It’s human nature to worry from time to time, but what is overthinking?
Overthinking is simply thinking too much, as its name implies. When we overthink, we spend endless time analyzing even the simplest situations or events, taking them out of their proper context in order to make them as simple as possible. Overthinking leads to feelings of stress and anxiety since the brain cannot translate thoughts into positive outcomes.
It’s not uncommon these days for people to use the phrase “overthinking”. The words “I’m overthinking my holiday packing” (you can imagine the social media posts) may seem superficial and lighthearted but to the genuine overthinker, these are not shallow or lighthearted thoughts. What is the difference between overthinking and merely thinking?
Two forms of overthinking
Ruminating and worrying are the two forms of overthinking.
It’s different from problem-solving. Thinking about a solution is part of problem-solving. In overthinking, the problem is dwelled on indefinitely.
Self-reflection is also distinct from overthinking. Self-reflection can help you gain a fresh perspective on a situation or about yourself. This is a purposeful act.
When you overthink, you dwell on your bad emotions and think about all the things you cannot change. New insights cannot be gained from it.
Self-reflection is not the same thing as overthinking, and neither is problem-solving. You can learn from your behavior or develop creative solutions if you spend time developing them. However, using your time for overthinking, whether for ten minutes or ten hours, is not beneficial.
Related: Types Of Overthinking
Am I over-thinking?
Isn’t overthinking a part of everyone’s everyday life? It’s not just about protecting your loved ones, but also about doing a good job as parents, sons, daughters, employees and business people.
Most overthinkers are “ruminators”, remembering previously occurring events. Worrying about the future tends to be plain old and familiar: will I make the deadline? Is it possible to find my mother a nice residential apartment? When we worry, we are working on ways to mitigate the effects, but when we overthink, we become passive rather than active, dwelling on past events and building up disproportionately negative future outcomes.
Consider this scenario. Your new boss accidentally calls you by the wrong name. When you realize this later, how do you feel?
It’s fairly common for worriers to feel mildly embarrassed, apologize the next day via some self-deprecating words, and then completely forget about it by dinnertime. While they rewrite different outcomes, the overthinker repeatedly replays this error. It is not unusual for this individual to be mentally writing scenarios of being snubbed for promotions or redundancy by four in the morning. In an overthinking mind, the incident has triggered big questions that ultimately blow the entire incident out of proportion.
Over-thinking may seem like an insignificant example, but it’s a good illustration of how it can consume your mind and life. Excessive overthinking can lead to catastrophic predictions based on the outcomes of past events.
You overthink because of your primitive emotional brain
Overthinking has its roots in our primitive survival instinct, as do much other anxiety and depression traits.
Primitive minds always look at the world from the most negative point of view. The reason for this is that the brain is constantly alert, attempting to keep us alive – that saber-toothed tiger I mentioned earlier is no longer of any use.
Intellectually, we know that it will not be possible for us to lose our job due to the misidentification of our boss. People who ruminate may display primitive survival instincts, such as fighting or fleeing, thus keeping them alive by focusing on the worst-case scenarios. Anxiety and overthinking work together to increase feelings of stress and helplessness.
Signs you’re an overthinker
You can change your tendency to overthink things when you become more aware. You must first recognize that overthinking harms you more than it helps.
Overthinking can sometimes make people believe that they prevent bad things from happening. The problem is they believe that if they don’t worry enough or dwell too much on the past, they’ll find themselves in more trouble. However, the research indicates that overthinking is not good for you. It also does not help prevent problems or solve them.
You might be an overthinker if you exhibit the following 10 signs:
- My mind replays embarrassing moments over and over again.
- Sleeping is difficult for me because my brain won’t shut off.
- My mind often wonders, “what if…”.
- People say and events happen to me all the time and I’m constantly interested in the hidden meaning.
- In my mind, I replay our conversations and think of everything I regret or wish I would have said.
- My mistakes keep coming back to me.
- My mind replays a bad act or statement someone says to me all the time.
- When I dwell on the past or worry about the future, I sometimes miss what’s going on around me.
- Many of my worries are caused by things I have no control over.
- My mind is occupied with worries.
Overthinking causes stress
Through negative future predictions, one can easily create anxiety. We may feel extremely anxious when we ruminate about the past. We feel that one more negative thought will overflow our “stress bucket” if one more drip, one more thought, happens.
Why do we feel so stressed out? How can we eliminate it? During REM sleep, our brains process their day’s events, moving them from our primitive, emotional brains to our rational, rational brains. The brain records events, together with emotions, and suppressed emotions, and turns them into memories and narratives for another time.
Additionally, our dreams may help our brains to use up unspent adrenaline by letting us ‘live out’ unspent emotion. Someone who made the mistake of calling their boss by the wrong name probably won’t forget it overnight, but by the next morning, the incident won’t really be on their mind.
Overthinkers will not be so lucky. A person who is overthinking, tossing, and turning when they are sleeping, likely won’t get this vital REM sleep, perhaps waking during the night or staying awake until dawn by which time it’s time to start the day with low energy and low mood.
How solution focused hypnotherapy can prevent overthinking
Occasionally, everyone overthinks. The problem arises when people find it difficult to stop thinking. Overthinkers intellectualize their worries, but real ruminators are bombarded with negative thoughts constantly. There is a strong likelihood of a vicious circle developing, as increased anxiety increases overthinking, and so on.
The only way to end this cycle is to break it. Overthinking can be handled with solution-focused hypnotherapy, which focuses on the present and on the future. We can replace all these negative thoughts with positive ones by creating a trance state that causes two sides of the brain to come together.
You will learn to identify your strengths and resources, and we will help you set goals and determine how to proceed based on those resources.
A positive mental attitude and realistic perspective result from hypnosis, which helps people reduce anxiety through relaxation and visualization.
Did you accidentally call that new boss by the wrong name? I think it’s an opportunity for an informal chat, which is always nice, isn’t it?
Recommended: 9 Strategies To Overcome Overthinking
Let’s start thinking about overthinking – together
You aren’t alone. I can help you overcome overthinking, which is something many people experience.
By using solution-focused hypnotherapy, it is easy to break overthinking and anxiety. There is no better way to begin managing your thoughts again than this natural, calming method.