Determining whether or not you have an addiction to your thoughts isn't as simple as one may imagine. The reality is that people can become addicted to just about anything. When human beings get to the point of craving something beyond their self-control — even when they know it's not good for them — it's an addiction. Unfortunately, the only kinds of addictions you hear about are the ones that are most destructive (drugs and the like), but that doesn't mean that's the only way it can manifest.
We all have different ways of coping with our issues, but for people who simply feel too much, thinking (or really, over-thinking) can seem like the way out. However, what most don't realize is that over-thinking is really the way in to the emotional issue, and in the same way that succumbing to the addictive habit keeps you from actually addressing the real problem at hand, over-thinking when you start over-feeling only makes it worse. You are addicted to your thoughts if you do any of the following to the point of it being a serious problem:
- You think about your life more than you live it.
- You get overly-attached to the idea of relationships as opposed to the people you are in them with.
- You can't help but follow a rabbit trail of thought when it occurs to you.
- You take every single thing that crosses your mind seriously.
- You don't know how to ignore thoughts that are hurtful or unhelpful.
- You often find yourself helpless at the whim of your own mind.
Granted, everyone is guilty of these to some degree, but for those with a real attachment to thinking, it's a lot more complicated than that. Here, a few ways to begin to dismantle the mania:
Take An Honest Look At How Much You Do Versus How Much You Think
Taking a cold, hard look at how much of your life (and your work day, and your evenings off) you spend wrapped up in your own mind can be just the wake up call you need to start changing your habits.
When Emotions Come Up, Learn To Let Them Be — See How You Really Feel When You Aren't Trying To Talk Your Way In Or Out Of Something
If you're addicted to your thoughts, it likely means there's a disconnect between what you love and what you think you love. What this means is: you are probably living your life completely in your mind, choosing partners because you can think your way into how great they are as opposed to really feeling how it is to be with them, and so on. When you stop trying to change your feelings, you'll see how things really are.
While You're Healing, Plan And Schedule Tons Of Activities
You need to get back out into life and start living again. The best way to do more than you think is to make plans that you can't go back on, so have someone around to hold you accountable.
Set Aside Time To Think And Reflect
Take maybe an hour (if that) each night as time that you've specifically designated for thinking and reflecting on your day. When you do this, you will be forced to only think of what's important and what absolutely requires your reflection and attention. This will do a lot to ensure that you aren't overthinking anything, but also aren't letting your life slide by unchecked.
Start Differentiating Thoughts And Feelings
Your addiction to your thoughts is an addiction to the feeling that they give you. What you need to do is realize that thoughts crop up in your mind constantly, and in themselves, make you feel nothing. It's when you attach a feeling to them, or vice versa, that you get yourself into trouble. Every time you are reminded of something, see something, etc. that you've attached a feeling to — you suffer. Learn that thoughts and feelings are completely separate, and start experiencing them as such.
It's Likely That There's Not Enough Going On Your Life, Despite The Fact That It Seems Like There's Too Much
If there were more going on in your life, you wouldn't have time to sit around and overthink it so much. Accepting this can help you put so much of your struggle into perspective.
Figure Out What's Holding You Back From Getting Out There And Living
Likely, it's a set of thoughts and feelings and beliefs about yourself, the world, what fun is, what you're capable of, or what's possible that you also need to dismantle.
Ask Yourself What You Think Thoughts Shield You From
Do they make you feel more safe, because you are considering negative possibilities before they happen? Do they make you feel better, because you aren't happy with reality? Granted, thinking can serve both of those purposes in extremely healthy ways, but when it gets out of control, it's a deflection mechanism, and at that point, a real problem.
Stop Trying To Tame Your Mind
You are always, always, always going to have scary, weird, upsetting thoughts ... that's a given. That's part of being human. The point is always how much weight you give to them, how seriously you take them, and whether or not you develop the kind of self-awareness that lets you pick and choose which thoughts matter.
Focus On What You Feel Your Life Is Lacking
The pain that's underneath the need to overthink? Yeah, that's a product of something being missing in your life. You need to do the work to meet this need of yours — whether it's for love, or for companionship, or for more work (spoiler: it will probably have something to do with your relationship to yourself).
Stop Letting Your Emotions Run On Auto Pilot
At first, this will be difficult: you've likely spent 20 plus years operating one particular way, so it's not going to change over night! But little by little, show yourself that you can choose what you think, and you can choose which feelings get your energy, therefore, you can choose how you feel.
Take Actions That "Prove" Your New Beliefs To You
You are not going to believe anything until you see it for yourself, until it becomes self-evident. If you want to believe that your life is good and that you are thriving and that you are in control of your experience, start showing yourself that you are. There is no other way.
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