Published on 07 December 2021

What Is Overthinking?

General Psychology what-is-overthinking
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Famous American writer Mark Twain had this to say about the condition of overthinking. But what exactly is termed as "overthinking," and how does it impact our daily life. We aim to clear some of such doubts you might have about overthinking through this blog.

So what is Overthinking?

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Overthinking as "To put too much time into thinking about or analyzing in a way that is more dangerous than helpful."

It is widely accepted that Overthinking is an unproductive thought process that does not reach a conclusion or does not seem to resolve mental health. On the contrary, it generates loops of such thoughts that may go on endlessly if left unchecked. Overthinking can be differentiated into different components such as 'rumination' about the past and 'worrying' about the future. (Flegal, K.E. and Anderson, M.C., 2008)

Do Not Ruminate About Situations:

People ruminate about situations from the past, wondering how things would have unfolded if they had made a different choice in certain conditions. Regrets and resentments are part of such ruminations. Similarly, people ponder upon their current relationships and social situations and start doubting their prospects for a better future.

Overthinking is very common and normal to some capacity, even in mentally healthy individuals. Most people overthink at least one situation every day without realizing they are overthinking it. (Talbert, B., 2017)

How Does Overthinking Affect Our Life?

  1. A Hurdle to Productivity:

Overthinking often ruins tasks that require focus. For example, you may be at your workplace and may start ruminating over the past or questioning if your decision to work at this company was the right one. Thus you are effectively zoned out and may not perform productively or complete the tasks allotted to you for the day.

  1. Ruins Social Situations:

In other cases, such as social gatherings or celebrations, overthinking might lead to absent-mindedness, and thus, the Individual may not be able to get involved in the event. They might not respond to other people socializing with them and, as a result, might come off as unapproachable or even rude to some.

  1. A Hurdle to Enjoying Moments Of Life:

You may be surrounded by the Lush green Swiss Alps or the magnificent craftsmanship of the Taj Mahal and yet stay in a low state of mind, unable to enjoy what is before you due to your overthinking habits.

  1. Poor Decision-Making:

People who overthink usually tend to make bad decisions that negatively affect their lives. Such poor decision-making is because their judgment is clouded by factors that have minor consequences over their present situation.

 As a result of overthinking, people tend to give such inconsequential factors more weightage while making decisions and effectively ignore or give less consideration to matters.  

  1. Anxiety Inducer:

Overthinking often acts as a precursor to anxiety and prevents individuals from venturing into tasks that seem to be risky. Overthinking can constantly push a person into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and make them more Anxious and Depressed.

 Why Do We Overthink? 

Overthinking results from a natural mechanism that helps us cope with real-life problems that we might be facing by trying to find solutions for the same. It originates in our inherent urge to try and stabilize things in our lives and avoid unpredictability.

Our highly evolved brains tend to form complex thinking patterns and find new ways to cross-connect information already available to us.

Overthinking might often fuel other mental disorders like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or Paranoia in people if left unchecked. 

Hence finding and implementing techniques to curb Overthinking are essential to have a healthy and practical thought process. (Baltazar, C.N., 2019)

 How Can We Stop Overthinking?

 Here Are Some Suggestions to Keep Your Overthinking In Check:

  1. Breaking Down Huge Tasks into Smaller Ones:

Breaking down tasks with multiple steps into smaller actionable ones can help focus on the individual functions and thus eliminate the tendency to overthink the situation.

  1. Practicing Mindfulness:

Being able to mind your thoughts is no easy feat, but once you are adept at calling out your own overthinking tendencies, it becomes a little easy to terminate overthinking as and when it is spotted.

  1. Living in The Moment:

Shifting your focus from thoughts to actions might let you get more involved in the task at hand. This will make you appreciate the present moment and enjoy life as it comes.

Overthinking is a significant handicap to experiencing life to its full extent. Checking and managing your Overthinking behavior will help you live a fulfilling life. When working on your Overthinking habit seems extremely difficult, consulting with therapy is highly recommended.