Dec 7, 2022 Overcoming Overthinking: How to be a Balanced Thinker

Many of us have had a time or several in our lives when we have experiences we can’t stop thinking about, no matter how hard we may try. Especially when situations go differently than we expected or we are faced with dealing with change, we may pick them apart. We rack our brains to see what we could’ve said or done differently. The conclusion of a presentation leaves us thinking about what additional information we could’ve added to it to make it better. As we end a conversation, we’re flooded with intrusive thoughts about how we fumbled the exchange and what we should or shouldn’t have said. 

It’s one thing to have intrusive thoughts of regret from time to time. But it’s another thing entirely to have persistent, frequent, overly negative thoughts

We all have times when we worry about interactions, relationships, family, health, work, and more. Doing so is common. But there are also times when we may worry too much and overthink. This blog explores dealing with intrusive thoughts, the experience of overthinking, and ways to overcome it and gain a healthy balance of the mind.

Intrusive Thoughts Affect Your Mood & Overall Well-being

Overthinking can be unhealthy. Dwelling on the past, fretting over the future, and focusing on negative thoughts and feelings may cause more stress than the situation itself. Ruminating over problems is like playing a record of negativity on a loop in your mind. The replays can be stressful and prevent you from creating logical solutions to your problems. For many, these intrusive thoughts are unwanted and can’t be helped. These negative thoughts may become more frequent than positive thoughts. You may feel broken because positive thoughts don’t come to you as easily, even though you feel they should. 

Consider seeing a licensed clinician who can help you understand why you might overthink and guide you toward healthier thinking. If you’re seeking counseling in Yakima, WA, Susan Delia Counseling Services can help you keep from getting stuck in your head.

Imposter Syndrome Can Cause Thoughts of Doubt & Unworthiness

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where an individual doubts their abilities, feels like a fraud, and fears being exposed as incompetent, even though they may be highly accomplished and successful. Imposter syndrome can have a negative impact on mental health, causing feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. People with imposter syndrome may constantly compare themselves to others, feel overwhelmed by their own expectations, and struggle to acknowledge their accomplishments, leading to chronic stress and burnout. Seeking support from a mental health professional or trusted confidant can be helpful in managing imposter syndrome and improving overall mental well-being.

Why Overthinking Occurs 

Overthinking can be a symptom of anxiety, stress, or depression that’s hard to stop. Trying to figure out how to redirect obsessive thoughts can feel impossible. Negative thoughts start intruding on the mind and initiate a chase down a rabbit hole. They can make you panic. Accompanying your mental anguish may be the physical pains, aches, sweat, and rapid heartbeats akin to a panic attack.

The cognitive errors and destructive thought patterns that comprise overthinking can breed anxiousness. Some common forms of negative thought patterns include:

  • Overgeneralizing. This negative thinking pattern refers to generalizing a failure or setback we experience to all situations. Overgeneralizing can lead to intrusive thoughts and assumptions that things will always go wrong for us. 

Clients in anxiety or trauma counseling sessions in Yakima, WA, with Susan Delia receive the solution-focused guidance they need to view the potential and actual outcomes of their experiences in more logical, balanced ways.

  • All-or-nothing thinking. Overthinking this way consists of having intrusive thoughts that lack a middle ground. Your thoughts are split into extremes of either negative thoughts or positive ones. For instance, all-or-nothing thinkers see themselves as incredibly successful or failures. This thinking involves absolute terms like “ever” or “never.” Ultimately, thinking this way can keep you from seeing alternative solutions when necessary because an anxiety-driven mind only focuses on seeing the downside. 

In counseling in Yakima, WA, with Susan Delia Counseling Services, clients who engage in this overthinking can benefit from the gentle reminder that most things in life exist somewhere between extremes.

  • Catastrophizing. This is an extreme form of negative thinking in which your worries culminate in the worst-case scenario. Getting caught up in overthinking can make us go right to the worst possible outcome, overestimating how likely it is to happen. For instance, what may start as worries about taking a test can grow into excessive obsessions over failing it. This can lead to assumptions that failing it means you’re a bad student bound to amount to nothing and never have a successful, fulfilling career. 

Unfortunately, such intrusive thoughts can be a coping mechanism for some people. Clients receiving counseling in Yakima, WA, from Susan Delia will learn that these negative thoughts are counterproductive. These self-punishing thoughts aren’t effective defenses against the fear of failure.

Image of a cairn or stacked stones on the Washington coastline. This photo is meant to represent balance in the aim to overcome negative thoughts.

Catastrophizing and worrying about something doesn’t somehow make you more prepared for a negative outcome than if you hadn’t worried. In solution-focused brief therapy with Susan Delia, clients learn to rely on their inner strength to make the most of life and turn away from negative exaggerations that hold them back. These hope-cultivating sessions teach clients to be resilient, optimistic, and goal-driven instead of anxiety or trauma-driven.

Ways to Balance Your Thinking

Anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, and the intrusive thoughts accompanying them are dishonest about your value. Whatever it is that makes you believe you’re inadequate in some way ultimately causes you real pain and enables you to become your worst enemy. In solution-focused therapy for anxiety or trauma in counseling in Yakima, WA, with Susan Delia, you can learn how to reframe your thoughts and views of your experiences and become your biggest supporter.

If you aren’t ready for the step of solution-focused therapy for anxiety, here are some steps you can take in the meantime. You can overcome intrusive thoughts by:

  1. Writing down your concerns, worries, and fears. Don’t let an overthinking loop caused by your past hijack your present and future. Instead of allowing your mind and body to serve as a playground for negative thoughts to run amok, let a journal serve as their resting place. Writing your worries down can be cathartic and give you the clarity you need to engage in better problem-solving.
  2. Showing self-compassion. Solution-focused brief therapy implemented in counseling sessions in Yakima, WA, with Susan Delia encourages clients to make the most of their internal strengths and resources. To tap into your resilience is to know you are capable. This requires more self-compassion and self-confidence and less self-criticism. Make more of an effort to say kind things to yourself when you’re stressed or feel like you performed poorly. Responding compassionately to intrusive thoughts can help you retrain your negative thinking patterns. It can help you see your true worth and value and know that you deserve forgiveness, fairness, love, kindness, and respect.
  3. Rethink “what if” thoughts. At the crux of solution-focused brief therapy is gaining the ability to use your strengths to implement practical solutions in the face of problems. When you can successfully problem-solve, you’ll be able to carry out logical, beneficial plans to attain goals effectively. Try responding to obsessive, intrusive thoughts with clear alternatives to help you put positive plans into action. For every “what if” question, try to create an “if-then” answer. This way, even if the worst-case “what if” scenario occurs, you’ll have a concrete “if-then” plan to improve the circumstances.
This is an image of a young woman walking in the cold with a turtleneck and coat who is looking off into the distance with a positive expression. She appears hopeful and confident about her ability to banish negative thoughts after her therapy sessions at Susan Delia Counseling Center in Yakima.

Overcome Negative Thoughts in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Yakima, Washington or Florida

Remember that experiencing intrusive thoughts or overthinking isn’t your fault. You never asked for negative thoughts to intrude on your peace. Acknowledge, however, that you’re allowed to have thoughts you disagree with or know are untrue. Give yourself a chance to recognize and change negative and intrusive thoughts. Reach out to Susan Delia, LICSW, for counseling, care, guidance, and support in a safe space that empowers you to reframe your thoughts logically at your own pace. Working together with a therapist will help you figure out how to redirect obsessive thoughts that dwell on anxieties and traumas. Then, you can have more balanced thinking patterns conducive to enhancing mental, emotional, behavioral, and social health and achieving your goals of living less distressed in the future. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety in particular can be effective in helping you overcome intrusive and anxious thoughts.

Delia Counseling Services provides quality CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) for anxiety, depression, grief and loss, relationship concerns, and life transitions. Susan Delia serves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy clients online in Florida and online and in-person in the Yakima, Washington area, including zip codes 98902 and 98901 and beyond.

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