I changed my handwriting in my mid-30s. I was sitting in a graduate class, watching my professor write on the board, when I realized I really liked the way he wrote his “a”s. His looked like the ones you see on this screen, not like my little circles with lines on the bottom. I liked my professor’s “a”s so much that I began modeling them in my own notes. Pretty soon, my “a”s looked just like his, and they still do today.
I thought about how I changed my writing near midlife when I was listening to Anne Bogel’s new book, Don’t Overthink It. Anne is the blogger behind the Modern Mrs. Darcy book and lifestyle blog. Anne and I have extremely different taste in books, but I’ve always loved her writing and the style of her blog. I listened to Anne’s new book, then I bought a copy to reread because I wanted to delve into the concepts again.
I don’t know if I’m an overthinker. My best friend just laughed when she read that line because she bought me a T-shirt a couple of years ago that read: “Hold On! Let Me Overthink This.” I sent it to her because I thought the phrase fit her. She clearly thought it suited me more.
Either way, an important thing I took away from Bogel’s book wasn’t necessarily about overthinking. It is the idea that we can change the way we think. It doesn’t matter how old we are or how set in our ways we think we are, we can discover a better way, then we can implement it.
How do we change the way we think? Here’s advice adapted from Bogel’s book.
1. Recognize you can change
Change isn’t possible if you don’t think it is. The first step in changing the way you think is to recognize that it’s possible.
If I can change something as fundamentally routine as the way I write when I’m in my mid-30s, I certainly can change something as intangible as the way I think.
2. Explore the how
Once you know you can change your mindset, you begin to explore how, which changes everything, Bogel wrote.
Once you identify which way of thinking you want to change, then realize you can change it, it’s time to determine how.
For overthinking, Bogel recommends stopping the pattern by just taking one small step in the right direction. I can see this working with a lot of negative thought patterns.
3. Change the way you see yourself
The way we see ourselves has enormous implications for how we live our lives, Bogel wrote.
I’m the kind of person that ____________________.”
How you fill in the blank is powerful, Bogel wrote. Shifting how you fill in the blank will change the way you think and how you act, she wrote.
4. Realize you aren’t perfect
You can change the way you think, but the process won’t be simple or foolproof. There may be times when you catch yourself returning to your old way of thinking. Don’t beat yourself up. Just adjust and move on.
You can stop overthinking, be more positive or think more highly of yourself and your abilities. Whatever thought process you want to change, you can. It doesn’t matter how old we are or how set in our ways we think we are, we can discover a better way, then we can implement it. Simply understanding this is pretty freeing.