Do your worries keep you awake at night? Do you question every decision you make? Do you consider or imagine the possible worst-case scenario? If this is the case, you may be an overthinker.
Overthinking is draining. It is "thinking about something excessively or for an excessively long period."
It is extremely common. We've all had those nagging thoughts that won't let us sleep. Even if it begins positively, thoughts tend to change direction quickly.
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You might start thinking about something someone said to you, and before you know it, you're wondering where your life is going. On the surface, overthinking may appear to be completely harmless. Because you're the only one with your thoughts, right? When our thoughts become depressing, we succumb to self-doubt, which can be fatal. Furthermore, being preoccupied with thoughts causes us to withdraw from friends and family, which only reinforces negative thoughts.
Sometimes, it can feel like your mind is working against you. You're trying to live your life, but your mind can't stop thinking about all the bad things that could happen. Whether or not those things occur, these types of thoughts can be frustrating and exhausting.
While everyone overthinks situations from time to time, some people are constantly bombarded with thoughts. Chronic overthinkers replay yesterday's conversations, second-guess every decision they make, and imagine disastrous outcomes every day. It can be detrimental to one's ability to succeed tomorrow. Your inability to get out of your head will keep you in constant agony.
When you overthink, your mind goes in circles, and you find yourself stuck in reverse, unable to progress forward. Furthermore, you begin to create bizarre situations that completely contradict each other.
For instance, “I can present this topic, it seems easy” goes to “why did I say that?” “That was stupid”, and “I'm so thrilled for this job interview,” becomes “I doubt if they like me,” and then “oh, I'm incredibly dumb!” “That was a terrible thing for me to say! I'm not going to get an offer.”
You begin to blame yourself for things you did not do and you start worrying about scenarios that may or may not occur.
Overthinking frequently involves two negative thought patterns: ruminating and constant worrying. It is divided into two types: ruminating on the past and worrying about the future.
Overthinking is a widespread condition.
People around me often say things like, they can't wind down or relax. It's like their brain won't shut off, and they can't stop thinking about how their life could have been better if they had done things differently."
Overthinking is not the same as self-reflection. Understanding something about yourself or gaining a new viewpoint on a situation or yourself is the goal of healthy self-reflection. It's purposeful. On the other hand, overthinking entails dwelling on how terrible you feel and contemplating all the things you have no control over. It will not help you in any way or develop new insights.
What you repetitively tell yourself and how you continually describe yourself — becomes what you believe and are. Everything we do and feel is influenced by our identity and underlying beliefs.
Overthinking is a habit similar to nibbling one's nails or wobbling one's leg. Nevertheless, all these expressions, including overthinking, stem from an underlying problem that we frequently overlook or ignore. It could be due to a disturbing issue or a need we are unwilling to meet. So, in our minds, we begin to give it as much attention as we can. Especially because our minds require stimulation. That is our brain's food. But we fail to recognize that thinking does not solve problems or meet needs. Overthinking, in particular, because it is not the way to solve our problems, but it is rather a loop of thoughts that roam around in our minds aimlessly, troubling us.
Overthinkers' minds are like movies; they envision their car crashing or replay stress and trauma repeatedly. They would still beat themselves for the mistake they made last week. They can constantly replay next week's assumed failed work presentation in their head.
Of course, we have a natural inclination to overthink a situation from time to time. However, if you spend hours worrying about trivial matters, you will most likely struggle to maintain calm and focus. If you constantly dwell on your past mistakes and focus on problems and shortcomings, it increases your risk of developing mental illnesses. It can also trap you in a destructive spiral that is challenging to break. It disrupts your inner clarity and mental peace, and you tend to overthink when you lose your mental peace.
Overthinking things impairs one's capacity to solve problems because it causes you to dwell on the problem and imagine scenarios that may never occur rather than finding a solution. While you may believe that thinking and rethinking about things that bother you is a problem-solving strategy or approach, this habit of overthinking rarely results in a resolution.
Overthinking, on the contrary, side, increases stress by focusing on the negative, residing in the past, and worrying about the future. This is an overthinking pattern, and it does nothing but destroy us and our mental peace.
This has a negative impact not only on your mental health but also on your emotional and physical health. Overthinking can cause anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, loss of appetite, irregular sleep patterns, high blood pressure, and other symptoms. The goal should be to deceive the brain into not worrying or overthinking.
Few examples of an overthinker’s thoughts
1. It's time for your company's performance review, and your manager compliments you on your hard work several times. Finally, they offer one suggestion for improvement. You leave the meeting depressed and think about that one suggestion all day.
2. You think someone is just being nice when they complement your appearance.
3. If your boss compliments you on how thorough your report was, you dismiss it as something anyone could do.
4. You have thoughts like "what if my alarm does not sound? What if I'm late for the crucial meeting? What if I'm fired after putting in so much effort?"
Why and what causes us to overthink things?
The human imagination is extremely powerful. Constantly or obsessively thinking can lead to a downward spiral. Your thoughts become enslaving, and they can cause you to isolate yourself. It may cause a person to become stuck in the past and future, fantasizing about what could be and overanalyzing everything they have done. It's a terrible cycle caused by someone attempting to escape their current situation, causing pain. It may cause you to be apprehensive about the future and fear negative consequences resulting from anything you believe will lead to failure.
Overthinking is considered unproductive and can lead to rumination. It makes daily activities difficult to enjoy and disrupts our emotional regulation and sleep patterns.
When you can't sleep, your thoughts can race and you could have obsessive thoughts about sleeping. Overthinking is frequently triggered by insomnia and continues into the next day.
You may feel tired, and your mind may be less focused. You may have negative and obsessive thoughts about not being able to sleep. There is a reason why insomnia is referred to as a vicious cycle. When you have it, it's difficult to stop thinking about not sleeping.
Stress and anxiety are the two fundamental causes of overthinking. Aside from these fundamentals, issues with self-esteem and self-doubt are common causes of overthinking.
For example, in the case of the pandemic, social isolation has caused us stress and anxiety, and anxiety is a natural reaction to fear. It has also led us to overthink our future and fear being left behind.
Another factor that can contribute to overthinking is trauma. People who have been through trauma are more prone to overthinking. Childhood abuse or parental neglect, for instance, can cause an individual's brain to become permanently hypervigilant. That is our fight, flight, or freeze response in dangerous situations to save ourselves. As a result, people who have experienced trauma may experience obsessive thoughts in such situations.
Many factors contribute to overthinking
- Lack of decision-making abilities
- Low self-esteem and low confidence
- Social expectations
- Past trauma
- Toxic family or friends
What are the consequences of overthinking?
Overthinking is known to be damaging to our mental health. It exhausts our minds, causes fixations, and exacerbates our problems. But are you aware that overthinking has physical consequences?
Chronic overthinking will consume much of your day, leaving you with little productivity to show for it. It disrupts interpersonal relationships. It fosters misunderstandings, poor decisions, denial, and escapism by sowing doubts. It affects sleep and appetite, throwing your internal system into shambles. It exhausts brain cells, rendering them incapable of producing creative insights; it reduces self-confidence and fosters self-doubt.
Overthinking leads to increased self-doubt, which reinforces the overthinking cognitive style.
You worship your intellect. You take everything it says very seriously. You believe that anything your mind says must be significant. It must have some significance. You respect and trust your mind, no matter how cruel it is to you. That is the issue.
Sometimes I wonder if our own brain or mind is our tormentor, yet we worship it. In what other circumstance would you want to worship your own tormentor?
The dilemma should not be that your mind gives you negative thoughts; it's just that you take your mind so seriously. Just because your mind tells you something doesn't mean it is true.
Thoughts are merely thoughts. Thoughts do not constitute facts.
What can you do about it?
Overthinking can alter how you interact with others and perform tasks. It can significantly impact your personal, social, and professional lives. Above all, overthinking can cause emotional and physical distress. To overcome this, you will need to shift your perspective and make a concerted effort to dismiss any thoughts that lead you astray. You should experiment with different techniques to see what works best for you. Because everyone is unique, not all tools for stopping overthinking will work equally well for everyone and that's fine. Teaching yourself not to overthink is a lengthy process that requires unlearning and re-training your brain.
To stop overthinking, you must confront the issues at hand. When you're feeling overwhelmed, take some time to write down everything that comes to mind, but then focus on the solutions.
To stop overthinking, try challenging your thoughts, try seeking support from loved ones.
Another way to deal with overthinking is to divert our attention away and distract ourselves from the problems and thoughts that are bothering us.
Let's take a look at some strategies to help you stop overthinking.
1. Be aware of your thoughts.
2. Concentrate on what you can control.
3. Examine your assumptions.
4. Take some time to think.
5. Engage the assistance of your friends.
6. Distract yourself
Seek professional guidance
If you have been struggling to stop overthinking, professional help may be beneficial. There, you will have access to certified counsellors who can assist you in overcoming your struggles with the overthinking disorder and answer your questions.
It is difficult to figure out how to stop overthinking on your own, without interacting with other people, it may be impossible. When we are alone, it's the most difficult to stop overthinking. A trained mental health professional can advise you on strategies to overcome it gradually.
Overthinking is a pattern in which your thoughts and worries loop indefinitely. Overthinking, rather than preparing you for the next steps, usually leads to inaction because you are overwhelmed by fear. Overthinkers constantly attempt to evaluate their actions, fearing that they have said something incorrectly. This eventually results in anxiety, preventing them from progressing peacefully in life. Once identified, taking special care of them is critical to living a balanced life. It can be a starting point or symptom of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Consider the fact that your mental depth gives you a significant competitive advantage. You will be able to harness your sensitivity as a superpower once you learn to keep overthinking in check. Remember that you cannot predict the future, and ruminating on things you do not understand is pointless. As a result, learn to transform your pessimistic thoughts into practical and productive thinking. Just keep in mind that you won't be able to eliminate and overcome the habit of overthinking in just a few days. However, with constant attempts, you will teach your mind to remain calm in stressful situations rather than overloading thoughts.