How to Be Present And Stop Overthinking
Do you often catch yourself thinking about the past? We tend to obsess over past events and future scenarios – heartbreak, loss of confidence, professional failures. Overthinking sucks our energy and makes us miserable.
So the question remains – how to be present in the here and now? How to feel joy and rest comfortably knowing that everything will turn out well?
There’s good news. If you think too much, you can change this behavior and make the change you want to see in your life.
Here are the things you need to learn how to be present and stop overthinking:
1. Don’t Identify With Negative Thoughts
The first step in learning how to be present is to stop identifying with your thoughts. Your thoughts are the result of social conditioning – what your friends tell you, what you watch on TV, and what you absorb from external situations.
So if your mind tells you:
“You’re not worth anything”
“You don’t fit in”
“You will never do anything good in life”
Know that these are just thoughts that have no credibility, let them pass. When such thoughts come, say to yourself, “you’re just a thought, off you go.”
2. Change Your Emotional State
Tony Robbins says that the story your mind tells you depends on your physiological state. For example, when you are sad, you slouch, look down, your facial expressions are tensed, and your mind is telling you that you have a sad life.
But if you do a 10-minute workout, your mind tells you an entirely different story, and your body language, your physiology changes as well.
State -> Story -> Strategy
Tony Robbins says that in a weak emotional state, your mind creates a weak story and as a result, the actions you take, i.e. your strategy, is weak as well. If you deliberately get into a peak state, you hear an empowering story and as a result, your strategy is strong because you take positive action.
To get into a peak emotional state, you need to change your physiology – work out, take a cold shower.
3. Become Active
A major cause people overthink is that they make time for it. To learn how to be present, be active throughout the day. Get out of your house, exercise, meet your friends, go shopping. Engage in a hobby, do something creative. If you don’t get busy, your mind will be pulled towards negativity.
As the saying from Shawshank Redemption goes,
“Get busy living or get busy dying”.
4. Make A Choice
Quite often when we are overthinking, we are troubled by external circumstances. But what we don’t realize is that we create our circumstances and we can change them anytime we want. So to end overthinking and learn how to be present, we just need to make a choice!
As Will Smith said,
“There’s a redemptive power that making a choice has rather than feeling like you’re an effect to all the things that are happening. Make a choice. Just decide what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you are going to do it. Just decide. And from that point, the universe will get out of your way.”
So if you’re worried about a lack of progress in your career, decide to improve your skills and get a better job. If you worry about not having any friends, join some classes, or volunteer for an NGO, so that you can meet like-minded people.
5. Try Deep Breathing
Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL commander, believes that breath control is the most powerful tool to build mental toughness. When you are overthinking, your brain is conjuring up fearful scenarios of the future or remembering regrets of the past. The way out is to connect to your breath, breathe deeply: inhale till your diaphragm and exhale slowly.
By breathing deeply for a few minutes, you will be centered, stable, and balanced. And as a result, you’ll get rid of the mental storms trying to suck your energy.
You can be in the present by focusing on your breath or deciding to change whatever is troubling your mind. A great way to end overthinking is to be active. There are some other ways too – write everything down in a diary, or talk to yourself as your best friend.
Thinking about the past or future drains our energy. But the good thing is that we control our mind and not the other way around.