First of all, you’re not alone! Over-analyzing is a classic response to any situation that makes us feel uncertain. It often comes into play when we are striving to take control. And the problem with that is that it can cause terrible anxiety. Over-analyzing can suck the enjoyment out of even the most pleasurable of situations.
Imagine, for example, your boss praises your latest project. Immediately your overly analytical mind can jump to an infinite number of interpretations: Does this mean he/she likes me now? He/she’s never praised me before - does he/she think the rest of my work is worthless? Is he/she considering me for a promotion? Or is he/she going to appoint someone else and this is his/her way of softening the blow? Perhaps he/she doesn’t believe it’s my work. And so on, until you end up wishing he/she’d never said anything at all.
So how do you stop? Yoga in itself is known for its ability to soothe and relax the body and mind. But on a more fundamental level, there are two yogic principles that can help to restore an overly analytical mind to peace and happiness:
First and foremost, mindfulness. Becoming aware of your racing mind lets you notice the thought patterns and take a step back. You learn to observe the avalanche of thoughts, without becoming swept up in their chaotic narrative. Mindfulness is also about being present in the here and now. Over-analyzing tends to be retrospective, ruminating over something that’s happened, or future-focused, dreaming up possible scenarios. By coming firmly back to the present and back to your breath, you can calm the storm of over-analysis. (Learn more about staying present in 6 Techniques to Staying Present.)
Second is the principle of surrender. Surrender does not mean giving up, but rather letting be. Because over-analysis tends to be driven by a desire to control factors which are, more often than not, beyond our individual control, gentle acceptance of the present is a far wiser strategy. Surrendering to the moment, and allowing it to be is one of the most powerful tools to cultivate calm, contentment and happiness. (Learn more about surrender in Yin Yoga: There's Power in Surrender.)Both of these strategies take practice. They require mental focus, discipline and training. And, of course, the best training available is yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation can give you the tools to stop over-analyzing. What’s more, by calming your over-anxious mind, you can actually enjoy what’s going on right now, and appreciate it for what it is.