Sometimes, don’t you wish you could just get your brain to SHUT UP?
Maybe you see a cute guy or girl you want to talk to or your boss looks free to chat at the company picnic. So what do you do?
Your head starts spinning up scenarios right?
You think of what you should say first and the way you’ll say it. Then…wait… Maybe you should say it another way that might work better. Yeah, and then if they reply in a certain way, you’ll come back with…
…oh drat. Someone else is talking to them now.
Aaargh! How do you stop the madness? How do you stop over thinking so you stop missing out on your life?
Well, a reader of mine recently asked that very question. Here’s his e-mail:
Hey Dean, would you be able to give us advice on how NOT to over think?
Here’s an example:
I like this girl at the moment, and I would really like to talk to her but I over think the situation. e.g. if I say [this or that], how is she gonna react, and I end up not talking to her.
Would you be able to help me with not over thinking?
Thanks a lot much appreciated,
Here was my response:
Over-thinking is the result of lots of things like your inner state of confidence, self-esteem, prior experience with the situation, etc. So, it would take more than a few tips to fully eradicate over-thinking.
But having said that, here are a few tips that might help you start tackling the problem:
- Take in the details. When you feel yourself over-thinking, start looking around your surroundings at the little details. Is the sky cloudy or clear? What color clothes are the people around you wearing? What smells are drifting through the air? The point of this is not necessarily to come up with things to talk about (although it CAN help you do that), but to get out of your head and into the present moment. By noticing these details, you are TAKING AN ACTION other than thinking about the situation in your head. You use your brain to pull yourself into the now instead of thinking about possible scenarios or whatever else happens when you over-think.
- Ramp up socially. Next, start talking to OTHER people besides this girl (or whoever it might be you’re dying to talk to). By chit chatting with others, you warm yourself up socially and get into the talking vibe. Don’t just talk with one person either. Talk with several different people from different groups if possible. Start off with people you know, other friends, then maybe move on to people you know less. What you’re doing here is “ramping up” to talking to that person who makes you nervous. This also has the added benefit of keeping you busy so you don’t go back to over-thinking everything.
- Realize it’s OK to be Human. Realize it’s OK to feel anxious and nervous. You’re human and it’s natural. Especially in your situation (a guy going to talk to a girl), we almost always feel a bit of nervousness. Don’t try to fight it. Just accept that the feeling is there and go talk to her anyway. Same advice goes for any social situation where you want to talk to someone or a group but feel anxious. In fact, this is how you gain confidence…by being courageous and acting in the face of fear.
- Watch out for errors of thinking. When you start over-thinking, your thought patterns can quickly become irrational and totally unhelpful. Be on the lookout for the following “cognitive distortions” and be ready to counteract them.
- Universalizing – You think if you mess up a conversation with this person, it means you’ll fail with all new people for the rest of your life. No, it doesn’t mean that. In fact, the very next person you talk to is a new opportunity to succeed. Remembering this can help you alleviate some of that paralyzing fear.
- Focusing on the negative – You start thinking you’ll mess this interaction up because you always mess up talking to strangers. Not likely. There are probably plenty of times you’ve done well or ok talking to someone new, but you’re choosing to think of only the bad. This only puts you in a self-defeating frame of mind.
- Black or white thinking – You think of life in all or nothing terms. An example of this regarding over-thinking is you look for the “perfect” way to start a conversation. You waste time trying to find the best way to interact with someone when in reality there are an infinite number of ways to successfully begin. The key is to just start talking and see where things go.
Well, I hope these tips help.
Good luck. But remember…if things don’t go well with this girl, you’ll always have another chance. Not only with her, but with the (literally) billions of other people in the world. It’s not all or nothing!
And likewise, good luck to you too. Just remember, this isn’t something that will go away overnight. But by regularly working at it, you’ll eventually be more in the moment, and more into your life, than ever before.
And really, that’s what this is all about right? NOT missing out on your life anymore.
Because if you stop and think about it, you probably have a vision in your head of how you’d like to be socially.
In fact, if you’re anything like I was, you don’t have to think very hard, that vision is a powerful yearning you’ve had for years.
So if you’d like to start making that vision a reality, click here for some free videos that I’m positive can help.
(image courtesy of Creative Ignition via Flickr)