The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Out of my head

Steps I’m taking to escape how I constantly overthink
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Riya Murthy
The tendency to constantly doubt everything I do is one that has always followed me around.

I can’t remember the last time I did something without overthinking it. Thinking “why would I do this” and “what could happen” and “what did they think” is, to me, as much a part of completing a task as the actual task is. 

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the things I overthink — even though I may be mortified to speak and facilitate a discussion in my literature class, I still enjoy the process and am happy to take up the responsibility. There’s just always a point where the joy that comes from doing something I appreciate turns into analyzing what people must’ve thought of me, how I could have done better. It’s always was I too loud here? or that was definitely too embarrassing and never being able to accept that that was good enough. Somehow literature, a subject I thoroughly enjoy, is transformed into something I can’t bear to do purely due to overanalyzing the micro-interactions that occur during it — it’s maddening, and trying to stop it only causes my brain to fire up more. 

There came a point when I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I did something outside of my own head. When had I last sent an email about anything without checking with at least three people — and a trusty AI software — before sending it? It isn’t just that this near-paranoia wastes time. If all I’m losing is ten minutes of my life, I could accept it. It’s that my inability to trust my own capabilities hinders everything I want to achieve.

After what was probably the hundredth let me just check one more time and I wonder what they thought, I decided enough was enough. I’ve tried nearly everything under the sun to try and stop my case of overthinking (my problem is not a lack of self-awareness — I don’t know whether being unable to fix my issue despite that is any better) only for every attempt to fall flat. No one cares what you’re doing is intellectually the truth but rings in my brain like a lie, and just block everything out is like trying to imagine an audience in their underwear. I just can’t do it.

No one cares what you’re doing is intellectually the truth but rings in my brain like a lie, and just block everything out is like trying to imagine an audience in their underwear. I just can’t do it.

Since these fix-all solutions have never truly yielded any effect to reduce this spiral, I’ve come to accept that it may be impossible. Perhaps I won’t ever be able to turn my thoughts off and enjoy doing something purely because I like it, but simply sitting by and allowing overthinking to take over my life — preventing me from doing anything that has the potential to cause me to constantly doubt myself — wouldn’t be helpful either.

Attempting to get rid of the problem altogether by repeated reasoning hasn’t worked, and trying to live with the problem through avoidance has failed to make my overthinking easier to manage. Through this lack of success, I came to the conclusion that the only option I had left was to attempt to reduce the effect my constant overthinking had on my ability to live my life.  Although I couldn’t ever get rid of my penchant for overthinking, perhaps I could mitigate it so that I could have the ability to have fun despite it. 

My overthinking couldn’t end through sheer willpower and consciously deciding to stop, but my previous band-aid solution of just accepting the problem and avoiding doing the things that trigger my overthinking would only serve to delay having to confront my problem rather than doing anything to solve it. However, completing a task despite my brain urging me otherwise could be the first step to escaping the unending swamp of constant thoughts that I’m constantly struggling to wade through. It’s difficult — it’s always difficult to go against what your brain tells you to do — and I may not be directly eliminating my overthinking, but doing things despite it allows me to reduce its effects. 

Rather than looking at the process of attempting to complete these tasks as painful or torturous, telling myself that working to complete these responsibilities would only serve to help me later is a change in mindset that allows a future where this is true, and doing my duties can be more enjoyable than not. 

There’s a lot of small steps I can take to someday escape the constraints of my overthinking. (Riya Murthy)

Through repeated exposure to the results of the things I’m afraid of doing and witnessing firsthand how the consequences I fear never actually happen, I can reason that there’s little to be worried  about in the first place, diluting my fears through experience. 

Today, it’s sending an email without checking it five ways to Sunday. Tomorrow, maybe it’s volunteering in class on a question I know but would have never answered otherwise. It’s slow going, but give me enough time and maybe one day I’ll even be able to lead a discussion and be able to accept that yes, that went pretty well. 

About the Contributor
Riya Murthy, Staff Writer
Riya is currently a junior and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing poetry.
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