Things All Over-Thinkers Must Have In Mind


If you’re someone who spends a lot of time “in your own head”, you may think you’re alone.  You’re not… Not by a long shot! 

Over thinking is a natural part of life for many of us, even when we’re not aware we’re doing it. Research has shown that over thinking is prevalent in young and middle aged adults, with 73% of 25-35 year-old identified as over-thinkers.  

There are very few benefits to being an over-thinker.  Being logical (and therefore unemotional) about taking action has a lot of merit and can have positive results, but there’s a difference between thinking about something just enough – and thinking about something to the point of analysis paralysis.  The short of it is, you don’t want to be an over-thinker!

Over-thinking can occur as a consequence of a decision that needs to be made, big or small, and it typically happens in stressful situations.  Over-thinking is frequently the direct result.  The worst over-thinkers actually spend time over-thinking seemingly meaningless things to the point that they’ve spent more time thinking about the thing than the time it would have taken to address it completely.  What a waste of time and energy! 

Over-thinking isn’t something you’re born doing, it’s a learned habit you form over time, probably as a defense mechanism to the possibility of failure.  So before going any further, let’s see what we can do about it.

If you find yourself over-thinking, you need to change the channel in your mind immediately. 

This is what all  you over-thinkers must have in mind before, well … over-thinking:

1. Avoid situations and people that can lead to over-thinking. This takes some self-awareness, but it isn’t unlike what an alcoholic has to do in order to stay sober.  They avoid the people, places, and things that put them into that mental state.

2. Talk to yourself. When you have something on your mind and you can’t shake it, stay aware of your thought process… You may find it surprising how often the topic pops up. 

3. Commit to a project that maps to your goals. Find a happy person and chances are you’ll find at least one active project that aligns with their core values.  Try and focus your energy on something that matters to you instead of on the repetitive monotony of unhelpfulness.

4. Distract yourself. Get out, do something, and get your mind off of the thing you can’t stop thinking about.  It’s possible to do this… you just have to be willing to give it a shot, which is probably the trickiest part (convincing yourself to do it). 

5. Turn over-thinking into a next action in a project plan. One big reason for over-thinking is not knowing what comes next in order to make forward progress.  When you consider that over-thinking is usually endless unstructured thinking on something, the key is to turn that energy into structured thinking. 

6. Realize that being perfect isn’t possible. Striving for perfection is a recipe for disaster, and the sooner you give up those perfectionist tendencies, the sooner you’ll move past the thing that’s occupying all your thoughts.

7. Think about the big picture. This is the one that has worked the best for me over the past few years.  It takes a little experience but if you ask yourself, “Will this matter in a month/6 months/1 year?” and the answer is “No” or “Not really”, then what’s the point in thinking it to death?

One way I’ve stopped over-thinking and trying to perfect this post is to close my PC without rereading it and get outside – it’s a great Wednesday night.

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Photo credit: WikiHow Team Team

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