In the last 23 years working with singers there’s one thing I see getting in their way that has NOTHING to do with the vocal instrument, musicianship, or performance.
Overthinking has two main forms:
ruminating about the past and…
worrying about the future.
Because overthinkers spend so much time in the past and the future,
they rarely spend time in the only place where they can take useful action:
When cows eat fresh grass, it goes to a special stomach to ferment.
Then, they regurgitate it, and chew it again.
This process is called ruminating, and that’s where we get the name for the human habit of replaying past events in our minds.
Can you relate?
Unlike in reflection, when a person turns to the past to look for lessons for the future, in rumination, the same thoughts cycle again and again, with no useful end point.
What’s worse, when humans ruminate, we tend to fixate on negative events.
We might replay an argument, or relive an embarrassing event, or come up with long lists of things we wish we’d said.
When ruminating, we tend to dwell on things that have gone wrong, mistakes we’ve made, or our imperfections.
This sort of negative thinking causes stress, tension, and anxiety.
Overthinking can also lead to depression, and, in a chicken-and-egg situation, people who have depression tend to spend more time overthinking.
Whereas rumination is about the past, worry is about the future.
While all humans worry about the future from time to time, overthinkers can lose hours to a spiral of worries.
Overthinkers also worry about things that are out of their control.
They worry about the weather, natural disasters, and political situations half-way around the world.
Closer to home, an overthinker may worry about which kindergarten will help their child be most successful as an adult, or spend days making pro/con lists for vacation destinations.
When overthinkers spend so much time worrying about what they can’t control, they waste time and energy they could spend working on things they can control.
For example, you can’t control natural disasters, but you can make sure you have 72 hours of emergency supplies on hand.
You can’t control how your child will live their life, but you can love them and support them as they grow.
You can’t control other people, but you can create a positive atmosphere that will help your family, friends and colleagues flourish.
3 Ways to Break the Cycle of Overthinking
When you overthink, you are dwelling in the past or the future, not in the here and now. Try these tips to bring yourself back to the present:
- Move your body. Whether you stretch, walk around the block, or do a few burpees, physical movement helps calm the mind.
- Engage your senses. Whether you inhale some essential oils, bite a lemon, or pet the cat, engaging your senses helps you come back to the moment.
- Breathe. Sometimes, a few deep, slow breaths are all it takes to calm the body and mind.
The more you practice these techniques, the easier it will become to stop the cycle of overthinking.
I’m more prone to worrying about the future. What about you?
Would you say you’re more likely to ruminate or worry?