When we focus too much on specific things, or over-analyse certain things.
It can be scary thinking about our mind distorting thoughts and feelings. It can be equally discomforting to realise that certain thought patterns we commonly have are cognitive distortions. Take for instance when we focus too much on specific things, or over-analyse certain things. It could be something as simple as ‘She spoke to me that way because she doesn’t like me’ or something more complex like ‘He always picks on me because he thinks I’m useless’.
This habit can also permeate into religious aspects, such as when we focus too much on fearing Allah (SWT) rather than appreciating His mercy. For example, when we face a hardship or difficulty, we immediately think, ‘He is punishing me for my shortcomings’. Or when we experience something painful or bad in life, we can give energy to the thought, ‘Something bad always happens to me’. With time we realise that by focusing too much on certain things, we can actually lose focus of the important things, the bigger picture or how to help oneself.
The fact is that facing difficulty and coping with pain aren’t easy processes. However, by altering the way we perceive them and changing how we focus on things or particular thoughts, we can pump in more realism and positivity.
It’s actually way easier to stop over-thinking than we think:
- Stop focusing on yourself.
Instead of wondering what people think of you, start thinking about what you think of you. You are the best judge of you, so use those focusing skills for something beneficial and therapeutic, like how to better yourself according to your own standards.
All those sayings about how life is too short to focus on the bad or the negative are actually right. There is so much beauty and knowledge in the world, even in spite of the bad, and it is our choice what we decide to focus on. Instead of focusing on things outside or beyond our control, we can practice focusing on ourselves.
“And Allah (SWT) is the best of planners.”
- Throw the unnecessary why’s in the trash.
Not every sentence needs to have a because, or a reason. Some things just are – kind of like this sentence. Racking your brain for a reason all the time can become a purposeless habit, but if you really need to add a reason, then make sure it’s a pretty good and accurate one. Suppositions and assumptions do NOT count as good reasons.
- Cancel the superlatives.
Words like never and always shouldn’t be in your dictionary. Let’s face it: infinity is way too long a time to bank on, and about a billion things can change between then and now. So, these kind of extreme words can live in the trash with the why’s.
- Acknowledge your choice.
You know you have a choice for everything. Free will is our gift, and so we should really try to use this gift to the best of our ability. We can start by living less out of habit and more out of good intention, self-improvement and well-thought out purpose.
- Don’t be afraid to change.
Fear can rule our life, if we let it consume us; But the one thing we should not be scared of is the natural process of change. Let’s try it here: Try changing these thoughts to have a different outlook that is more realistic, and positive.
‘She spoke to me that way because she doesn’t like me.’
‘She spoke to me that way perhaps because she is having a bad day’.
‘He always picks on me because he thinks I’m useless.’
‘He picks on me sometimes perhaps because he believes I am capable of pushing myself to achieve better’.
‘He is punishing me for my shortcomings.’
‘He is teaching me something I wouldn’t have learned otherwise’ or ‘He is helping me overcome my weakness/shortcoming’ or ‘He is trying to make me see things in a different way’.
‘Something bad always happens to me.’
‘Alhamdulillah (All Praise is to Allah (SWT)) I am blessed, this is just a bump in the road and it, too, will pass’ Or ‘Things are tough but there is good with the bad, and He knows best’.
Changing and challenging our cognitive processes can be a tiring and cumbersome endeavour, but remember that rewards are in store for those who persevere and have a good intention. If there’s something we know for sure, it’s that life is filled with bumps and potholes, but our perception can make all the difference.
Are there any thoughts you have noticed that you have been focusing on too much?