How I Stopped Overthinking

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My mind has never been a quiet place. Some days are better than others, as with most things, but even as a child my brain would never, ever shut off.

It’s painful, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the past year or two. Would you like to know how? Well, I assume so since you’ve read the first sixty four words of this article.

The Five Whys: We’re talking root cause analysis

This sounds lame but stay with me. Focus. I promise, this will help dull the noise.

The Five Whys is a process that helps you determine the real cause or problem behind a given situation. Let’s take the example of something anxiety inducing for me: publishing my own book. Ahem.

Problem: I’m scared to finish and publish my book.

Why?

I don’t want people to give me harsh critiques.

Why?

Because I’m proud of myself and I want to leave it at that. Isn’t that enough?

Why?

Well…because I poured my heart and soul into this book, and I’ll be devastated if people hate it.

Why?

Uhh, because I really care what people think of my writing ability.

Why?

Geez. I guess…I don’t handle critical feedback very well.

Bingo.

So you see, by digging deeper and deeper into the why behind something causing me a lot of anxiety, I figured out the true root cause. Now that I know the root cause, I can work on addressing it.

This applies to general situations too, not just things that are causing you stress. My client didn’t show up for their meeting with me. Why? I’m nervous to fly in a plane. Why? I ran through a red light. Why? 

You get it.

Learning how to reflect on my feelings and problems with this framework has allowed me the space to truly understand my emotions and what’s really causing me to be so damn anxious.

I hope this works for you, my friend. I don’t want your brain to be as noisy as mine.

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Head Writer and Editor for GradSimple. She also translates all of Ricky's incoherent raccoon ramblings into readable content (newsletter subscribers know what's up).

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