The Problems Associated With Overthinking and What You Can Do About Them

If you have a hard time turning off your mind or thinking too much about something that you shouldn’t really be thinking about, then you may be a victim of overthinking.

Overthinking can cause you to be paranoid, because you start questioning someone’s motive or your own. It can cause you to rehearse past events and try to find meaning in them where none exists. It can cause you to become indecisive sometimes known as analysis paralysis.

Regardless, over thinking is not a good thing especially for your mental well being. Overthinking can make you feel depressed, paranoid and anxious.

Here are some tips to help you overcome overthinking:

1. Recognizing when you are overthinking. If you find yourself thinking way too much, then you may already be overthinking. Overthinking also tends to occur more during night time when we let more of our mind wander.

2. When you recognize that you are overthinking, you can use healthy distractions. For instance, read a book, watch tv, talk to a friend, listen to music or exercise.

3. If you still find yourself thinking about the problem, then you may need to directly confront the issue. Sometimes the issue is so severe to us that no distractions can help and the only way for us to stop thinking about it is to find peace with it.

4. If you don’t want to directly confront the problem because of whatever reasons, you can also write the problem out in a journal or talk to a confidant about it. Sometimes all you need is a place to keep your thoughts somewhere so that it doesn’t stay on your mind.

5. If nothing helps, you can always seek a professional such a counselor. You can talk to them about your problems and they can keep it a secret while at the same time help you think through your problems.

Psychology Facts (work in progress)

The benefits of this post:

1. You can refer to it if you’re looking for a research topic idea or studies to reference

2. The links are to actual scientific studies if I can find them. In the future, I will be thoroughly reading these studies and adding my remarks on them. I might even make videos on YouTube going over them. But prior to that, I want to review my research methods and write an entry on it here so people can also benefit.

3. My followers are always asking for sources or actual studies, so this is the other side to it.

People who are infatuated with you are more likely to laugh at the things you say even when the things you say are not funny.   An Evolutionary Perspective on Humor: Sexual Selection or Interest Indication

Both men and women regard humor as a top desirable quality in a potential partner because ability to make a person laugh is a sign of intelligence and good gene. Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males

Making music promotes problem solving, prosocial behavior and learning in children. Making Music Improves Behavior  

We experience a loss more greatly than a gain of equal value.

Physical attraction is subjective and really in the eye of the beholder. The better your personality, the more attractive you appear to others. This is true for the reverse as well.  1) More Than Just Skin Deep?Personality Information Influences Men’s Ratings of the Attractiveness of Women’sBody Sizes

People with dark personalities tend to create a physically attractive veneer.

You’re more creative when coming up with ideas for others than for yourself.

People who are depressed may be more creative. THE LINK BETWEEN DEPRESSION AND CREATIVITY, AND HOW IT CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU

Children who have tendency to sleep late grow up to have higher IQ Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent Than Morning Larks

notes: the study suggests that it was a  longitudinal design. need the actual studies

People who sleep late have higher IQ Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent Than Morning Larks

Introverts spend about the same amount of time with other people as extraverts and enjoy it just as much despite beliefs. : RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EXTRAVERSION AND HAPPINESS

Extraverts are under stimulated and therefore seek out social situations whereas introverts are inherently overstimulated and needs to get away from other people.  The personality theories of H. J. Eysenck and J. A. Gray:a comparative review

We make better decisions when we sleep on it.

The unconscious mind is better at making decisions for complicated problems and the conscious mind is better for simple problems.

Reading fictions improves social skills because it puts you in various social situations in the perspectives of the characters. Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind

Viewing pictures of cute kittens or puppies improves task performance that require careful attention. The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus

Listening to music activates the whole brain. Listening to music lights up the whole brain

Fake smiling actually makes you happier. Facial Feedback Hypotheses: Evidence, Implications, and Directions I

Writing down test worries improve performance 

Writing Out Your Worries <- possible flaw: should have inclued a group asked to write about thoughts/strategies about the test . perhaps the group who were asked to write about their worries got the result because they were given a chance to dedicate time to thinking about the test (it mentally prepared them), whereas the group that were asked to think about something else (did not have this advantage). it may not necessarily have been about writing down the worries that contributed to the results but the fact that this group got a chance to strategically plan for the test.. afterall; mindset and preparation is important when it comes to performance. <- though i need to examine the original study to see if such group was included.

6 Ways To Decipher Your Dream(s)

In my Tumblr, many of you have asked me how to read your dreams or what your dream means, but based on what I learned from psychology, the responses are: 1) Dreams are just random firing of neurons; in other words meaningless content. Whereas on the other side, 2) As proposed by the Sigmund Freud (many of you should know who he is) argues that dreams are representations of the unconscious mind. Personally I think both are true. There are times where I’ve felt that my dreams were not important whereas other times I felt they were telling me something important. Therefore, it’s up to you to determine when your dreams are trying to tell you something or not, and here are 6 ways to help you figure that out.

1. After you dream, try to recall the main details of your dream. The things that stood out and the emotions that you felt. You should do this immediately after you wake up, because you’re more likely to remember the dream and the feelings that were attached. Also, when you first wake up, you’re more likely to gain insights and awareness about  your dreams.

2. Studies suggest that sleep refreshes our thinking and makes them clear. When we first wake up, we’re most likely to have an insight because sleep sorts out information that we experience during the day and solves problems we couldn’t solve. Hence, when you wake up, this is also the best time to try to understand your dreams as your thinking is most clear.

3. The main things to note in your dreams are your emotions and salient events triggering those emotions. What emotions did you feel? Fear, desire, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, surprise? What were you dreaming about? How or why might those dream cause you to feel those emotions? What life problems outside the dreams are you currently experiencing? How might your dreams relate to those experiences? Figuring out the answers to these questions can help you make sense of your dreams.

4. If it helps, refer to one of those dream and symbols interpreters guide. For example, dreammoods is a really good one. Dreammoods tells you about the symbolism of each dream events. For example, it tells you what it means to dream about a snake, a lightbulb, a hallway, being chased etc? It has over like 1000 different dream symbols. Even though the meaning of a dream is unique to yourself and your own life experiences, these guide can help you figure out their meaning if you really don’t have the insight you need.

5. Pay attention to common themes and reoccurring types of dreams. These are the dreams where you keep dreaming about the same things or have the same emotion. What do you keep dreaming about? What do you keep seeing? What do you keep feeling from these dream?  What do you want most or fear most from life? These reoccurring themes or dreams could tell you about something that keeps bothering you.

6. Note that even though reoccurring dreams or themes could be trying to tell you something important, a lot of dreams are also meaningless. Dreams are just the random firing of neurons from things you perceive in everyday life and your brain making random images out of them. Hence, do not put too much weight into trying to understand your dreams even though they can be fun to do.

The Psychology Behind “Following Heart vs Brain” Explained

The “Dual-Process” Model of Thinking, Self-reflection and Decision Making

In cognitive psychology, the “Dual Process” model reveals that we have two ‘parallel’ modes of thinking or reasoning. It explains how we have this “Follow Your Heart vs Follow Your Brain” phenomenon.

The idea is the heart and the brain represent these two modes of thinking. The thinking involves how we reason, think and make decisions about things. ‘Following the brain’ represents logic, consciously thought out responses.

The brain represents the “conscious or explicit” system associated with normal, conscious awareness for the reasons and decisions behind our behaviors. An example would be listing on paper or in your head the reasons why you like someone. 

On the contrary, the heart represents the “unconscious or implicit system.” This system can also make decisions and affect behaviors, but we are typically unaware of the process or reasoning. We only “know” the decision or behavior once it is made or happens. So for example, this is sort of like when you are infatuated with someone. You may or may not know why you are infatuated, but you are. And it is often after you are with this person that you begin to realize these feelings you’ve been having. 

Furthermore if you are ever lost about how you feel, and you have to decide between following your brain or your heart, studies suggests that you follow your heart because not thinking for ‘complex’ things such as feelings is more accurate of how you truly feel. In fact, if you try to use your brain and logically reason things out, you may end up distorting yourself.

Does it really take 21 days to make a habit?

tag: Psychology question of the day

Nail biting as a  habit

I was reading here that it takes about 21 days or 3 weeks to make a habit. The key point of this post was that the 21 days to make a habit idea was not scientifically supported (no controlled experiments were done nor was the conclusion published in a actual research paper).

Rather, the idea that it takes 21 days to make a habit was based on people’s personal experiences. I haven’t gotten a chance to read which examples this 21 days came from, but when it comes to using personal experiences to arrive at some conclusion, the result is often not reliable.

The 21 days may be true for the cases use in the example and may apply to a few people, but to the general population, 21 days might not be an accurate number. It could take shorter or longer than 21 days for different population. Furthermore, depending on which habits are trying to be formed, it could take longer or shorter.

Furthermore, there aren’t really support that by doing the same thing over and over everyday, a habit will form. When it comes to habit, we are talking about things that we will do without thinking much about it or forcing ourselves to put efforts into doing those things. The habits just come unconsciously or effortlessly. However, if we find ourselves forcing or disciplining ourselves to do something, then can we really say that a habit is formed? Your thoughts?

In this topic, I like you guys to share your thoughts and whether you think it’s true or not that 21 days is all it takes for a habit to form. Hope you guys enjoy this topic and that a lot of discussions will be made.

What grabs Attention: The Psychology Behind it!

Attention and What Draws Our Attention?

In a world where the eyes are exposed to numerous information in the environment, the eyes can not help but only selects what they pay attention to at a time.

For instance, a walk in campus, the eyes may notice that there are other students walking around, the breezing of the trees, the brown baby squirrel that has just ran by, or the new sign on the building wall, but the eyes may have ignored the face of a friend in the distance or that there is a puddle of mud in front. This is further not limited to the eyes as well, but to other senses such as hearing. Though the eyes may have not seen the familiar face, the ears hears the friend shouting out loud your name.

In this post, I talk about what attention is, the basic model, distinguish between top down and bottom up attention, and illustrate how knowledge and expectancy affect it.

What is attention?

In cognition, attention is how the brain selects and attends to certain information while ignoring others. Recall that in “Exclusive Procrastination Article”, I’ve talked about how attention affects procrastination. The more attentive one is to the tasks, the less likely one is to procrastinate. They are ideas of equivalence; attention is the ability to choose what one focuses to during a particular time.

What is the basic model?

When there is a process, there is a model. A model explains how something works in most simplify way as possible. The model of attention says that the human is exposed to infinite number of information in the environment and inside the body (i.e. a stomach-ache). And what happens is we select for what we choose to attend to. Hence, selection is an active process. And what we attend to affects thoughts, perception, and maybe behavior.

What is this top-down or bottom-up process?

Top down attention is conscious, willful decisions about what we select for. For example, when we choose to listen to what the professor is saying in lecture or reading the text message from a friend on the phone.

Bottom up attention is automatic or reflexive selection responses outside of conscious control. Recall the Threat Response I’ve talked about in “How Visual Information Triggers Emotion“, bottom up attention works similarly. Bottom up attention works by operating outside of conscious control and facilitates survival.

The bottom-up attention is affected by what grabs our attention even if we try to avoid it. Research shows that “Pain, Flashing or moving objects, or threatening things” are most likely to activate bottom-up. Pain such as stepping on a sharp rock at a beach, moving objects such as a car in the street, and threatening objects such as a snake in the park.

What affects selection?

Knowledge and expectancy. Knowledge such as the unique design of a soccer ball might draw attention to the ball as well as what is going on in a picture of soccer such as “this“. Knowledge affects what we attend to.

Expectancy, being aware of what we want to see, grabs attention when there is a surprise. For instance when looking at the moon over the ocean picture of this post, one notices that there is something unusual about it. That is we don’t expect to see something like that, but because we do, it captivates attention to try and figure out what is going on.

In summary, attention is the cognitive process by which we select information in the external or internal world that we choose to attend to. The basic model holds that selection affects thoughts, perceptions and maybe behaviors. The top-down attention concerns information that are willfully selected for whereas bottom-up is automatic or reflexive for information that concerns survival. Knowledge and expectancy affects attention by controlling what we choose to pay attention to and hence controls selection.

© 2011 by Psychology2010.tumblr.com

 

Exclusive Read on the Causes of Procrastination from Psychology2010.tumblr.com blog

In the following study guild, I talk about procrastination. What it is, the effects, the causes, and the solutions to overcome it. This study guild combines research findings from academic articles and personal knowledge about psychology. No where else can you find an article better explained about procrastination. The purpose is to provide readers with comprehensive explanations about procrastination.

What is procrastination?

To keep it simple, procrastination is the delaying of tasks that require immediate attention. An instance of this for school is when projects or preparation for a test are left until the night before.

What are the effects of procrastination?

The effects of procrastination are maladaptive to productivity and quality performance. Procrastination produces anxiety and poor work performance. Without procrastination, a lot more goals can be accomplished.

Why does procrastination occur?

From the behavioral perspective, procrastination is learnt. It occurs through repeated reinforcement. Tasks produce anxiety. When procrastination occurs, the human leaves the task and focus on one that produces less anxiety. This leads to comfort. This comfort becomes the reinforcement. This behavior repeats until it becomes a habit. Once the habit is fixated and affects many aspects of life, it becomes a behavioral disorder.

What causes procrastination?

The causes of procrastination can be divided into environment or biology. Environment refers to the surrounding conditions while biology the genes. Both environment and biology interacts. This results in complex relationships between environment and gene known as epigenesis.

How does biology affect procrastination?

Biology are rooted in the genes. From early point in birth, chromosomal genes are inherited from our parents who inherit their from theirs. Genes are rooted in our ancestry and have evolved and are passed on to us. Genes affect personality, self-esteem, and physiology. They all of which are factors that leads to procrastination.

Biological Cause 1Personality

Personality defines who we are. This includes our genetic make up. They are the Big Five traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Of these Big Five traits, conscientiousness controls tasks persistency while openness intellect, creativity, and willingness to learn. Because people score differently on these traits, with some being higher or lower on conscientiousness, they are affected by procrastination varyingly.

Conscientiousness controls persistency. Therefore, the more conscientious an individual is the more likely one continues to work on a hard task.

Openness controls intellect, creativity and willingness to learn. Therefore, the more opened an individual is, the more likely one is to want feedback on how to improve. Open people are more likely to see flaws in their personality and actions and learn from them.

Hence, scoring high on conscientiousness or openness is likely to produce a person who procrastinates less.

Biological Cause 2– Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the perception of one self when compared to the ideal self. One feels more accepting if his current self matches his ideal self. If ideal self is too far away from the current self, the individual experiences low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem deprives confidence. This confidence then affects task performance, because it affects how one feel towards one’s own work skills and ability to change. Thus, someone high in self-esteem is more likely to feel positive towards self, have more confidence, and think that one can excel. Thinking so one will.

Biological Cause 3 – Physiology and the Brain

Procrastination is linked to attentiveness, level of impulsivity, and planning. All of which are linked to the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Individuals damaged here will procrastinate.

Hence, let’s take a look at each one and how each affects procrastination.

a) Attention -is ability to concentrate on a task while inhabiting distracting stimuli. An example of excellent attention is studying at a public place and blocking out the noises nearby. Hence, the more attentive an individual is, the less likely his or her mind wanders.

b) Impulsiveness – is ability to delay gratification. An example that tests this is when a friend tells you to go somewhere, but you can say no. In addition, do you guys see how impulsiveness ties in with Freud’s work and the ID ? The ID operates on the pleasure principle and wants immediate pleasure. Therefore, someone high on impulsivity is more likely to procrastinate, because he or she cannot wait.

c) Planning – is ability to estimate how long a task will take and schedule times appropriately to accomplish it. It is surprising that planning is a trait you are born with, but never the less, you can always work on it. For example, learning how to break tasks down so that they become manageable.

In conclusion, the sources of procrastination are rooted in biology. Personality traits such as conscientiousness and openness affect how hard we try and want to learn. Self-esteem affects how confident we feel about improving. While the prefrontal cortex affects ability to attend, focus, and plan. All in which are control by genes.

Procrastination is rooted in biology, but it is also controlled by the environment. Motivation, distractions, and mood are causes by environment. Let’s have a look at each one and examine how each contributes to procrastination.

Environmental Cause Number 1 – Motivation

Motivation gives reasons to do a task. Low motivation is a source of procrastination. This is often true when deciding whether a task is worth time and effort. Hence beliefs affect motivation, and by changing beliefs, a task can motivate us more or less. To illustrate the power of beliefs, here’s a following passage from Celestine Chua in her how to overcome procrastination blog page. In it, she talks about her early school years where her interests lies in web design and is disinterested towards unrelated school work. Hence, she does not get very good grades. However, excellence is a part of her self-concept. It is important to her that she is not a failure. Therefore, she later learns to redefine what excellence means to her. In doing so, she makes sure to do everything excellently. Hence, she starts doing very well in classes and eventually graduates as the top student in university. In addition to her success, she is now the life coach and writer of The Personal Excellence Blog. In summary, re-evaluating the reasons to do a task increases motivation. Greater motivation means less procrastination. Hence, the next time, you start on a task, list a few reasons why you are doing it and what you hope to accomplish.

Environmental Cause Number 2Distractions

Distraction is anything that sways us from focusing on a task. They can be divided into those that require immediate attention and those that don’t. Those that do are called important distractions and those that don’t non-important.  Here’s a linkto a list of each.

Recognizing non-important distractions decrease procrastination, because it makes you aware. Being aware prompts one to take measures.

Here’s a following guild on how to avoid distractions:

1. Recognize what distractions are and what are distracting you. For example, ask yourself if it is msn. If the log in sign that is popping up when somebody logs in is making you talk to them. If so, then log off.

2.     After recognizing what is distracting you, find ways to avoid them. General ways include studying at the library, with a hardworking friend, disabling face book. Library is a quiet place to study so it helps you focus. Secondly, seeing other people study motivates you to study.

3.     Lastly, learn to delay gratification. To say “NO” when a friend requests you to go somewhere.

Environmental Cause Number 3Mood & Energy

Mood fluctuates from hours to hours. It is affected by how much energy we have. The less energy, in most cases the less positive we are. An instance of this is getting home from work and feeling too tired to study. Hence, mood and energy affects procrastination.

In a better mood and energy state, we are more inclined to get tasks done. We become more productive. And when we are not, less so. Hence, it is important to be in the mood to study.

Here are some tips to help you be in the right mood:

1.     Having a proper sleeping pattern. Studies have shown that at least 8 hours of sleep is necessary to get us functioning for the next 16 hours. Furthermore, a regular sleeping pattern maintains normal level of hormone productions that makes us healthy.

2.     Reserving or saving up energy for studying. If you find yourself really tire after coming home from school, make sure you take a short nap to replenish that.

3.     Physical exercise. Studies have shown that jogs reduce stress. This means increased positive feelings.

4.     Study free of distractions. Distractions affect mood. Just simply listening to music can change your mood, because music has emotional implications.

5.     Meditate.

Environmental Cause Number 4 – Task Difficulty and Need for Perfection

Task difficulty refers to how hard it is to complete a task. Need for perfection is the desire to do a great job. They both cause procrastination, because they produce anxiety. This anxiety is the result of cognitive dissonance, what we call when we experience two conflicting perspectives. In procrastination, we want to succeed, but one hand, realize that the task is too hard. Hence, anxiety results.

When anxiety results, we close our mind. We become discouraged, and we start questioning ourselves. “How do I begin? Can I accomplish this? If so, how long would it take?” Hence, we spend time thinking everything through.

However, the process can be made easier. Here are some tips to overcome anxiety. First with respect to task difficulty, seek teachers, friends, or internet for help. Do some research into the topic. Inspire yourself for ideas. Break big tasks down into smaller ones. We often see it as a whole and this makes everything look harder than it should be. Plan when to get your tasks done. This encourages you to make quick decisions. Secondly with need for perfection, lower your expectations. Realize that the task is difficult. That you may not do a very good job at first but will try your best and learn from it.

In summary, procrastination is a learnt habit with maladaptive consequences affecting productivity and quality performance. Procrastination is the result of both biology and environment. Biology such as personality traits like conscientiousness and openness affect how hard we try and want to learn. Self-esteem affects confidence and believing that you can improve. While the prefrontal cortex affects ability to attend, focus, and plan. Personality, self-esteem, attention, impulsivity, and planning decide who is more or less likely to procrastinate. As for environment, motivations, distractions, mood, energy, task difficulty, and perfectionism contributes to procrastination. Motivation provides reasons for persisting. Recognizing non-important distractions encourages attention. Excellent mood and energy fuels inspiration. Reduced task difficulty and need for perfection minimize anxiety. All in which interacts together to affect procrastination, and recognizing what controls you can provide ways to overcome them.

From this study guild, I hope the readers now have comprehensive knowledge about what procrastination is, how it occurs, what causes it, and many ways to overcome it. My ultimate goal through this project is to help everyone lead a more productive, brilliant, and successful life in this and the next few years. In addition, hopefully, many will fulfill their New Year’s Resolution.

Best Wishes,

© 2011 by Psychology2010.tumblr.com