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I’ve always been an extreme overthinker.
But for the better part of my life, I had no idea I was one. Even when I studied Buddhism and started practicing meditation (which essentially teach you how to train your mind), I was oblivious to the fact that I spent too much time in my head.
Although it was frustrating, I thought everyone else was like me. I truly believed that all people constantly ruminate on the past and irrationally analyze everything. I had to meet someone who was the complete opposite of me to discern how chaotic my mind was.
That someone is my husband. He’s the most laid-back person I know. He has opened my eyes to the fact that I am a worrywart and an uncontrollable overthinker. And because he is the opposite of me, he is a constant reminder of the detrimental cycle of my overthinking.
Realizing that I live in my head has been a great discovery for me. I believe that when we shed light on the problem, we solve the better part of it. I have gotten to a point where I am completely aware of the harm that overthinking has been causing me—I’ve developed anxiety and almost lost touch with reality.
Whenever I feel I’m on the verge of exerting extra mental effort, I pause and tell myself to not overthink. I’m thoroughly convinced now that overthinking isn’t helpful in any way. It doesn’t bring us closer to any result, answer, or conclusion. In fact, it moves us away from them.
Here are 11 surefire ways to know if we struggle with overthinking:
1. You cancel plans just to overthink. Yup, you heard me right. You prefer to stay home or anywhere away from people so you can privately linger on your thoughts.
2. Thoughts don’t just pass through your mind. Your mind is like a check-in office that needs to examine every thought, idea, and memory.
3. You are convinced that overthinking will solve your problem. Like, really. You keep overthinking the problem until you come up with a solution or decision that satisfies you.
4. Consequently, you overthink in order to solve problems. Hello, Sherlock.
5. You feel tired after a “session” of overthinking. The more you think, the more exhausted you feel.
6. You hate being interrupted while overthinking. Can you please not interrupt me when I’m overanalyzing how the spider got into my house, why it’s on the ceiling, and how to get it out?
7. You relive the same memories and experiences again and again. The past is long gone, but not in your head. You overthink if you could have done things differently and if there’s anything at all you could do now.
8. You overthink idiotic things. Like the weather, how carpets are made, and flickering light bulbs.
9. You wish more than you solve. Sometimes, you find yourself thinking and wishing instead of taking actual action.
10. You have trouble falling asleep at night. You even have trouble “staying” asleep at night.
11. You never take hasty decisions. You count to 10, you look from all angles, and you assess the damage before doing anything—including running errands.
The next time you find yourself overthinking, remember what Winston Churchill said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
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