Those of us with anxiety know just how debilitating an over-analytical brain can be. You might not even have anxiety, maybe your brain is just wired to constantly be thinking about the tiniest details that you think matter, but ultimately do not.
Oftentimes an over-analytical brain affects one’s mood and can even keep you from moving forward in life. It forces you to live in some space other than the present moment.
Oddly enough, a recent study out of the University of California at Santa Barbara discovered that striving to absorb and analyze too much detail in life has a negative effect on memory and information retention. So, in a sense, an over-analytical brain actually ends up performing worse than a brain that is less concerned with detail.
Here are four techniques we can practice to keep our brains from thinking too much.
Practice comfortability alongside uncertainty
Uncertain outcomes and circumstances are the bane of overthinking brains. Why? Because these brains strive to bring certainty where there is none. They’re trying to provide an answer where no answer can be provided. And instead of accepting that they don’t know all the answers, they choose to dwell on the fact that they don’t know the answers.
The best option? Learn how to accept that there are some things in this world that will never be understood, and do your best to move forward. Find comfort in the unknown.
Practice finding the big picture
Instead of analyzing every single tiny detail, practice taking in all of the information as a set. For example, in the study cited above, subjects were shown pictures of kaleidoscope colors. The overthinkers were trying to remember patterns and certain colors, while the underthinkers simply tried to remember what the image looked like as a whole. Because of this, the underthinkers actually recalled more visual information than the overthinkers who analyzed too much detail.
Practice recognizing negative self-thoughts
Have you ever thought about the way that you think? You probably have, considering you’re reading an article about debilitating thought patterns. It is typical for overthinkers to have a negative inner dialogue running inside their minds due to their overthinking brain.
One way to combat all of this negativity is to identify these negative thoughts as being negative and then consciously reject them as part of our identity. In other words, recognize any negative thoughts and counteract them with positive thoughts reinforcing the person you believe yourself to be. It’s a technique rooted in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and can help people achieve self-compassion over the usual self-loathing.
Practice learning how to gain control
Sometimes an over-analytical brain is caused by a need for control. If this is your case, then your best option is to figure out a way to feel more in control--which usually means finding some physical action you can take to exert that control. Maybe it’s starting a journal and writing down all of the issues you’re having down on paper. Whatever is that is out of your control, find any and all steps you can take to make it feel more under control, however small they may be at first.