15 Signs You are an Overthinker

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Signs you are an Overthinker

Signs You Are an OverthinkerBefore 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.

Signs You are an Overthinker

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.

14.   Insomnia

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.

 

 

MONQ

 

 

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.

 

 

Signs you are an over thinker

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  Canstock



16 thoughts on “15 Signs You are an Overthinker

  1. Dawn Michelle Hebert

    I really hope you still check on these comments because I am deadly serious about what I’m going to say/ask and I hate not knowing something that I feel is important.
    First of all, I am 41 years old and literally up until today, I thought that over thinkers were people who just spent more time thinking, in general, than most. I am frustrated with a few traits I have and wanted to see if there was a common cause between them. I stumbled upon this info and right now my heart is racing and I’m trembling… straight up panicking. However, I’m also a little relieved. I’ve never been inside someone else’s head so I don’t have anything to compare myself to, I swear I thought everyone did these things…all of them and I can add more, I just thought that most people are able to conceal the outward characteristics. I hope there is not a limit on characters for these comments. I will add some stuff and I’d love to get your feed back. I’m sure I’ll be up all night thinking about this until I can share it with someone and get their feedback. When I get excited about something my anxiety will be extreme until I can talk about to someone. When I do find out something that’s exciting and to me is a big deal, I feel like I have to tell people about it before they find out some where else; I have to be the first to tell them, no matter the content. I also WAY overuse adjectives in situations where I’m describing something I experienced that’s incredible or unbelievable. I feel like no matter how I describe it, nobody is going to understand just how intensely incredible it was because they weren’t there. I need to know that people believe me and understand just how incredible the thing was. I’ll keep on describing until I’m satisfied that they find my credible and they say something that makes me believe that they understand what I’m saying.
    The fear of dying: the only time I’ll have panic attacks is when it’s quiet, dark, and lonely. If I do start thinking about it, I have to quite literally run out of the room and use something or someone to bring me back into the present. That’s one I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding: I’m ok if I keep the TV on. It keeps me in the here and now.
    A random thing I do is look at stuff and wonder how it was made, how someone invented it, what led them to creating it, and so many other questions.
    I didn’t see procrastination in your article, so I don’t know if it’s a trait of overthinkers or if it’s just me; it is one of my biggest struggles, in fact I lost my last 2 jobs because of it.
    I always feel the need to prove things… anything and everything.
    I feel the need for people to find me likable or at least not detest me. In between is ok.
    In reference to #5: when I feel like I’m about to panic, I try to just stop thinking and I end up focusing on my breathing. But then it feels like the only reason I’m breathing is because I’m now thinking about it. Even though I know it’s completely autonomous, it seems like if I think about not thinking about it, my breathing becomes erratic until I finally start hyperventilating.
    I take forever to share my thoughts because they bounce around and I feel like I have to go backwards and explain something to someone so they will better understand what I’m explaining.
    It takes me an absurd amount of time to do stuff like write this comment. I’m constantly proof reading and figuring out if maybe there’s a better way to get across what I’m saying. I’ll delete, add, rearrange the order, start writing stuff down on a piece of paper because everything comes to me so rapidly and I fear I’ll forget something, and it’s vital to me to be thorough. Sometimes the frustration of trying to execute something perfectly overrides my need to be complete and I give up.
    I also have an irrational fear of people thinking I’m stupid.
    I apologize a lot.
    Right now I’m thinking that I’m pretty sure I have gotten across enough of my points to give at least an accurate, but not thorough, idea of…well everything I’ve said.
    I’ve also been working on this for almost 6 hours. I hope that’s enough. Now I’m going to think about all the stuff I could’ve been doing instead and the consequences of those things not being done, when I’ll be able to do them, how it’s going to impact my whole day, and perhaps I should make a list in order to better organize my day to make up for it. That was me giving yet another example so that you understand just how intensely I overthink.
    I wonder how many “normal thinking” people I’ve had contact with think I was absolutely insane.
    I want to know what goes on in the minds of people not like me. Surely, you can’t just NOT think at all.
    I’m thinking I may need some help.
    I hope that this reaches you and that you read it, maybe respond even if just to say you read it…at least then I won’t feel like I utterly wasted the last just over 6 hours now.
    It’s like I just don’t know when to stop.
    Aaaahhhhhhhh! Help!

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      Hi Dawn. Let me just say that everything you have describes me to a tee. I fully relate, and the problem is that, like me, you are wired for a certain way of thinking and processing, and you are not using your “operating system” the way it was meant to be used. First, I encourage you to find your MBTI type if you haven’t already. There are tests you can do for free. Its not a “science”, but I have found it to be pretty accurate in categorizing yourself and finding out and helping you to understand what your operating system is so that you can use it most effectively and in the most healthy way. It seems to me that you are wired for overthinking and analyzing, and you are basically spending your life “looking for a problem to solve”. You are like a dog with an urge to chew, and in the absence of a bone, he is going to go the couch, or a shoe or something that really wasn’t meant to be chewed on, just to satisfy that urge. A lot of the issues you describe to me seem compulsive and like you don’t really care so much about the thing itself, but just feeding that urge to do it, because again, you are wired for that kind of thinking. And I am a lot that same way. It is well within your control to break this pattern of thinking. It just takes standing up to your urges and using the logic part of your brain, not the emotional part. Number one, recognize when you are compulsively analyzing things that don’t matter and refuse to engage this kind of thinking. Don’t chew up your couch. Find a bone. If your brain wants to analzye, do it in a healthy way. Use word puzzles, read mystery novels, take up some kind of hobby or find a passion to throw yourself into that is more interesting to you than your urge to “think”. Set small goals for yourself and commit to them. There is nothing wrong with you. You just need to understand that we are not all wired the same and you have to figure out how to live and think the way you were MEANT to, not try to fit into some “average”. There is no average. I promise you that.

      1. Dawn Michelle Hebert

        That makes me feel a little better, thank you! I wasn’t expecting a response because of how old the comment activity was. I’m still just in shock that I’m so different than most of the people around me. Of course I’m looking for healthy solutions. I have been reading and rereading this blog. There is also a book I bought years ago when I was actually in a really good place. I’m not sure why I bought it at the time. I coincidentally ran across it a couple days ago and it is extremely helpful. It’s called “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David D. Burns. I encourage anyone with anxiety, depression, overthinking, etc to check it out. Thank you for your input. This blog had become one of my top go-to things to pull me back into reality. I’ve learned so much from it. Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your thoughts and experiences.

      2. Dawn Michelle Hebert

        And I did the personality test a couple years ago and I randomly do it for fun, I guess. But I’m always an ENTP, which until now, didn’t have much meaning for me. Your advice and analogies are spot on. I love the idea of someone knowing exactly what I am feeling.

  2. Brenda

    Yes I know what you mean. Have also worked on deep breathing, trying to calm my mind with positive thoughts and yes trying to talk myself down from feeling so anxious. Sometimes I think I just care too much about EVERYTHING!!!

  3. Brenda

    I wonder if anyone else has muscle tension which leads to tremors as I overthink everything. Even when I’m getting ready to go meet a good friend for coffee I overthink hoping we have a good visit. Hope I’m not late. Will I appear anxious and nervous? I can’t seem to just look forward to a good visit with an old friend. Exhausting!!
    Brenda

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      I understand. I am the exact same way. I have found it best to “pretend” I am not nervous…place zero expectations and let things happen as they will. So much easier said than done, right? But it gets easier with practice, it really does.

  4. Caz

    Oh heck, I think I’m a ‘yes’ to them all as well! Especially no.8, with spending so much time in my head and with my thoughts, and no.15 with uncertainty; a lot of my overthinking seems to be planning, perhaps out of a need for control and being uncomfortable outside of my ‘comfort zone’ and with uncertainty.

  5. Christian

    Will you marry me Lisa?
    Seriously though, I answered yes to I think every one of these. The one that resonated with me the most is my crippling fear of death. This quote by Woody Allen says it best for me: “I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”

    I’ve been told I am self-absorbed, which I had been starting to take to heart. But perhaps I just overthink, which sits better with me. Regular meditation seems to be the best cure for this, it certainly gives me a break from my constantly running ego, or at least it lets me observe it rather than being consumed by it.

    Thank you for the insightful article.

    1. Lisa Scott Post author

      lol..I don’t know Christian..I have five kids so you may want to rethink that proposal. 😉 Hey don’t ever let anybody make you feel like being self absorbed is a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you are conceited or that you care only about yourself if you happen to spend a lot of time focused on what is going on in your own mind. I am incredibly self absorbed and I happen to be one of the most empathetic people on the planet. Being self absorbed means you are in tune with your inner world which makes you very likely to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and imagine what must be going on THEIR inner world. We do tend to get into trouble because we get too comfortable in our heads, but again that can all be helped with some mindfulness and, as you said, things like meditation, etc.

  6. Nikki

    I’ll take your ‘we’ll see’ and raise you a ‘We need to talk’

    Ha! That is hell for me. If you are telling me we need to talk we are talking…tell me now!

    Another GREAT post Lisa!

    1. Lisa Scott Post author

      YES..I hate that one too. If anybody says “We need to talk” or “Can I get a minute of your time later?” – I will obsess and envision a thousand different scenarios in head; and usually settle in on the worst one. I would rather people just rip the bandaid off and tell me right there and then because it can’t be worse than what my own mind comes up with.

  7. Aaron J Kelley

    Another wonderful post. Thank you for being so insightful in all the ways we tend to express overthinking. I definitely found myself in the list (numbers 8 & 10). But I also love that you shared how we can get away from overthinking, even if it’s only for a few moments, by focusing on the external things.

    I’ve been working hard to do more focusing on the external things, specifically other people. Trying my best to make our interactions positive for them. in other words being more present. This has helped me somewhat and I believe the more I do it, the less I’ll be over-thinking things.

    As always, thank you for such a great post.

    1. Lisa Scott Post author

      Aaron, I’m glad to see you – thanks for the comment. Being more present is absolutely a great way to stop yourself from overthinking. I think I will actually go back and add mindfulness as a way to cope. I am publicly crediting you here for that edit! 🙂 Lisa

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