“But you can overthink! said a friend. This was when I shared my thoughts and assumptions on something we were working on. Their rebuke called me to the realization that I was different from them.
It might feel like you’re the only one lying awake at night, dwelling on a decision you made earlier that day or worrying about tomorrow’s to-do list. You are not alone. You have found your tribe. There is research that suggests 73% of 25- to 35-year-olds chronically overthink, along with 52% of people ages 45 to 55, so you are not alone.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ~Marcus Aurelius
I have found that Overthinking is related to an unhealthy habit that typically causes more stress by focusing on the negative, dwelling on the past, and worrying about the future. That instead of problem-solving, you ruminate on an issue without coming up with logical solutions.
While overthinking itself is not a mental illness, it is associated with conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. It is said to be common in people who have chronic pain and chronic illness as well, taking the form of negative thoughts about that pain and healing from it. If you have identified yourself as one who overthinks unhealthy, here is how you can stop
- Accept or Deny Your Thoughts
- Retrain Your Brain
- Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
- Do a Brain Dump
- Immerse Yourself in Nature
But what is overthinking in a definition? The classic overthinking definition is, “to think about something too much or for too long.” This means when you can’t seem to turn your concerns off until you resolve the concern. Some people as mentioned above become tend to overdo that they become paralyzed ad end up being unable to actually make any decision or take any action.
Note it’s human nature to think things through when making a decision or evaluating a situation. When we think a lot about an issue, we are likely to dissect an issue to great depths—we see all angles, the positives, and the negatives. The problem is that we tend to talk more about the negative aspects of an issue and give the impression that we are only thinking negatively (= not useful, therefore overthinking is looked at as a negative thing).
Speaking for myself, I tend to assume that the positive parts of an issue are obvious and need not be discussed at length. It is the negative parts that warrant focus because they need to be mitigated or resolved. This has led to negative responses.
But here are the positives of overthinking and how to embrace and use it as a benefit. Some of these positives are personal, but most are from other overthinkers summed up.
- It delays the decision-making process. It is a caution against reckless abandon and a potential to come up with the best possible solutions to a problem.
- It gives you a chance to reflect, which is beneficial in a thinking process. Being able to analyze past mistakes, look at what circumstances created a victory, and prevent wrongs from happening again; is a credited skill.
- It may include others in the decision-making process because overthinkers tend to ask others for advice regarding the situation, hence being exposed to different opinions and levels of experience so that more people are included in the final decisions.
- It requires research because overthinkers must be able to keep thinking about new things for the cycle to repeat itself. Simulation of what could happen with every potential scenario requires researched information and this can come up with new solutions that may not have been available before.
- Channel your overthinking thoughts into activities or hobbies that help you release them or produce something. Maybe you can use it to write a book, create art or pottery, dance, cook, or do any number of things that open your mind to free flow.
- Accept overthinking instead of avoiding it on occasion. When you feel and acknowledge you are overthinking, let yourself be okay with it if it’s not coming from a place of fear
- Be aware of the patterns and triggers that cause your overthinking. Learning your patterns helps you notice when they will occur, and you can take precautions when needed.
- Find your tribe of other overthinkers so you feel less alone and help you find ways to work with your overthinking
“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.”