When you’re in love, it’s so tempting to ruminate and obsess. But overthinking is unhealthy and destructive. If you’re ready to learn how to stop overthinking a relationship, try these seven strategies for women who think too much…
In You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life, neuroscientists Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding describe how the brain works and why we often feel besieged by overactive brain circuits (i.e. bad habits, social anxieties, overthinking relationships, thinking too much, etc.). They explain that the key to making life changes that you want – how to make your brain work for you – is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention. If you learn how to stop overthinking with their techniques, you’ll change bad cognitive habits that lead to anxiety and even depression.
On How to Know if You Should Reconcile After a Separation, a reader asked if she should wait for her husband to ask her for a date after they separated, or if she should ask him out. She was paralyzed with indecision and fear because she didn’t know how to stop overthinking her relationship. I encouraged her to ask her husband out for coffee and stop overanalyzing everything.
That’s when paralysis and fear sets in: when we think too much.
7 Ways to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship
Psychologists have found that overthinking can is emotionally, physically, and even spiritually harmful. Overthinking relationships and other life events can lead to anxiety and depression. Overthinkers are more prone to sustained sadness and negative thinking. Overthinking has also been shown to impair problem solving and rational thought, and interfere with initiative and motivation.
Women, by the way, are much more likely than men to ruminate on stress and disappointments – and engage in overthinking a relationship – than men. Overthinking also spreads negative thoughts and fosters a pessimistic view of the situation and a relationship.
Be patient with my tips on how to stop overthinking
When I wrote How to Let Go of Someone You Love eight years ago, I shared my experience with a family estrangement that devastated me. My sister stopped talking to me; it was the worst experience I’ve ever had. For about seven long, hard years I overanalyzed my behavior as a sister and berated myself for being a bad person. I never once blamed my sister for her decision to cut me out of her life, or for the pain she caused me by suddenly giving me the silent treatment.
Have you lived a lifetime of overthinking relationships? Take a deep breath, and allow yourself time to learn differently. Know that learning how to stop overthinking in your relationship is difficult, especially when you’ve overanalyzed conversations and actions for years or even decades. It takes time to unlearn the habit of thinking too much.
Get an objective perspective from someone you trust
I didn’t talk to a counselor or pastor about my sister, but I did tell my husband and a couple of close friends about my tendency to obsess about her decision. They were “on my side” – but I didn’t believe them when they reassured me that I had done nothing wrong. I thought they had to side with me, because they love me! I didn’t talk to a wise, objective counselor or therapist.
Instead of getting an objective perspective on my sister’s decision to leave me, I allowed myself to overthink our relationship for years. What a waste of time, energy, and emotional zest! I could’ve been using my emotions and energy for valuable things, not wasting it on regret and self-hatred.
Then stop talking about it
After you share your experience with someone you trust (or write about how you can’t stop overthinking a relationship in the comments section below), you must stop talking about it. The more you talk about it, the more you think about it.
Instead of talking about how to stop overthinking, ask your friends, family, and coworkers about their lives. Make conversation about them, not you. If you’re not sincerely interested in what’s going on in your loved ones’ lives, then start thinking about how to care for others more. Get over yourself!
Distract yourself – a practical way to stop overthinking a relationship
When you find yourself ruminating about something you or someone else said or did, distract yourself. Some psychologists recommend “thought stopping” by putting an elastic around your wrist and snapping it when you find yourself thinking too much. I distract myself by focusing on whatever is true, good, worthy, and holy. I remind myself to think about GOOD things that lift my spirits and settle my soul, not bad things that make me feel like crap.
I also write about my experience as an overthinking and a ruminator, and share it with people like you. Overthinkers like us!
Know that everything happens for a reason
How to Emotionally Detach From Someone You Care About is one of my most popular articles because we have such a hard time letting go. Part of this is overthinking a relationship; we think we can’t live without that person, and we believe our lives are worse because we were left behind.
The truth is that my life may be enhanced because of my sister’s absence in my life. There may be many benefits than I’m not aware of. When I overthink, I forget that I don’t have the full picture, and I’m like an ant in this great big world. I think I’m powerful and in control…but the truth is that I’m small and vulnerable. And yet I am confident and peaceful! Why? Not just because I’ve learned how to stop overthinking relationships, but because I’ve given my heart and life to God.
Surrender to God
Why my sister stopped talking to me I may never know. I went through hours of painful rejection and rumination, and what was the result? Perhaps so you could read my tips on how to stop overthinking a relationship. Maybe I went through my phase of ruminating a lost relationship so you could hear my story…and so God could remind you that He loves you and is watching every detail of your life. He may even be calling you to Him, and wanting you to know that if you surrender to His plan for your life, you never have to worry or overthink or ruminate again.
Find your purpose in life
If you know what you’re here for, then you’re less likely to overthink your relationships. If I didn’t have my Bounce Back Babe blogs, I wouldn’t have figured out how to stop overthinking relationships. Finding my purpose has distracted me from ruminating and wondering why things turned out the way they did.
If you like to be in control of your relationship, read How to Stop Being a Controlling Girlfriend.
I welcome your thoughts on how to stop overthinking a relationship, but I can’t offer advice or counseling. If you want to share what you’re thinking too much about, please feel free!
Trust that you are where you are supposed to be. Everything is unfolding exactly the way it’s meant to.
My prayer is that you hand over your worries, insecurities, fears, and concerns to God. May you be free from overthinking and overanalyzing, and may you find peace in your life.