There are few who have not gone through the aggravating process of overanalyzing an event, issue or concern. for lots of individuals, overanalyzing is a way of life. These people spend an inordinate amount of mental energy on the same topic until they are exhausted, only to return again and again to it. This type of thinking is far from healthy and can disrupt your life. Learning to cease overanalyzing can bring back essential peace of mind.
Write down your process for analyzing. Think about how you approach an issue mentally. Notice patterns in your process. Figure out if there's a point in your analysis where you commonly become “stuck.” Look for a patterns where you keep trying to think of additional possibilities, or rerun events in your head or struggle to make a final decision between two options. Learning how you analyze a topic will help you in breaking the habit of overanalyzing, as you will be able to pinpoint where the process becomes “stagnant,” and move past it.
Set a firm time limit for how long you will give to analyzing a particular issue. It will vary due to the specific situation, but will force you to move along in the process and cease giving it attention when your timer goes off.
Distract yourself with physical activity when you are tempted to return repeatedly to an issue. Exercise will help clear your mind and raise the level of endorphins pumping through your body. This natural mood elevation will help you let go of overanalyzing things.
Use visual imagery to stop overanalyzing. Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably. Picture a scene in your mind that will help bring calm. Try not to use a memory, as this is also a form of “returning,” but instead use a fresh fantasy of taking a long stroll through an English garden or imagine soaking in a warm mineral spring.
Force yourself to let go of issues once they are finalized. Do this by consciously stopping your thoughts when they stray toward the resolved concern. Tell yourself the truth about the situation, especially if it went badly, by expressing it in a single sentence to yourself and mentally put it to rest. You will likely have to practice repeatedly to free yourself, but eventually it will work.
- Women Who Think Too Much; Susan Nolen-Hoeksema; 2004