You are not alone, you are not crazy and you can be better. Hi, my name's Alex and I overthink everything. Count on me to turn something as simple as what to eat for breakfast into an ultimatum that, in my mind, will somehow alter whether my kids are musical or not. If you think about it (but not too much), overthinking things makes perfect sense. Most things in life are part of a process of uncertainty reduction; we are frightened most by what we do not know or do not understand. We seek comfort in being able to anticipate what is going to happen and we crave having some kind of control over even the most unpredictable things. This doesn't rationalize overthinking, but it makes sense. In thinking, like everything else, we must remember that the key is doing things in moderation. Also, awareness is the first step to reform, isn't it?
There's a difference between thinking ahead and over-analyzing a situation. It can be advantageous to think ahead and explore different outcomes, especially when making an important decision. Knowing your options and weighing the benefits and repercussions of a situation is essential to making good decisions. However, exploring possible outcomes can easily lead you to think of highly improbable situations that will end up stressing you out. I pride myself in being mentally present and constantly thinking, however, pair this with the overactive imagination that I have and you create a monster. The price you pay for having a mind that's constantly shifting from thought to thought is that the likelihood of mentally stumbling upon unnecessarily stressful scenarios is elevated. You have to learn how to conserve your mental energy and filter out what is and isn't important to think about. It's also a matter of knowing when to cut yourself off, something college kids should also apply to... other aspects of their lives.
I believe that part of the problem lies in the content we consume. Every social media outlet perpetuates this image of living the "perfect life" created by celebrities, bloggers and YouTubers. Even in sharing their more personal, raw moments they are idolized and labeled as "having it together." No one ever has, or ever will truly have it together. Earlier this week, a picture of an egg became the most liked photo on Instagram just for some memes. If this doesn't snap you out of whatever trance social media may have you in, I don't know what will. But this isn't to say you can't live a successful, fulfilling life if you don't have it together. My point is quite the opposite. Part of living a good life is accepting that you can't control everything.
Part of curbing the bad habit is relinquishing your desire to control things that, in reality, you cannot while accepting that it's impossible to have everything together. It's okay not to have all the answers, especially at this age. What you don't want is your own thoughts and assumptions to be a hindrance to the natural course of events where the possibilities are truly endless. I didn't realize how much I overthought things until it became painfully derisive to how I functioned. It's something that I'm working on to this day. I am incredibly blessed to have friends who call me out on it and help me to calm down and recalibrate my mindset.
In life, we walk along a path that is paved by our experiences and the choices we make. By solely looking ahead, we miss the pebbles and cracks in the pavement that will inevitably cause us to stumble and fall into setbacks. Don't focus so much on mere possibilities that you miss out on learning from and enjoying what is already happening.