How to Stop Overthinking

You’re missing out on what’s in front of you

Darius Foroux
Forge
Published in
4 min readSep 3, 2019

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A young woman leans on a railing, with her hand next to her face, as she looks out the window in deep thought.
Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

How many hours per day do you think?

“I never thought about that,” you’re probably saying. So let me get this straight: You’re thinking all the time, and yet you never consider how much time you spend thinking. That sounds like an addiction to me. I know, because I’m addicted to thinking, too.

Overthinking is a common problem, but when it gets out of hand it can lead to sleep disruption, “analysis paralysis,” and even threaten mental health. It’s also a difficult one to diagnose, let alone cure.

When I eat too much, I can say, “I’m overeating. I need to eat less.” When I work too much, I can say, “I’m getting burned out. I need to stop working.” When I drink too much, I can say, “I need to stop. I need a bottle of water.” But when I think too much, it’s not enough to just say “I’m overthinking.” I need a different approach to unclog my brain.

The problem is that most people don’t consider overthinking a problem. When someone criticizes overthinking, we often assume that the problem is dwelling upon or spiraling through negative thoughts. We tend to assume, by the same token, that positive thoughts are good. But it’s a mistake to assume all positive thoughts are good.

What most self-help advice says is to scrap the negative thoughts and double down on the positive thoughts. On the surface, this sounds like good advice. But the truth is that when you overuse your brain, for positive or negative, it can get clogged just like a drain. The result? Foggy thinking. Which leads to bad decision- making.

You are not your thoughts

Thinking isn’t considered a habit to curb because it’s so closely connected to our core identities. No one said it better than Marcus Aurelius in Meditations: “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

What he’s saying is that our lives are shaped by the quality of our thoughts. I believe in that. However, most of us assume that we are our thoughts.

We say: “Well, I can’t help but think these things. That’s just me.” No, that’s not you. You can decide what thoughts to ignore. I like how Eckhart Tolle puts it in The Power Of Now: “The beginning of…

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Darius Foroux
Forge
Writer for

My new book, The Stoic Path to Wealth (Porfolio / Penguin), is coming out July 16th: stoicpathtowealth.com