Thanks to Pinakin Padalia for contributing this article.
Our mentors and page authors are not necessarily psychologists or therapists. Even when they are, this page is not medical or psychological advice and they are not creating a doctor/therapist-client relationship. You should consult a professional if possible and they can tell you whether this advice applies to your situation. If this is an emergency, you should call your national emergency number, like 911, or a mental health hotline, like 1-800-950-6264.
How would you react if I told you that, for no reason, my hand feels like slapping myself? You would probably guess that it is some form of movement disorder. Or that I have completely lost it. But before you reach to a conclusion, isn’t that exactly what our mind does? Aren’t we hurting ourselves through the very way our mind “reacts” to all the situations or people around us? Let us look at this a bit deeper.
Part 1: Recognize that the drama is not the problem
All of us will agree to some level that our mind is a storyteller! What story we narrate inside depends on how we are raised up and what kind of information we have gathered. (I would say it is a form of information recycling! :P). Some people are extremely analytical after going through years of training (education, of course!). Some can grow out to be extremely cautious and under confident when they have made some unpleasant mistakes in their lives. While some can be overly dramatic. We all know these traits and probably have played these roles at some point in time. These traits are very important in many scenarios. One has to be extremely analytical when it comes to comprehending a big project and understanding where to start. One has to be extremely cautious and doubtful when it comes to taking big risks in life. One also needs to be dramatic if one wants to make someone laugh! 😉 You understand what I mean!
However, interesting things happen when this “drama” creeps into irrelevant places. Analytical skills become a problem when trying to handle a relationship. Simply thinking and trying to infer what someone said or did not say becomes so painful! Simple presentations or meetings become a nightmare when under-confidence transcends to inferiority complex. So many reasons we try to come up to avoid social gatherings simply because we feel embarrassed about something or fear that we might be embarrassed. Of course, bringing drama to a technical discussion is a sure shot way to get fired! But, rarely someone is on this side of the spectrum!
So, the problem is not about these traits but where they are being applied. Or in other words, the problem is not that my hand can move, but that it sometimes moves involuntarily (when it is not required) and starts slapping me!
Part 2: Tools to stop overthinking
We may know intellectually that these traits are good to have in relevant situations and not others. But, oh well…if only that was easy to DO!
This is where tools come into picture. As we have used various physical tools to improve our conveniences, we should make use of the tools that people have tried to improve their level of functioning! Mental health tools differ from person to person and it is important to use the tools that work for you. Here is a list of things that might work:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Self-Help: This is a process of recording your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions and learning to practice changing them over time. Please check out our Self Help Toolkit for more.
- Meditation: For some people, the practice of concentrating on one particle idea or process (be it breathing, a candle or a physical form or simply being mindful) allows them to consciously stop the “Drama” in the head and bring it under control. Next time they see the “Drama” running at the wrong time, they are better equipped to stop it!
- Organization: For some bringing some form of organization and discipline has worked very well in gaining a sense of direction and lowering the drama in their minds.
- Yoga: Some people pursue the stillness in mind via stillness of the body. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that mind and body are part of the same system. If one becomes still, the other naturally follows. You cannot sit peacefully if you are mentally agitated and vice versa.
- Physical activity: Remember the increase in dopamine after any form of physical activity? Exercise can help boost your spirits and take your attention away from the thoughts in your head.
- Music: Some people also say music is a form of meditation. Eventually, anything that grabs your attention and has the ability to quieten the “drama” is a form of meditation! 😉
It is always fun to try whichever tool you find interesting!
Part 3: Realize that the “tools” are also in the “drama”!
Now, this may sound strange but, what you do by using the “tools” is shift from one form of “drama,” which was repetitive and involuntary, to another “drama” which is voluntary at some level! This does not undermine the value of those tools, rather it says that they help you direct your “drama” the way you want! Isn’t it the main aim of using the tools in the first place? The “drama” ceases to exist when you realize that you are in control!