MSS #051: Navigating the Labyrinth of Overthinking - A Practical Guide

Your weekly Saturday Solace newsletter

MSS #051: Navigating the Labyrinth of Overthinking - A Practical Guide

30 Dec 23

MSS #051: Navigating the Labyrinth of Overthinking - A Practical Guide

30 Dec, 2023

Read time: 3.5 minutes

In a hurry? Jump to the core: The Power of Awareness and Labelling - reduced read time 2.2 minutes.

This week, I’m addressing the challenge of overthinking. When our minds endlessly mull over details, it can feel like being trapped in a mental labyrinth.

But there are exits, and here's how to find them.

 Understanding Overthinking

Overthinking can immobilise us, turning our thoughts into a loop of endless analysis, like a whirlpool of endless swirls.

Whether it's decisions at work, personal dilemmas, or everyday choices, the cycle can be exhausting.

Let’s get into recognising when this happens and how to find the exit sign.


Recognising the Trap

Overthinking is when we get caught in a loop of thoughts, analysing and reanalysing the same ideas or worries. It’s like a hamster wheel for your brain – constant motion but getting nowhere.

This can happen in any aspect of life, whether it's mulling over a conversation, a decision at work, or even everyday choices. It often stems from a desire for perfection or fear of making the wrong decision.

Here are five of the most common symptoms, see if there is a fit that feels familiar or resonates with you.

Most common symptoms

1. Analysis Paralysis: Endlessly weighing options without reaching a decision.

2. Ruminating on the Past: Dwelling on past events and what could have been done differently.

3. Worrying About the Future: Constantly anticipating problems that may never occur.

4. Perfectionism: Over analysing to ensure everything is flawless, often unnecessarily.

5. Fear of Judgment: Overthinking how others may perceive your actions or words.


Understanding the cause is not critical to moving forwards, what does help is noticing and being aware when you enter that mode of thinking. Most of what we do is habitual.

The nature of habits is they happen silently without emotion, meaning we can be oblivious to the fact that it is happening.

Habits reside in the unconscious part of the brain. This part is quite happy just getting on with habits, not able to question where the habit came from. This part of the brain is like a loyal assistant (that just happens to be an incredible supercomputer) that just executes what it thinks you want.

Once you gain awareness, the rational, pragmatic part of the brain is engaged and can assist you. The rational part of the brain questions and challenges what we do, it doesn’t just accept without question, as the habit part of the brain does.

So we need to engage the rational part of the brain when over thinking habits kick in.

Where habits and rational thinking take place

Breaking Free from the Loop: The Power of Awareness and Labelling

We've all been there – trapped in the whirlpool of our thoughts, circling endlessly without finding a way out. This 'endless loop mode' can be exhausting and counterproductive. But the first step to breaking free is awareness.

The Awakening Moment

Awareness is like a light in a dark room; it illuminates what's hidden. Recognising that you're in 'endless loop mode' is crucial. It’s like catching yourself before you tumble down the rabbit hole of overthinking.

Label to Liberate

Once you're aware, the next powerful step is to label the experience. Labelling acts as a mental stop sign, engaging the rational part of your brain. This switch is critical; it's the moment you take control back from the automatic, looping thoughts.

Want some example label words you can use,







Here are some example label phrases you might use:

"Looping Again"

"Overthink Alert"

"Thought Spiral"

"Mind Maze"

Choose a label that resonates with you, something that immediately reminds you that you're just going in circles.

It goes something like this in the language in your mind.


“Ah, hang on this seems familiar endless thinking.

I think we are in overthink mind mode.

OK, I am officially calling it, its “Mind Maze”.


Then just let that engage, rational thinking by saying the label word, seeing the label word and feeling the associated emotion of noticing you are in that mode.


Engage Rationality

When you label your state, you awaken the logical part of your brain. This transition is your gateway to using one of the five strategies we are about to talk about. Whether it's setting a time limit for a decision, focusing on action, practicing mindfulness, embracing 'good enough', or seeking external perspectives – you're now in the driver's seat.

Labelling isn’t just about recognising a pattern; it's about initiating a shift in your thought process. It's the first decisive step towards reclaiming your mental space and redirecting your energy more productively.

Remember, the loop can be alluring, but awareness and labelling are the keys to unlocking its grip.

Now we can move into some strategies to stop the spinning.


Breaking Free: 5 Strategies with Actionable Steps

Here are some strategies for breaking free from this past habit of endless loops.

1. Set Time Limits for Decision-Making

  - Use a Timer: Set a timer for decision-making (e.g., 30 minutes for minor decisions).

  - Write a Pro-Con List: Quickly jot down pros and cons, then make a decision before your time is up.

  - Decision by Deadline: Set a hard deadline for bigger decisions and stick to it.


2. Focus on Action, Not Just Thought

  - Small Steps: Break down tasks into smaller steps and start with the easiest one.

  - Action Scheduling: Allocate specific times in your day for action, not deliberation.

 - Accountability Partner: Share your action plans with someone who can hold you accountable.


3. Practice Mindfulness

 - Daily Meditation: Dedicate 10 minutes each day to mindfulness meditation. Start with just a minute and work up to 10 minutes. If meditation seems a bit full on for you, try simply day dreaming.

 - Mindful Moments: Throughout the day, take short breaks to focus on your breath and present moment.

  - Mindfulness Reminders: Set reminders to practice mindfulness at different times during the day.


4. Embrace 'Good Enough'

 - Define 'Good Enough': Set clear criteria for what 'good enough' looks like for different tasks. A lady I spoke to about procrastination has a great phrase to remind them what good enough means. “Functional not embarrassing” is the phrase she uses to kick her mind out of keep polishing a piece of work mode.

  - Reflect on Past Successes: Remind yourself of past instances where 'good enough' led to success.

 - Permission to Move On: Give yourself permission to move on once the 'good enough' criteria are met.


5. Seek External Perspectives

  - Trusted Confidant: Discuss your thoughts with a trusted friend or colleague.

  - Professional Guidance: Consider speaking with a coach or therapist for an external perspective.

 - Feedback Loops: Create a feedback system at work or home to get quick, constructive perspectives.



Overthinking is a common mental challenge, but with the right strategies and actionable steps, we can navigate out of this mental maze to a clearer and more decisive mindset.

Final Thought: "Overthinking is the art of creating problems that weren't even there. Embrace simplicity and action." - Matt Sturgess



First become consciously aware when you are in overthink mode. Enhance this by giving it a label – this engages your rational mind to use one of the next five strategies.

Break free from the loop of overthinking with these actionable strategies:

1. Set Time Limits for Decision-Making

2. Focus on Action, Not Just Thought

3. Practice Mindfulness

4. Embrace 'Good Enough'

5. Seek External Perspectives

See you next week. If you haven't already, follow me on LinkedIn and hit the bell for daily posts on tips, insights and techniques.

Want more? 

When you're ready, 3 ways I can help you:

1. Build self confidence and resilience fast - £48 training course

Golden Resilience Habit

2. Work with me 121 - start with a FREE 15 minutes exploration session.

Lets have an open chat and explore how I can help you and what is troubling you.

If we both think we can work together and I have what you need we can go from there.

3. Workshops and Speaking - I run workshops and speak. Book me to help your team increase their productivity.

Nuclear Powered Resilience – learn one golden habit that gives incredible inner strength, comfort and support, that keeps growing by instilling Unconditional Love in your mind.

7 guiding principles to better thinking – what trips up our thinking and how to create different habitual responses.

What they should have taught you at school – awareness of how we think and how to get better results.

Vitamin C for the mind – how to feel and have more control in life, with simple techniques built into a habit.

Happy habits – simple habits to make you feel happier everyday.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, really hope this helped. Contact me if you think I can help you further at [email protected].

Happy thinking.