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(Featured contributor, find the complete article at

KRISTEN RUTH SMITH Author, The Overthinker’s Guide to Love: A Story of Real-Life Experiments Turned Practical Wisdom

Overthinking, in any capacity, stands upon two pillars: a projection of the mind out of the present moment into the future or past, and a propensity to assign imagined meaning to plain facts. Neutralize these underlying habits and we neutralize the overthinking.

Let us tackle the issue of imagined meaning first. Perhaps the most familiar example of this is the caricature of the woman who, upon receiving a post-date text, immediately calls up her girlfriend to parse the ‘real’ meaning of the happy face-clapping hands-eggplant emoji string.

Or, perhaps your friend seems quiet at a party, and you find yourself running a football-style-post-show-analysis of the incident wondering whether you unwittingly did something to offend him. In these cases, and the thousands like them, the facts of the encounters remain constant, but the experienced overthinker can extrapolate dozens of possible nuanced meanings from them.

This litany of interpretations, however, exist only in the imagination of the overthinker and are not, in actuality, getting us any closer to truly understanding the encounter.

To combat this habitual thought pattern, we have to catch ourselves doing it.

We have to recognize the worry, the repetition of thought, the mind returning to the issue like a dog to a bone. Only then can we parse fact from fantasy.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to literally speak the facts aloud as though reporting the events Dragnet-style. Just the facts, ma’am. “I walked into the living room. I saw Jon across the room and waved. Jon nodded to me and went back to his conversation.” Period.

If you hear yourself beginning to use emotion words, you’re out of the realm of facts. Try again. Getting the story distilled to what you actually know to be true will help quiet the overthinking imagination.

Focus on the now.

Turn now to the second part of this equation. Whether a particular overthinker’s personality tends toward repetitive rumination over a past encounter or feverish pre-planning for all possible future outcomes, the solution is the same. Return to now. Simple, perhaps, but not always easy.

Again, you first must catch yourself in the momentum of the overthinking. From that realization, you can consciously retrieve your time-traveling mind by taking a simple account of your surroundings, the feel of the chair under you, the breath in your lungs or the beat of your heart. These realities of present moment awareness leave no room for overthinking.

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June 17, 2019

#13 The Overthinker’s Guide To Love by Kristen Ruth Smith

This book was written to get women talking, to make us question our definitions of intimacy, relationship, partnership, and love. This story of one millennial woman trying to 'figure out' where she fits in the evermore complex landscape of love is bold and frank, funny and heart- wrenching, and offers intimate experiences every woman can relate to even if she never dared speak about them herself. This book is an invitation to speak to them. It's a requirement, in fact, since every chapter offers not only wit and wisdom, but practical practices for the reader to engage in herself. This book grants us permission to suspend our ideas of what love is supposed to look like and instead get playfully curious about who we truly are in love.

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July 1, 2019

#21 Curious Love

This 8-episode serial is like getting to be a fly on the wall for every awkward and intimately tender conversation you’ve never had about partnership, love, sex drive, and sexuality. The story is part voyeuristic mystery, part relationship masterclass as it follows a millennial woman through her real-time process of figuring out who and how she loves before her 35th birthday.

She has conversations with everyone from experts to a past unrequited love to her parents, and you’ll find yourself at points laughing, cringing, crying, and most definitely recognizing yourself and your own secret curiosities. The bonus is that there’s a prequel book The Overthinker’s Guide to Love for listeners who want to know more backstory to this earnest and honest quest for love.

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