RYAN ALTMAN

🆙 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Overthinking

How often do you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of thoughts and mental chatter?

For many of us, the constant buzz of an overactive mind is an all-too-familiar experience.

The worst is when we wake up in the middle of the night with a flood of thoughts we can’t control.

But I have good news – it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this newsletter, I’ll share four simple yet powerful steps to help you overcome overthinking and cultivate a greater sense of inner peace and clarity.

These steps have made a profound difference in my own life, and I’m excited to pass them along.

Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Acknowledge the problem of over-attaching to thoughts
  2. Understand why overthinking happens
  3. Practice discipling your mind through meditation
  4. Make thinking a conscious choice


Let’s get into it.

Step #1 – Acknowledge the problem

The first thing to understand is that we’ve attached ourselves to thought in an unhealthy and unconscious way.

We’ve placed thinking at the center of the way we interact with the world and ourselves.

We give more energy to thinking about our lives, than actually living our lives.

The more attention we give to thinking, whether consciously or not, the more we feed the mind’s power to think more thoughts.

In the process, we become blinded to the truth that thought is limited and conditioned.

Thought is certainly powerful, but we’ve elevated into something that its not.

Thought cannot solve all our problems.

Rather than a tool, thoughts have become who we are–and it deeply troubles us.

Over-thinking is a symptom from this imbalance of power between our soul and our mind.

To stop over-thinking we need to become aware of the energy we unconsciously give the mind and thoughts, and take back that energy for ourselves.

Step #2 – Understand why it happens

Why do we think incessantly?

The answer is simple.

Survival.

The default mode of the brain is a steady stream of unconscious thought about our survival.

This stream of unconscious thinking is often called the ‘monkey mind.’

I like this analogy for several reasons.

For one, monkey mind nicely visualizes the experience of the mind’s constant movement from one thought to the next, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch.

It also describes the evolutionary purpose of unconscious thought as a survival tool.

Thought is one of the great advantages humans have over other animals.

We’ve depended on self-referential thoughts for survival, especially in relation to the social groups we’ve lived in.

Once you start becoming more conscious of your thoughts, you’ll notice they’re mostly about desires or fears that at their core are about your survival, especially as it relates to your status in society.

You cannot stop this evolutionary mechanism.

It’s far too powerful to stop.

So, what can you do?

You can understand that you have a choice to put your attention on this flow of thought, or something else.

You have a choice.

To stop over-thinking we have to discern the tendency of the mind to think about its survival, and then make the conscious choice to participate with this evolutionary programming, or not.

Step #3 – Practice discipling your mind

It’s through discipline that we gain the power to choose how we participate with thought, and tame the beast of over-thinking.

The best way to do this is through meditation.

Think of thoughts like a constant stream of objects in your consciousness.

Without discipline, the mind is like a child picking up and getting distracted by whatever objects happens to be near them.

We’ve all seen this tendency in babies, they habitually grab whatever is around them.

It’s the same for the undisciplined mind.

An undisciplined mind picks up and follows whatever thoughts arise, giving them energy and control over us.

As we meditate, we learn to observe the mind rather than getting caught up in its habit of ‘picking up’ and getting attached to thoughts.

We learn how to drop thoughts.

Dropping thought is essentially another word for practicing concentration.

We drop a thought by shifting our attention to focus on another object, like the breath or a sensation.

More experienced meditators, can drop thought into the background objectless awareness itself.

By dropping thoughts, we take back energy that habitually goes into them in an endless cycle.

We can also use meditative practices like breathing techniques and pranayama to cultivate calmness which slows down thinking.

The ancient yogis discovered that the breath and mind are connected, and when we slow down one, we slow down the other.

As we practice discipling the mind in meditation, we acquire the ability to slow it down, and redirect our attention and energy away from the flow of thoughts to objects of our choosing.

Step #4 – Make thinking a conscious choice

With understanding and the discipline cultivated through meditation, you can begin to consciously choose how to engage with thinking in your daily life.

Thinking itself isn’t bad–it’s incredibly useful in many situations.

But there will be other times where you don’t want to use it, and you’ll need to disengage and be present.

For example, when I get triggered emotionally, I consciously try to focus on the emotion to process it, rather than get lost in the stream of thoughts the emotion creates.

This has helped me calm down so many times from powerful emotional reactions.

The more you practice choosing where you put your attention in daily life, the more trust you’ll build in your ability to guide your mind with wisdom and self-control.

Conclusion

As we wrap up, remember: you can never stop thoughts entirely–that’s like trying to fight the wind to make it stop it.

It’ll never work.

Instead, you can choose where to invest your energy and attention consciously.

Through meditation, you’ll tame the mind’s habits to attach to thinking and reclaim your soul’s power.

It takes practice, but it’s worth it to have the clarity and peace of a balanced mind.

Eventually, the overthinking that once kept you awake at night will be put to bed for good.

Go fearlessly,
Ryan

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