Before my anxiety disorder erupted, I had no idea that I was what could be referred to as an “overthinker”.
I thought people all thought the same way. While we obviously had different personalities, I believed that we all basically had the same “thinking mode”.
However, once I started having panic attacks and took a look back at my life, and educated myself on the causes of anxiety disorders, I realized that there were some thinking behaviors I exhibited that maybe weren’t quite “average” and that contributed greatly to my anxiety symptoms.
One of these was the amount of time I spent analyzing and “thinking” about things.
Apparently I am quite fascinated with my thoughts and ideas on all things from the ridiculous to the ridiculously deep, because I spend a great deal of time in my head listening to myself go on. And apparently all that analyzing and overthinking, combined with my negative leaning personality, was just the thing it takes to whip up an anxiety disorder.
If you are here reading this blog, there is a good chance you are an “overthinker” as well, and that this is contributing to your own anxiety symptoms.
How do you know?
Check out the list below. These are some of the issues that I live with that help cement my status as “Master Overthinker”. They are also some of the same issues that I have seen pop up time after time during my many discussions and exchanges with people living with chronic worry and/or anxiety.
15 Signs You Are An Overthinker
1. You often forget what you are saying mid sentence because your thoughts are moving so fast that your mouth can’t keep up and loses its place.
“Oh darn, I lost my train of thought”, is something that comes out of my mouth on a regular basis. It is usually right before I am about to say something REALLY amazing and insightful. My brilliance usually kicks back in about five minutes later, after the conversation has ended.
2. You analyze your conversations.
If you leave every conversation analyzing what you said, how you said it, how the other person responded to what you said, how you looked saying it, and what you could have said differently, you might be an over thinker.
3. You have a fear of death.
Thanatophobia is not un-common in over-thinkers because a lot of us spend so much time inside our heads thinking deep thoughts that often fall along the lines of what it must be like to “not exist” and “what really happens when we die”.
Almost everybody has the fear of death to some degree, but a lot of us who are over-thinkers find that we think about it on a regular basis…some of us every single day. Some of us, myself included, can sometimes connect with this fear so intensely that it can cause flashes of instant hyper-awareness of our mortality, which can lead to intense panic.
I have had this phobia of death since I was a small child. In fact, I have it to such a strong degree that I worry about what kind of person I will be if we all have a “next life”. It bothers me greatly that I may come back as an abused child or neglected person in some way and I won’t bring the life skills I have now into my next life.
I feel I should qualify for some kind of “over-thinking” award for that one.
4. If you often use the words “I am probably over thinking this” …you might be an overthinker.
As my good friend Darryl says “If I had a nickel for every time I said this, I would be a nickelaire.”
5. If you have ever stared at any body part and thought to yourself “How am I moving that?”, especially if it is followed by repeated movements to test the process and/or fears that you may somehow forget how to do it because you are thinking too hard about it.
Sometimes when I work out and am in the middle of doing pull-ups, I will start analyzing the mind – body connection and become fearful that if I don’t stop thinking about it, the process will “clog up” and I will become paralyzed and fall to a heap on the floor.
Thankfully its never happened.
6. You feel guilty all the time.
If you feel that every bad thing that has ever happened to anybody ever in the history of time can somehow be connected to you…there is a strong chance you are an over-thinker.
7. You can see 10 different outcomes to any scenario.
Nothing is ever black and white for us overthinkers. We don’t care about the most likely way something could happen. We care about ALL the ways something could happen – and we like to try to be prepared for them all. Usually we accomplish that by worrying…man’s last ditch effort to try to stay in control.
8. You find yourself spending more time inside your head than out of it.
Ok, I am not saying that all introverts are over thinkers, but it certainly increases the odds.
Are you an introvert? If so, what do you spend time doing inside that head of yours? Are you engaging in the arts and/or being an “observer” of life? Or are you up there pondering, analyzing, and rehashing ideas and events? If you are a “ponderer”, make a note to yourself to try to keep it light as often as possible. Avoid brain junk and try your best not to waste your energy on issues that don’t warrant a second thought.
9. You find it hard to get into certain movies because you frequently are thinking:
“What?! No way. There is NO way that could happen in real life.”
Nobody likes watching movies with me because the entire time I am commenting about how ridiculous and improbable things are. I try to just let go and get into it but I can’t help it…as soon as I see something that makes no sense to me, the illusion is ruined and I can’t get back into the movie again.
10. Social Anxiety
If you have social anxiety, there is a very strong chance you are an overthinker. Overthinking tends to clog your thoughts up and words don’t flow. Too much overthinking can lead to feeling light-headed and woozy and make you feel as though you are under a microscope and people are paying more attention to you than they are.
Overthinking also can cause you to place more of a value on what you are saying and cause you to believe that people are judging and dissecting every word that comes out of your mouth.
There is a reason a lot of us just prefer to stay home and watch TV or read rather than socialize. It’s not fun feeling as though you are standing under a white-hot spotlight during a CIA interrogation, when really you are just meeting your friend’s brother Ted for the first time.
If you live with social anxiety try to remember that people are not nearly as focused on you as it feels they are. We live in a very self centered world and we are lucky if we can find anybody that is paying attention at all to what we are saying, let alone that they would start analyzing it and dissecting it the way we think they are.
Just do the best you can and be you. And repeat that to yourself about 50 million times until it finally sinks in. Risk putting yourself out there even if it’s just a little bit at a time and practice conversations at home with yourself, or a close friend…you can even practice with a pet. It all helps and it can get easier, I am living proof.
11. If, in competitive situations, you have a tendency to “choke” and blow it.
It could be pressure to perform, a competitive desire to win, wanting to impress somebody, becoming too “aware” of your technique…regardless of the trigger, freezing up during competition or failing to perform well is very common in over thinkers. We try so hard to do well that it is like our brain goes into overdrive and just locks up.
Don’t feel down on yourself if this happens to you. It is a sign of intelligence and heart!
Nobody who didn’t give a damn has ever choked.
People knock Tiger for losing his game but I am telling you, I have nothing but respect for him. He tries so hard, that he tries TOO hard. They say the strong thrive under pressure and pull through for the win, but I am far more touched by heart when it comes to sports and if you are slumping…you’ve got it.
If performing under pressure is a real problem for you, consider talking to a psychologist who can offer you some good strategies to help you get your game back.
12. If, during conversations, it takes you 10 minutes to make a point because you are anticipating how the other person is going to respond, and then commenting on what you think they are going to say before they have even had a chance to say it.
I am an intuitive person. And I am an over-thinker. And because of this, I quite often end up having one-sided conversations with myself while people are scratching their heads trying to keep up.
13. You are a very indecisive person and you second guess every decision you struggled to make.
From what to have for dinner to where to go to college, we over-thinkers rarely make a decision without effort.
I love going out to dinner but ordering is the worst because I can imagine how good every single item will taste and I don’t want to have “regret” about ordering the wrong thing. So I always have everybody at the table order first, and then when my turn comes I panic and just end up blurting out whatever pops into my head. This is usually followed up with instant regret and wishing I had ordered what the person next to me is having.
No great mystery here.
Insomnia is a classic symptom of overthinking and one of the most frustrating. The overthinking can come in the form of a problem that is weighing heavily on our mind that we just can’t let go of, to simply thinking about the fact that we can’t sleep which makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
I have accepted it will be a part of my life forever and on the good side, it is at least somewhat comforting to know that when my worst fear happens and death does come, I will finally be able to get some decent sleep.
15. You are not comfortable with uncertainty.
A lot of people just go with the flow of life and accept things as they come. Not me. I like to know the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” of everything. I need answers. I find great comfort in certainty.
Don’t tell me “We’ll see”. I hate those words! Or even worse “Your results will be back in a week.”
Horror. Absolute horror.
Unanswered questions give our brains something to question. And the last thing our brains need is something else to question.
If you have found that several of these traits apply to you, then I think its fair to say that you are probably an over thinker, and chances are strong that it is contributing to the development of your anxiety symptoms.
First and foremost remember that being an overthinker is not a bad thing. It actually stems from another wonderful trait which is our ability to think deeply and analyze.
We are the problem solvers of the world. We are needed. Believe me when I say that the world would never have survived without us. However, some of us take this ability to think deeply and analyze a little too far and it stops becoming a “tool” to use when necessary, and it becomes our default setting….our 24 hour thinking pattern.
This is what gets into trouble.
We are overthinking things that just weren’t meant to be overthought.
So how do we quit overthinking and constantly analyzing the world around us?
It’s not easy.
We overthink because it is our genuine comfort zone. Its how we are wired. It is how we feel in control, plus we are genuinely interested in the “how’s, why’s and what’s” of life.
However, we can train ourselves into new thinking patterns to keep us out of our heads a little bit more and engaged into the life around us, not the thoughts inside of us.
Focus on activities that take your focus off of your thoughts and onto something external or that use your imagination in a healthy way – such as writing, art or puzzles.
And be sure to talk yourself away from overthinking.
If you find yourself feeling guilty about something, or having trouble making a decision, simply say “No. This isn’t good for me,” and focus on shifting your thoughts to something else, or on making up your mind and sticking to whatever decision you make, regardless of any doubts you might feel. Do not engage the urge to analyze and worry. I know the pull is strong but make every effort to distract yourself .
In addition to being our comfort zone, overthinking is very much a habit for us and it is what we automatically will start doing when we allow our thoughts to roam free. Use your active, conscious inner voice to stay aware of what your thoughts are and keep them corralled in a healthy place.
Mindfulness is always a great way to keep yourself grounded in “reality” and out of an overthinking loop.
Take note of what is physically around you. Think about what you are doing while you are doing it. Do not let your mind go East while your body is going West. Stay ever-present and keep your mind and body connected. Again, not easy for overthinkers to do, but if you make a conscious effort to put this into practice every day, it become easier and more natural with time and you will find that in addition to discouraging overthinking, practicing mindfulness will also help lower your overall anxiety levels. It’s good stuff.
Remember readers, unless you are in a situation that needs a good solution, overthinking is generally a waste of time and will take you nowhere but walking in circles.
Do you have an overthinking sign I didn’t mention? Please share in the comments – I love hearing what you guys have to say.
Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to do some positive affirmations today. Your brain can’t learn what you’re not teaching!
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