To kick off this blog, I’d like to share a quote that models my feelings lately:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu
Often we find ourselves worrying about what’s to come–what does my future hold? Will my date like me? Or we worry about past interactions–what did she really mean by that comment? These thoughts and reflections can quickly spiral out of control into a full-blown, end-of-the-world situation if we’re not careful. But the truth is, overthinking and analyzing, often called ruminating, will get us nowhere in life. It won’t make us feel better (it will probably make us feel worse!) and it won’t change reality.
In fact, I am perhaps one of the worst offenders. I have a horrible tendency to blow things out of proportion. Once, I overthought a text that read “Yep that’s fine” and decided the person was mad at me. When I worked up the courage to ask them what was wrong, I discovered they were just super busy at work and I had stressed myself (and them) out for absolutely no reason.
So I’ve discovered the only thing you can do is live in the moment and relax. Breathe. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the impressions of others or your own uncertain future. It doesn’t matter!
The only thing that does matter is that you are enjoying life and living it to the best degree you possibly can. If you are happy with yourself and your choices, then you’re doing fine!
The past is behind us for a reason. The future is ahead of us for a reason. Neither are accessible right now except through memories and hopes, and both are a sadly passive way to experience life. Living in the present is the only way to actively live and take control of your own life.
So how do we kick these bad habits of ruminating?
Step One: Acknowledgement.
Realize you have a negative tendency of thinking. Check that off the list!
Step Two: Action.
Recognize the anxious/depressing thoughts when you feel them creeping up. Remind yourself that this is a toxic way of thinking and that it’s not productive. Force these thoughts into exile, and instead of overthinking…
Step Three: Replacement.
Think about things that make you happy. Think about your dog, or what flowers you want to plant next in your garden. Think about how you haven’t talked to your uncle in a while and call him up. Read a book. Create something. Occupy yourself with something constructive and soon, the ugly habits will banish themselves from your mind!
A recent goal of mine is to be more present and worry less, and these are the steps I take to clear my mind of insecurities, fears and stress. Next time you feel your thoughts negatively spiraling downwards, try out a more positive way of thinking. I’d love to hear your success stories!
Good luck and happy thinking!
“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” ~William James