Overthinking. We all do it. We all try our best to stay positive and remain optimistic. Occasionally however, we fall through a trapdoor infested with negativity that all too frequently emerges beneath our feet. That persistent obsession to worry about, and over-analyse past experiences – experiences, by the way, that we can’t just miraculously eradicate from existence. Current stresses on the other hand, we CAN adapt for. Nevertheless, we still read into things that just aren’t there. If you often find yourself doing this, psychologists refer to you as a ruminator, or overthinker. My defining example of this would be the stereotypical ‘first date’ scenario – and due to its relevance, I will use myself as an example.
On the 23rd of May this year, I went on a date with a woman I was really interested in. For the first time in about a year, I had this genuine feeling of attraction and affection, and this lead me to panic and overthink. When you want to impress someone, it is easy for you to question your own worth.
‘What if she finds me boring?’
‘What if I come across arrogant?’
These often irrational thoughts are catastrophically debilitating. If I had let them get to me, I would have acted completely out of character, and no doubt the date would have ended differently. Overthinking is highly correlated to nervousness. However, nervousness is just excitement viewed through a negative lens. Overthinking and nerves are not necessarily bad things; it just shows that you care about something and/or someone. The negative aspects only come through if you struggle maintaining those thoughts.
In terms of what we strive for, I believe that, what is truly yours, will eventually be yours; and what is not, no matter how hard you try, will never be. If you dedicated everything you have to something, do not get hung up on the plethora of potentials to why it didn’t work out. We can spend days, weeks, or even months over-analysing a situation; trying to put the pieces back together, considering what else we could have done. It is at this point that you just need to step back, appreciate it for what it was, and move forward. I began to realise this as the weeks went on. It wasn’t going to work with this girl, and I accepted that.
‘For the sake of our emotional sanity, we need to change what we can’t accept, and accept what we can’t change.’ – Samqurashi
Therefore, it’s time we stopped contemplating whether or not we made a wrong decision, or whether someone likes us. It is time we avoided meticulously sieving through, in painstaking detail, why something didn’t work out. But, most importantly, it is time to stop overthinking whether you are happy or not. If you stop to notice, I’m sure you will also find that you aren’t genuinely happy when you’re overthinking whether you are or not. Sometimes you just need to enjoy what you have, and let yourself feel happy.
Sure, life gets incredibly difficult. But it’s important to remember to go to bed grateful that you have one. Happiness is not a mindset you arrive at when everything is perfect. It only arises when you finally decide to love and immerse yourself in the messy, imperfect and beautiful journey that is life. Keep your eyes open, it’s more breath-taking than we could have possibly imagined.