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How To Stop Overthinking: 6 Effective Strategies

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Overthinking is a habit that if not taken under control can cause tremendous distress and suffering. When overthinking, our brain tries to convince us that all those worries and ruminations could be helpful. Many overthinkers have a firm belief that they can come up with a better solution or prevent themselves from making the same mistake if they spend more time thinking and analyzing. All these can lead to analysis paralysis which becomes a real problem. The more you think, the worse you feel. Overthinking often leads to anxiety, anger, frustration, fear, and other negative emotions that may cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing the situation clearly. In this article, I want to share with you 6 effective tips on how to stop overthinking and take control of your mind.

What Is Overthinking?

Overthinking is basically what its name suggests – thinking too much. When you are going over the same thought, again and again, so that your brain becomes incapable of translating this thought into actions or positive outcomes. When you think about something too much or for too long, that you can’t get it out of your head and feel worried or stressed about it – this is overthinking.

Do you often worry about the future, catastrophic predictions about events that haven’t happened yet? Do you think with regret about your past, “should haves” and “could haves.” Do you fret over what others might think of you or let negative self-talk build up in your mind? These are examples of overthinking.

If you are one of those who tend to overthink an important decision, replaying all the options in your head, you may experience “paralysis by analysis”. You are so afraid of taking the wrong action, so you take no action at all.

Overthinking often leads to sleepless nights when your brain just won’t turn off, increased symptoms of depression, elevate your stress levels, and cloud your judgment. 

Common Types Of Overthinking

Common Types Of Overthinking Image

Nick Wignall, a clinical psychologist, suggests four common types of overthinking:

#1: Worry

This is one of the most common types of overthinking where we imagine possible problems or dangers in the future.

“Of course, anticipating problems or threats in the future is often a good thing to do! But helpful planning is different from unhelpful worry in that worry doesn’t actually lead to new information or insights that can be helpful. For example, your spouse is on a plane flight and you start worrying about different ways the plane could crash and kill your spouse. This kind of thinking doesn’t actually keep your spouse safe, plus it adds a lot of stress and anxiety to you.” – Nick Wignall

#2: Depressive Rumination

This type of overthinking is about replaying events from the past in an unhelpful way. A depressive rumination is a specific form of overthinking our own past mistakes or failures.

“As opposed to helpful reflection, depressive rumination is unproductive and doesn’t lead to anything but shame, guilt, and sadness at oneself. Depressive rumination is one of the key drivers of not only depression but also self-criticalness and low self-esteem.” – Nick Wignall

#3: Angry Rumination

This type of overthinking is similar to depressive rumination except the object of the overthinking is other people and their mistakes rather than yourself.

“For example, after a fight with your spouse, you find yourself replaying arguments you’ve had with them in the past and going over evidence of why you were right and they were wrong. Although it often feels good in the moment, angry rumination tends to lead to aggression, resentment, and distorted beliefs about other people in our lives.” – Nick Wignall

#4: Fix-It Mode

This type of overthinking happens when someone is sharing a painful or difficult experience with you and you have a hard time tolerating the anxiety that comes from hearing it. It affects you in a way that you begin thinking about best ways to fix the problem or do things differently.

“Fix-It Mode is a form of overthinking because you’re applying problem-solving-style thinking when what would be more helpful is to simply listen empathetically and validate the person’s difficulty rather than trying to fix it (and make yourself feel better in the process).” – Nick Wignall

Of course, there are many other types of overthinking. But the four listed tend to be the most common and often produce the most suffering.

Why Do We Overthink?

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Often, the tendency to overthink roots in unhealed trauma or deep emotional issue. Here are the most common reasons why we overthink:

  • childhood trauma
  • obsessive desire to control the situation
  • intolerance of uncertainty and tendency to pretend that things are more predictable than they are
  • perfectionism (as intolerance of feeling less than perfect)
  • an excuse for procrastinating or avoiding decisions
  • you see everything as a problem to be solved with lots of thinking
  • excessive fear of conflict

Of course, there are many more reasons of overthinking. But the listed seven are some of the most common. The above causes are a good place to start if you want to stop overthinking.

How To Stop Overthinking?

Now let’s talk about how to stop overthinking. Here are six strategies that I find most effective.

#1: Identify the Emotions Behind Overthinking

First, try to identify what emotion is hiding behind your overthinking. For example, when you start overthinking by worrying about future events, it might be the case that overthinking is functioning to relieve or alleviate some anxiety you have about your future. Overthinking may temporarily distract you from your anxiety temporarily and give you the illusion of control in a short term. However, it’s not solving the problem but only makes it worse. Therefore, it’s essential to look for the emotions behind overthinking and ask yourself if there’s a better way to deal with them.

When you take time to identify your emotions and validate them, it helps you to become more productive in the long run.

#2: Challenge Negative Thoughts

Overthinking is often a response to feeling bad emotionally. But if you allow your negative thoughts to take control of your mind, you end up feeling even worse. It’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. The most effective way to switch the frequency of your thought patterns is to practice positive self-talk.

Next time when you start overthinking, pause for a moment and point out that your thinking is not entirely accurate. This simple technique will help you to achieve a more balanced and emotionally neutral way of thinking. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize and replace negative thinking patterns, before they work you up into complete insanity.

#3: Focus On Problem Solving

Overthinking your problems isn’t helpful – but looking for solutions is. If it’s something you have some control over, think about how you can prevent the problem or challenge yourself to identify a couple of potential solutions. If it’s something you have no control over – think about the strategies you can use to cope with it. Instead of overthinking your problems, focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and your effort.

#4: Schedule Time For Reflection

Instead of dwelling on your problems for long periods of time, try to take a brief reflection on them. Constructive reflection can help you to see more clearly how you could do things differently, recognize potential pitfalls to your plan, and perform better in the future.

For example, you could schedule 10 minutes of “thinking time”. During that time period let yourself think, analyze, or mull over whatever you want. But when your time is up, move onto something else. And when you start overthinking things outside of your scheduled thinking time, simply remind yourself that you’ll need to wait until your next “thinking time” session to address those issues in your mind.

You can’t simply make yourself stop worrying. But this simple strategy will train your mind to do it at the right time.

#5: Change Your Activity

If you can’t make yourself stop thinking about something, try to change your activity. Things like exercising, engaging in conversation on a completely different subject, or working on a project can help you to switch the focus of your attention and stop overthinking. Doing something different will put an end to the negative internal dialogue.

#6: Practice Mindfulness

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The mindfulness practice will help you to train yourself to be aware of things without thinking about them. By practicing mindfulness we become able to notice when negative thought patterns arise and shift our attention out of thinking mode and into awareness mode.

You can start practicing mindfulness by simply paying attention to the experience of every activity during daily life rather than thinking about it. Or, you can practice mindfulness meditation. For doing it, simply sit down, close your eyes, and focus on your breath for 20 minutes.

The Bottom Line

Overthinking takes a lot of energy. It takes away your inner peace and harmony. But the good news is that overthinking is a habit and habits can be broken with the right approach and enough patience. If you want to stop overthinking, the key is to understand why you do it and then implement the strategies to eliminate it.

Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Personal Development

Neotantra vs. Classical Tantra: What’s the Difference?

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The original ancient tantra was a path to enlightenment and liberation for anyone on a spiritual path. Later on, the practice became available to other persons, not necessarily on a spiritual path. Today, tantra is available in the West on a commercial level. This modern and commercial version of the original tantra is called neotantra

And, it is popular in the West, used to spice up sex lives or bring harmony in relationships. So, what does neotantra entail? And, how does it differ from the classical tantra version? Let’s discuss more in this article: –

Understanding Tantra

Tantra is a philosophy and a set of practices that form the basis for our healing and transformation. It revolves around working with the three most powerful human experiences. These are sexual desire, love, and our desire for freedom. Historical records indicate that tantra came into Buddhism and Hinduism in the 6th century. At this time, the practice was in spiritual rituals to invoke all-powerful deities. It, however, spread fast in India, with Hindu and Buddhist monasteries studying its ideologies. 

Some of the pioneers of neotantra include: –

  • Sir John Woodroffe
  • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
  • Margot Anand: “Skydancing”  tantra. The Art of Sexual Ecstasy
  • Daniel Odier, Charles Muir, The Richardsons and others

Neotantra vs. Classical Tantra: The Differences

#1: Focus: All vs. Select Ancient Teachings

Classical tantra embraces ancient holistic Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain religious practices. These are authentic tantric teachings to balance, heal, and enrich our physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental being. More so, it liberates us from suffering by getting rid of trauma, societal conditioning, or ignorance, leading us on a path to spiritual awakening.

In contrast, modern tantra focuses on limited ancient instructions relating to sexuality. Here, the practice alters the original teachings on tantric sex to create its western variation. Here, tantric sex draws on the creative power of sexual energy to evoke healing and transformation in our lives. It bridges the gap between sex and spirituality as a form of transcendence. 

#2: Spiritual Sex vs. Sacred Sex

What is neotantra image

Since neotantra focuses only on the teachings on sexuality, it is a small puddle in the original classical tantra. The practice combines modern therapeutic techniques with original tantric concepts like sacred rituals and devotions. It aims at elevating the person into a higher level of spirituality. Hence, sexual pleasure is no longer focused only on the genitals but the entire body. Modern tantra benefits us physically, psychologically, sexually, and spiritually. Check out some of the activities typical of neotantra below: –

  • Purifying one’s chakras and consciousness
  • Making the sexual space sacred
  • Having slow, uninterrupted sex
  • Looking at orgasm as a means, not a goal for sexual intimacy
  • Practicing mindfulness during sex; being present in body and mind
  • Becoming aware of your entire body during sex
  • Practicing meditation and relaxation as part of sexual intimacy
  • Attaining transmutation of one’s sexual energies
  • Maintaining eye contact/gaze with a partner
  • Practicing slow and deep breathing
  • Expressing love 
  • Controlling ejaculation and other sexual impulses

In contrast, classical tantra has three traditional forms as follows: –

Monastric Tradition

The monastic tradition of classical tantra refers to an intense way of living where the participants withdraw from mainstream society to pursue purity. The participants live solitary and disciplined lives, characterized by silence, prayer, and a struggle against sin and vice. They spend most of their time studying the ancient tantric texts and practicing sacred rituals like drawing mandalas, singing mantras, and performing ritual prayers (fire pujas). Likewise, the monks sustained their lives by doing simple manual work like farming, gardening, basket weaving, and rope making.

Householder Tradition

The householder tradition of classical tantra involves lay practitioners applying the sacred concepts of tantra to ordinary everyday activities. For example, lay practitioners seek to find magic or unity in nature, people, and animals. They do this as they go about their lifestyles when talking to others, cleaning, working, meditating, or engaging in intimate relationships. The ultimate goal is to live in communion with the universe. 

Wandering Yogis Tradition

During the early medieval period, the Mahasiddha people living in forests and caves of Northern India practiced the wandering yogis tradition. It is a combination of yoga and tantra, also called tantrikas. These people would hold ganachakra ceremonies, a type of tantric feasts, and practice meditation to celebrate the pleasures of senses. There was singing, dancing, eating meat, drinking alcohol, and having sex. Today, the wandering yogis tradition remains active in India, often taught in yogic schools.

#3: Conflicting Sexual Ideologies & Interpretations

Did you know that some neotantra sexual ideologies are considered as sinful when viewed under classical tantra? Indeed, unlike neotantra, classical tantra does not entertain sexual fantasies in pursuit of sexual pleasure. Also, the original tantra views any sexual activity that involves menstrual blood a taboo. 

#4: The Benefits

modern tantra image

Below are some of the benefits of classical tantra: –

  • Growing presence and self-awareness
  • Practicing self-love and body confidence (acceptance)
  • Harmonizes the active and receptive energies
  • Connects our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual being
  • Expands lovemaking beyond attaining an orgasm
  • Promotes healing, integration, transformation, and spiritual maturity

Here are some of the benefits of neotantra: –

  • Get more from a sexual relationship
  • Attain a sexual awakening characterized by the loving presence and profound intimacy
  • Healing wounds from sexual trauma
  • Have longer and satisfying lovemaking sessions
  • Releases toxic sexual energies, including shame
  • Provokes a journey of self-discovery leading to the entire body or multiple orgasms
  • Improving communication and communion between intimate partners
  • Cultivate a holistic approach towards sexual intimacy, focusing on mind, body, and spiritual connection
  • Delaying orgasm or preventing premature ejaculation or non-ejaculatory orgasms for men

Conclusion

What does tantra mean to you? Tantra continues to be a subject of fascination for many, even misunderstood at times. Yet, the practice has evolved for centuries and is now either classical tantra or modern tantra. Whereas classical tantra sticks to the authentic teachings that are a path to spiritual enlightenment, neotantra focuses on only the sexual component of the original tantra. By channeling sexual energy throughout the body, neotantra aims to achieve a higher level of intimacy and sexual pleasure.

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Personal Development

Empathic Communication: Reaching Out to The Soul

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How much empathy do you naturally have for other people? Do you use this powerful concept to connect with people? See, using empathy in communication makes it easier to tackle topics such as racism and gender-based violence. This approach can calm down violently prone people or make clients respond positively to your team. So, how do you practice empathic communication?  

In this article, I will share the 3 ways to use empathy in communication and how this affects other people. Sounds interesting? Let’s get started.

Understanding Empathic Communication

Empathy refers to our ability to understand and share other people’s feelings. It entails putting yourself in their shoes and looking at the situation at hand from their point of view. Unlike sympathy that divides people, communicating with empathy makes it easy to connect with what others are experiencing at that moment.

Does Communicating with Empathy Make Any Difference?

Yes, empathic communication shapes your interaction with other people as follows: 

#1: You Connect Better You with Your Audience

Empathic communication makes us listen to others to understand their perspective. In turn, your audience knows you hear their point of view and respect it. It is this reciprocation that creates an emotional connection with the audience.

#2: It Portrays Compassion in Your Communication

Suppose you are a call center representative, assisting customers with difficulties using certain products. A caller can tell from your tone or choice of words if you care about them or are simply doing your job. Yet, when you empathize, your show of compassion helps you connect to the other person.

#3: Be Mindful of Your Listeners

Empathic communication forces us to make a careful choice of words when interacting with others. You aim to tailor the message to meet the listener at their perspective. Mindful communication makes every person you interact with feel unique.

It works wonders especially when you deal with lots of clients throughout the day. Each client gets the impression that they are the first ones and that you are eager to know and help them with their orders.

How to Practice Empathic Communication

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Are your interactions with family, friends, or audience robotic? If so, here are empathic communication ideas you can practice to connect better:

#1: Paraphrasing – Check for Understanding

Paraphrasing refers to using your own words to repeat what the other person is saying. It forces you to think about what the other person is telling you. And, when in a group set up, paraphrasing translates words, making more people understand the topic at hand.

Besides, the person talking to you is sure you get them and are not thinking about what you want to say next or a similar situation you’ve had in the past.

To practice paraphrasing:

  • Use your own words to explain what the other person is sharing or feeling.
  • Describe their experiences without injecting your assumptions or beliefs.
  • Start your sentences with such phrases as, “I believe what you mean to say is………………”
  • Use questions to paraphrase. For example, say, “In other words, you’re saying that………….?”
  • Retain the focus on the other person. For example, if someone says, “Working out during the day wears me out. “Don’t paraphrase as, “We probably all get tired when working out during the day, right?”
  • Avoid a judgmental tone in your paraphrases.

Paraphrasing gives the other person a chance to clarify if you understand them or not. Hence, let them restate their position once again where necessary. After all, paraphrasing emphasizes that the discussion is about the other person, not you.

#2: Mirroring – Reflecting What the Speaker Says

Mirroring refers to reflecting the verbal or non-verbal messages as they are from the other person. Here, you aim at reflecting the emotion behind the information. That way, the speaker knows that you understand how they feel.

Unlike paraphrasing, mirroring encourages the other person to open up some more. For example, when you enter a conflict resolution meeting where none of the parties is willing to listen to the other, begin by mirroring their non-verbal gestures. It could be sitting back with hands folded.

As you mimic their doing, switch to a lively posture. The participants begin to mirror your actions without even knowing it. In no time, both parties are on talking terms and discussing how to resolve the crisis.

Mirroring works best when the other person is sharing about a jittery experience in their lives. When they start hesitating, mirroring helps the other person know that it is okay and they can continue to share.

Practice verbal and nonverbal mirroring techniques in communication by:

  • Wearing proper attire for your audience. For example, go casual when talking to a group of students. Switch to a professional outfit when going for a board meeting with chief executives.
  • Sit, stand, or walk side by side with the other person. For example, get down and sit with a patient who is in distress. Or get playful when interacting with kids at a playground.
  • Match the speaker’s pace and volume.

As you use this empathic communication technique, be careful not to overuse it. Too much mirroring can interfere with the speaker’s thought process.  

#3: Supportive Body language

Finally, use eye contact and nodding to indicate your full attention to the speaker. These two techniques work best when you are standing or seated shoulder-to-shoulder with the speaker. Still, avoid staring at the person, lest it makes them feel uncomfortable. Use supportive body language as follows:

  • Look for an appropriate seat or standing position that keeps you shoulder-to-shoulder with the speaker.
  • Combine eye contact and triple nods to demonstrate your interest in the other person. Your eye contact should neither be too little (looks tentative), or too much (looks creepy). Also let the other person speak three to four times longer.

Conclusion

If you have a hard time connecting with people in a meaningful way, try using empathic communication. Communicating with empathy goes beyond that introductory phase in a relationship. It makes us attuned to the content, intention, feeling, and emotion behind the delivery of the message. Paraphrasing, mirroring, and using supportive body language are conscious empathic communication techniques to validate the person’s feelings and listen in a non-judgmental way.

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Awareness

What Is Ensoulment? Blossoming into Alignment with the Universe

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Who are you? Well, many aspects give us identity, including the body, mind, and our affiliations. Moreover, the soul is the innermost essence of our true identity. Since birth, the soul evolves, going through different phases to blossom and arrive at a level of peace and comfort. Yet, trauma or certain events can make us feel out of touch with our soul, going through the motions of life only to survive. Are you having trouble finding your identity? If so, you can connect back to your soul through ensoulment. So, what is ensoulment in the first place? This is a detailed guide.

What is Ensoulment?

Ensoulment refers to the moment at which a human gains a soul. This process can happen in two ways: –

#1: At Conception

Many religious scholars believe that the soul is pre-existing and enters the body at the time of fertilization. Like Aristotle’s time, scholars thought this process took place 40 days after conception for boys and 90 days for girls.

However, this association of ensoulment with the growth of the human embryo still fuels debate supporting or criminalizing abortions globally. And, the idea of a pre-existing soul forms the foundation of beliefs in reincarnation and the afterlife.

#2: When Undergoing a Spiritual Journey

Second, the ensoulment process can happen when you undergo a spiritual awakening, Kundalini awakening, or when in a Dark Night of the Soul. In these circumstances, ensoulment relates to the process of embracing, living, and expressing your authentic self, the soul.

·  Ensoulment during a Spiritual Awakening Process

A spiritual awakening journey is a state of enlightenment where your soul “wakes up” to life, transforming into higher consciousness. The journey begins with a sense of emptiness and confusion, usually triggered by traumatic or life-changing events. This initiation stage leads to a quest for answers about your beliefs or thoughts about life.

Next, you develop an urge to find the answers within you, to discover your life purpose. This third stage can be painful, as you acknowledge your shadow past and deal with it. Still, if you are patient, the fourth stage opens up the joyful and hopeful new you.

Finally, you attain spiritual alignment, the ultimate goal in this journey.

·      Ensoulment during a Kundalini Awakening & the Dark Night of the Soul

Kundalini awakening is an energetic awakening emanating from the spine and flowing through the seven chakras leading to instant spiritual enlightenment. Kundalini, the energy that remains dormant at the base of the spine, can awaken through such methods as yoga, meditation, and mantras.

Once awake, our senses become sharper, our perception of life changes, and we begin to identify our soul paths.

·      Ensoulment during the Dark Night of the Soul

Now, the Dark Night of the Soul is one of the signs of a Kundalini awakening. Here, you feel disconnected from your surrounding as you look inward to discover your soul purpose. For example, you feel lost and stuck and want a deeper meaning in life.

Physical symptoms of this experience include a change of appetite, increased thirst, distorted sleep patterns, and a change in your sex drive. Since the Dark Night of the Soul is a transitional period after shedding our old identity and before the new and true identity emerges, this process leads to ensoulment.

The Phases of Ensoulment

ensoulment image

In this guide, we explore what is ensoulment when undergoing a spiritual journey. By understanding the process, we get to know our identity and soul purpose. If you are currently going through any spiritual journey, you could be in any of the following phases of ensoulment: –

The Stages of Ensoulment

#1: Waking Up

A spiritual awakening process triggers the soul to wake up. Here, you may experience an overwhelming feeling of disconnection or detachment with people or things you once enjoyed. There is confusion as you begin to question your true identity, beliefs, and thought processes.  Likewise, some individuals start to re-evaluate their current beliefs.

#2: Descending into a State of Soullessness/The Dark Night

The symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul characterize the second stage of ensoulment. It makes us notice and yearn to deal with the shadow aspects of our lives. Only when you integrate these shadow aspects into your life can you then blossom into your true developed soul. Hence, this second stage is the most painful phase of ensoulment.

#3: Spiritual Alchemy

Do you sometimes feel you are living in your past but also connected to your future self? That is a sign you are in the alchemic stage of ensoulment. Here, you feel a sense of transformation, inner freedom, and change that makes you aware of your soul.

Spiritual alchemy happens in seven distinct stages as follows: –

  1. Calcination – a breakdown of distractive personality traits, including our ego, stubbornness, and arrogance. It sets the foundation to discovering our identity underneath.
  2. Dissolution – a feeling of the fading false self.
  3. Separation – sharpening of our thoughts and emotions.
  4. Conjunction – combining of the remaining authentic elements in you.
  5. Fermentation – start of a rebirth.
  6. Distillation – further purification.
  7. Coagulation – spirit manifesting in material form
#4: Blossoming Into Ensoulment

After the spiritual alchemy, you break away from the mind, allowing your soul to connect to the spirit. At this point, your soul is now manifest in material form, allowing you to embrace your true identity.

Note that the four phases of ensoulment develop gradually at different times in our lives. For example, you may be in the Dark Night of the Soul, feeling soullessness as a mother but fully ensouled as a pianist or a teacher. 

More so, in many mystical traditions, age matters. Hence, even though ensoulment can begin in childhood, many people become aware of the process only when they are in their 30s or 40s. At times, they confuse it with menopause or a form of spiritual crisis.

Conclusion

Now that you understand what is ensoulment, I must mention that it is a lifelong journey in the physical whereby our souls evolve, arriving at a level of comfort and peace. At this point, we become aware of our true identity and soul purpose. Then, we begin to live a purposeful life that is in alignment with the universe.

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