Admit it, you’re overthinking whether or not you’re an overthinker even as you read this. I know, because I’ve been there. It can be debilitating at times to think so much about everything that you can actually cause yourself to have an anxiety or panic attack if it gets too out of hand.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE AN OVERTHINKER
For a moment, let’s think about our thoughts (weird, right?) like a web browser. Being an overthinker feels like you have about 15 tabs open at the same time and are constantly clicking back and forth reading multiple things, closing some only to reopen them seconds later, then reading something and thinking of something else and opening another tab before you forget about that, too.
Whew. I’m stressed out just typing that. Being an overthinker means researching things well beyond the point necessary and having more to-do lists than you know what to do with, pun intended.
LACK OF CONFIDENCE
Overthinking typically stems from a lack of confidence. Now, this does not necessarily mean a lack of confidence in yourself, though it can. It usually is more specific to a lack of confidence with desires and decisions. Perhaps you grew up with a narcissistic parent. This can lead someone to adopt the viewpoints of that parent, and when they enter adulthood be unaware of their own desires.
This often causes a lot of anxiety, stress, and indecision which creates - you guessed it - overthinking. It can be hard to determine if a decision is one you really want, or if it’s one your narcissistic parent would have wanted for you. This is only one of many possible causes for overthinking, but it is almost always tied to a lack of confidence.
The inability to make decisions can come at a great cost. Eventually, if you do not choose something, a choice will make itself. For example, if you do not respond to a job offer because you are unsure, they may revoke it or offer it to someone else. If you are unhappy in a relationship and are unsure of whether or not you’ll find someone else if you leave, you may spend the rest of your life unhappy or waiting for the other person to end it so you don’t have to.
Indecision is bred from fear of the unknown. It can also stem from inexperience. Maybe you need to make a big decision at work that you’ve never dealt with before, so you feel paralyzed. Again, this comes from fear of the unknown - more specifically, fear of failure. The next time you feel stuck, journal out the best and worst possible outcomes, and why you are afraid to decide either way. This should help you untangle the conflicting thoughts in your head and give you some clarity to be able to move forward.
Overthinking and indecision can have great costs in your personal and professional life. If you say yes to every offer to hang out with people, even though you may not like them, may be busy, or are simply not interested in joining...you run the risk of losing those friendships entirely when you inevitably flake again and again on things you said yes to.
The same goes for work. If you are unable to make decisions, people will not be confident in your abilities to carry out your job and you will not be the top candidate when a promotion comes around. Companies need people they can rely on, even if they make mistakes.
HOW TO COPE
The first step to overcoming overthinking is to admit you have a problem. If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re already at this stage and that’s great. Next, take some time to care for yourself. Learn when to tune out. Meditation and journaling are fantastic ways to quiet the mind and get in touch with your true emotions, which can bring forth clarity and decision-making. If you’re still struggling, seek out therapy to talk things through and learn new ways to cope with overthinking so you can be the confident, amazing woman we both know you are.