we were born and grew up. If you had lived somewhere else your life would have been different. Stop being so sure that things are the way you see them and accept that others are standing in another spot.

What if there was something going on behind that tree that you can’t see?

Most of what we take for truth and surety is only our point of view.

It is always today.

You can’t change what you did yesterday and you can’t do anything tomorrow. It is always the same day – today. Live in today and stop looking over your shoulder. Do not leave things you should do for tomorrow. Do these things today.

Average gets lost in the crowd.

What to stand out? Want people to think highly of you? Want more self-esteem? Do more stuff. Take chances. Those who are afraid to be noticed do not get noticed.

Want to be exceptional? Do something others do not do every day.

You can’t please everyone.

No one can please everyone. Please one group or faction and you anger the others. Do what you feel you should be doing. Please yourself and stop being concerned about what others are thinking about you.

The higher you are the more people throw things at you.

Know who the president is? Do they say bad things about him? Did they do that to the president before him and the one before that? If you do something you will get criticized. The more you do the more you get criticized. Are you trying to tell me that people should not criticize you? What – you think you are more important than the president?

If it isn’t scary it isn’t special.

New things, especially the creative inventive things, always come with a large dose of risk. Want to be special, do special things.

You can’t win if you don’t play.

Sitting out the game does not make you a winner. You have to get in there run, pass, catch, and then you have a shot at it. Playing it safe is another name for planning to lose. Life has no safe spots. Stop telling yourself to be careful and start telling yourself that you need to take more risks. Intelligent, thoughtful risks are fine, but everything, even the expected things, has risks.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

How many of these unpleasant life truths have you faced?