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How do I avoid overthinking and live in the present

How do I avoid overthinking and live in the present


Overthinking has haunted my life for the past 6 years and it’s finally going away… I think.


I’ve always had a crazy imagination. Like, vivid as shit. As a kid it rocked — it really brought out my creative side and made me an outgoing person. I’d construct cities out of legos, build impenetrable forts in my basement, and draw everything in sight.


Like most kids I possessed an innocence that allowed for a positive, optimistic, care-free outlook on life. Again like most kids I had little-to-no responsibility and what seemed like all the free time in the world. My imagination was given a blank canvas to splatter its vibrant colors whichever way it pleased. My imagination directly reflected the environment around me which was more-often-than-not happy and stress-free.


That environment has changed significantly; and with it, my imagination.


As we get older, responsibility increases and our free time is allotted to finishing obligations for school, work, etc. It becomes filled with petty tasks and constant stress. There is virtually no time for the imagination to run wild. This doesn’t mean your imagination goes away, although this is what it may feel like. So how is imagination affected? Why does this matter to an overthinker?


A cluttered imagination is the source of overthinking.


The abundance of overwhelming responsibility and stress begins to clutter the imagination. Instead of flexing its creative muscles, imagination takes into account all of worries and anxieties that come with responsibility and the overthinking process begins. Imagination acts like a catalyst in the brain and amplifies these stresses.


Here is how overthinking affected my life…


Toward the last two years of high school I began to overthink. The stresses of school, work, sports, extra-curricular activities, friends, all began to consume my mind. My vivid imagination reacted to the environment it was surrounded by and changed drastically. I was no longer splattering vibrant colors on a blank canvas but scrambling to construct the portrait of my future. Any free time my imagination was given was allotted to organization. I constantly thought: How am I going to get my life together?


Anxiety began to make a home for itself in my head.


In college it only worsened. It was impossible for me to live in the moment. Even when I was out with friends I was planning my next day, week, month in my head identifying tasks I needed to complete and responsibilities I needed to take care of. Besides the stresses that come with collegiate student-athlete life, I began dating my girlfriend. What’s so wrong with that? Well, nothing, besides the fact that we live 4,200 miles apart. The stresses of a long-distance relationship contributed to more and more overthinking.


Suddenly my imagination was more active than ever — but for the wrong reasons.


I began to feel stress physically impacting my body. My stomach constantly felt like a it was in knot. My chest hurt. I had countless sleepless nights.


I was constantly worried about failure. School failure, sports failure, relationship failure — I couldn’t get it out of my head. Two of my best friends had just lost an immediate family member unexpectedly which through my entire system out of wack. My thoughts were unstable and allowed paranoia to permeate the skull and quietly creep into my mind.


My mind would constantly race but every single thought that went through it was negative. I would make up impossible scenarios in my head that brought about my doom as if I were trying to prove to myself that all the forces of nature were set against me to ensure misery and failure.


On the one year anniversary of my best friend’s brother’s passing, I broke down. I had gone weeks with sleepless nights and felt constant physical and mental strain caused by imagination-induced stress. I had an uncontrollable crying fit in front of my mom and sister who were, at the time, a little freaked out. After all, I wasn’t being myself. The usual happy-go-lucky guy stared straight-face more often than he smiled. My sister told me she could feel the anxiety I brought into the room.


I can confidently say that God saved the three greatest women on this earth for me. My mom, sister, and girlfriend talked to me a lot — and still do — about three following points that helped me stop overthinking:


Don’t dwell on things you can’t control. Uncertainty is okay, unless you’re afraid of it.

We’re all gonna die. If you spend your whole life overthinking, planning, organizing, assigning, scheduling you’re going to miss it.

Your environment directly reflects the way you think. Surround yourself with positivity and use your imagination for happy, creative, productive thoughts.

Now when I start to overthink I remind myself of these three points. I ask myself, “Is this something I can control?” I’ve adopted more an ‘whatever happens, happens’ attitude and it’s paid off greatly. Sure, it’s still good to set daily goals and organize your schedule but don’t obsess over it. Realize something: if you spend more of your time planning to do something instead of actually doing it, it’ll never get done.


Control what you can control. Declutter your imagination and surround yourself with a positive environment. The future is always uncertain — whatever happens, happens. Don’t let this scare you, rather, use it as an excuse to enjoy the present!





How do I avoid overthinking and live in the present?


Always make peace with yourself.


That is the first and foremost way to avoid overthinking. We all are driven by thoughts. Life is full of dreams, fulfilled and unfulfilled. Thoughts are what makes our lives. Good thoughts make it vibrant and bad ones make it harder. So making peace with ourselves and our thoughts is the way to go about.


Here are a few things we can do:


Not ruminating over the things that are not in your control.

Letting go of the situations that you cannot alter. EXTREMELY TOUGH but needs to be done.

Letting go of people, attachments and expectations.

Accepting that people change and their proirities do change as well. We may be important to people but not all the time. The biggest challenge is to accept this.

Life is what we make it. Heart knows what it wants and it knows how to heal and make things simple. The problem is just to silence the mind.


Also we need to understand the following things in life.


About People:

People change. Their priorities change. There will be times in which even when you are present, your presence will not be acknowledged and in your absence, your absence will not be felt. Learn to live with it.

People will always be their original self when you are of no value to them and their lives. It is impossible to change the character of people how much ever you try. Even though you can heat water, it has the property to return to the liquid form again in sometime when allowed to be itself with no external stimuli. Similar is the character of the people.

People judge. People hurt. People leave. You need to be stronger and sometimes you need to get hurt real bad to understand life and you will mature. To live is to experience all the emotions. Pinnacle of happiness and the nadir of sadness. Sometimes people just are eager what happens in your life, they DON'T CARE. Not everyone has the same mentality as you and not everyone you truly care about, cares about you. You know who really cares at your worst times.

Never get offended by how others judge you

Judging and getting judged hold no value. One of the hardest things in life is ruminating and getting hurt about what other people think about you and your life.

Know and reiterate the following things to yourself

That those people know your name, but not your story

That they have heard what you have done, but don't know what you have been through.

That it is merely their perception about you and they haven't lived your life for you.

That it is unfair for them to read page 754 of your book called life and thinking that they know you completely. So don't give much attention to their misconceptions.

By believing, "If they were in your shoes living your life, they would fall in their first step" and staying strong.

About Love

Sometimes true love alone is never enough. There are so many things that will be important for a friendship/relationship to work.

Sometimes you love someone so deep no matter what they do to you and they might never love you back no matter what you do. Love doesn’t hurt. The emotions and attachment do.

About Life overall.

Life is not fair. It never was and will never be. We just have to live it anyway making the best of ourselves and giving our best to others and being good and truthful. Life moves on. Time never waits.




In software engineering, we have this process that we like to follow called Agile Software Development.



I’ve come to realize that this process works not because it’s focused on optimizing the actual development of software, but rather because it’s focused on optimizing the nature of human beings.


Let’s face it. We as human beings tend to think divergently.


Human cognitive ability is both a strength, because it fosters creativity and faculty of reasoning, and a weakness because it leads to overthinking and misguided planning.


So the key to not overthinking is to structure our work into short sprints of requirements analysis, planning, the sprint, and finally a retrospective.


Requirements - during the requirements phase we think about what we want in life and how to achieve it. We set goals and define our purpose in life.


Planning - during the planning phase we think about how to achieve what we defined in the requirements phase. What tasks and sub-tasks do we need to do to eventually achieve our goals?


Sprint - this is when we execute our plan for a short period (usually 1–2 weeks). During this time we don’t overthink our plan or revise it too much, we just have faith in the plan and execute it.


Retrospection - If the plan doesn’t seem to be working out or we need to make adjustments after the 1–2 week sprint period, this is the time to rethink and reanalyze.


This process works well because of the short nature of the cycles. Since the cycles are short there is room for flexibility and readjustment every 1–2 weeks.


However, to prevent overthinking and disorganization, the cycle is broken up into specific phases.


For example, planning is never done during the sprint phase.


The sprint phase is specifically for doing the work, and while some flexibility is good, we should discipline ourselves to mostly stick to the plan.


See if you can apply the engineering mindset to your life and your work, even if you’re not an engineer.


You may be surprised at how much more productive you become.


Remember, the more productive you become, the more of your life you can claim back for free time so that you can stop thinking and start living!


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Categories : Life purpose    Themes : Wisdom
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