According to Merriam-Webster, ‘overthinking’ can be defined as, “to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing (something) in a way that is more harmful than helpful.” Those who truly suffer from overthinking the experience isn’t one that comes and goes occasionally, it is a constant voice in the back of your mind. It is constantly questioning your every thought and action. It is an inability to sleep, kept up at night by the thoughts that refuse to allow our minds to rest.
Those who struggle with daily overthinking feel the impact in every area of their lives. It impacts their ability to perform at their job, to maintain healthy relationships and to focus on their physical, mental and emotional health.
While some overthinkers are aware of their struggles, able to recognize when their thoughts are starting to take control, others are blind to their struggles. They know that something is off, however, have been unable to pinpoint the cause of their struggles. As their overly active mind and concern take over, controlling their thoughts, words, and actions, they are unaware of this influence on their life. As they open their eyes to the reality of the situation they begin to better understand how to manage their condition, however, even the most knowledgeable overthinkers are not always aware that their actions are controlled by these thoughts.
Here are 12 things that you don’t even realize that you are doing due to being an overthinker:
1. You can’t stand the idea of small-talk
The act of small-talk involves conversations about meaningless things that don’t require thought or consideration. Your mind is always focused on the deeper understanding of what is happening in the world, and as such you find it incredibly difficult to push that aside and entertain a conversation about something as mundane as the weather.
2. You feel happy and validated when your thoughts turn out to be true
You spend much of your life caught up in your thoughts and ideas, and often those things that you spend so long worrying about remain nothing more than a nagging thought in the back of your mind. This can be highly frustrating, leaving you feeling as though you are wasting your time. When a situation arises that your analysis does prove to be true, this validates your feelings and brings joy and happiness in knowing that you were, indeed, correct.
3. You constantly analyze the people, both strangers and those that you are close to
You have an addiction to people watching, loving nothing more than to sit back and analyze what possibly could be going on behind the face of each person that passes by you. You take this a step further with the people in your life, analyzing their every move and word. This can sometimes make public places and socialization overwhelming and exhausting for you.
4. You occasionally find yourself zoning out
When your mind is always on the go, it is not necessarily going to be focusing on the present situation. If you find yourself completely caught up in your own mind you may find that you move into a trance-like state. Consider it like daydreaming, however, instead of just thinking about the excitement of what might come in the future, you are lost in your analysis of the present moment, of days gone by and of what to expect in the days to come.
5. You try to read meaning into everything that you do and experience
You refuse to accept that anything can happen without some sort of underlying meaning or greater reasoning. For example, if someone makes a comment to you at work about a project you are working on you will spend hours analyzing everything that they could have meant. If a friend cancels plans last minute, regardless of the explanation they provide, you will begin to analyze whether your friendship is truly safe, or if there is some bigger concern to worry about. You refuse to just let things be at the surface level.
6. You are always forgetting things
As your mind is always ‘on,’ you spend much of your day caught up in your head and in your thoughts. This can mean that you don’t always completely acknowledge or recall the information that you are given throughout the day, especially the things that you believe are minor or of a lesser importance. These things simply don’t register on your list of importance, and as such are often forgotten entirely.
7. Your favorite activities are those that bring a sense of peace to your mind
You feel the need to rest and recharge at times, especially after times of extreme socialization. These relaxing activities include journaling, exercises, yoga, meditation or extended periods of time outdoors surrounded by the peacefulness of nature. Your mind is always on the go, and these activities allow you to take a much-needed break.
8. You are unable to let things go
Forgive and forget, one of the great models for happiness in life. This, however, is a huge challenge for you as you are unable to let things go regardless of how much they may be haunting you. When you set your sights on a specific thought or concern you latch onto it, unable to let it go regardless of how hard you may try. You may try to push it aside; however, it lingers in the back of your mind, creeping back into your thoughts when you least expect it.
9. You struggle with sleeping
Your brain is always on the go, and this doesn’t change just because you climbed into bed. You will lie for hours with your mind racing, running through the thoughts of the day. You may try to shut your brain off, but you find that it isn’t effective. Your mind just keeps going much to your dismay.
10. You are so caught up thinking things through you often forget to act
You make grand plans, some of which are truly great and could make a significant difference in the world around you. The problem, however, is that you feel the need to think through every possible thing that could go wrong before you take the first step. This need to overanalyze acts as a form of paralysis, as every time that you think you are getting close to acting some new consideration comes to the forefront.
11. You are always apologizing
Your need to overthink actions and words doesn’t stop with the people around you. You are also constantly overthinking your own actions and the way that others may perceive your motivation. This leaves you worried that they may think you are out to hurt them. Anytime you question whether you have upset someone you are quick to apologize in an attempt to make it right.
12. You are always eager to learn new information
As an overthinker your mind is highly active, always trying to consider every side of every situation before you. This curiosity carries through to everything that you learn in your life. If you learn something new, for example, a new tribe in Africa that you have been introduced to, you begin to think through every side and idea. You continually dig for new and interesting information, attempting to learn everything that there is to know about the topic.