The quote above is intended to be mildly amusing but at the same time it does succinctly capture the essence of what being an overthinker is like. But what is overthinking?
The answer, not unsurprisingly, is where someone is thinking too much – their mind and thoughts are constantly ‘on the go’ and it can be very difficult to close things down and relax. Being an overthinker is often closely associated with anxiety and panic disorders as well as being seen with people who suffer with low self esteem and confidence. It is very mentally and emotionally draining to live with, not least for the overthinker but it can also be for those closest to them as well, be it a partner or other loved ones.
What does overthinking typically look like?
- An overthinker struggles to stop thinking about about past events or issues that have arisen. Unfortunately, rather than seeking to solve any problems they get caught up in ruminating and set up a ‘worry loop’ that they cannot get out of their mind.
- Likewise, they can project into the future and worry about what might happen. This can lead to ‘catastrophising’ – imagining the worst case scenarios and running endless ‘what if?’ questions in their mind.
- They can dwell on their past mistakes and wonder what this might lead to in the future.
- An overthinker can become obsessively over-analytical about events and their interactions with other people. This can mean that they are looking for other meanings, motives and agendas behind things. An overthinker can become fixated on the fine detail of everything, questioning and processing every nuance and tone of a conversation. At times this can mean that words, thoughts and deeds can become magnified beyond what is real and rational. For this reason, overthinking is often referred to as the creation of problems that aren’t there.
Overthinkers are often told that they need to ‘stop thinking’ or ‘think less’. Sadly, whilst it may be well intended it isn’t really the best advice. We all have to think! With an overthinker, the first step is accepting that this is what they do. Then it is about learning to relax, reducing the heightened state of anxiety and stress and understanding the root causes of their overthinking. By doing this, an overthinker can learn to slow down their rush of thoughts. As they grow in confidence and acceptance then they are better able to gain a calmer perspective on things. Hypnotherapy can be hugely beneficial in achieving this.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about how those close to an overthinker can help them.