“You think too much” – a familiar rebuke? Well, yes, how else could it be! There is so much to think about, to make the right decision, calculate the possibilities, determine the choice, not to repeat mistakes … Someone can quickly identify the pros and cons and move on to action, but it is too easy and short-sighted. You are not like that. Although deep down you suspect that there are not many downsides to overthinking.
Overthinking is the English definition of overthinking, which doesn’t produce meaningful results but makes life hard. Where this need comes from and how to get rid of it – the subjects studied by psychologists for decades. According to the results of surveys and studies, experts have come to the following conclusions.
Fact 1 – Women think more than men
It’s true. Nature has protected men’s heads from the ability to overthink while women instinctively rack their brains for nonsense.
This tendency has, among other things, social reasons. According to Eugenia Smolenska, a clinical psychologist at the Mental Health Centre, girls grow up getting used to discussing emotional needs and (at least mentally) taking care of themselves and those around them. Boys are raised in a slightly different paradigm, where talking about feelings is not accepted. Growing up, most girls define themselves through relationships, considering the reliability of their partner and the future father of their children as their highest priority. This choice does indeed require serious thought – hardly anyone wants to challenge this truth.
The difference in the urge to think is based on biological differences: women deal with psychological imbalances differently than men. To make decisions or process information, the male brain activates the right frontal lobe, which is also involved in emotional control, while the female brain directs the same requests to the left hemisphere. Women recognise problems and immediately start to think about the consequences, whereas men prefer to ignore them for a longer time.
Fact 2: Overthinking is bad for you.
According to psychologists, anyone is capable of overthinking unnecessarily. Even those who normally keep their thoughts under control may, in special situations, lapse into analytical detail, becoming gloomy oracles of the future. Restless incantations of “What if…”, “What if…” or “I will never/can never…” torment ‘thinkers’, pulling them into a loop of stress.
Experts assess long reflection and reflection on the past as a destructive waste of energy. “It’s important to understand,” a psychologist persuades. – That reflecting on the past and failing to make swift decisions complicates problems and provokes unnecessary fears that act as self-fulfilling prophecies. When the mind starts circling aimlessly, the brain triggers anxiety mechanisms, which can eventually spill over into depression. It does no one any good if instead of living in the present, one constantly compares the situation with the past and fears the future.”
Fact #3 – Trying is healthier than thinking
“The world, people and experiences must be perceived as they are. Because this is how we gain real knowledge and, moreover, we cannot influence most of the events that happen”, says Yevgenia Smolenska.
In order not to let reflection drive you into melancholy, the psychologist advises to get rid of negative stereotypes and regain control over your emotions. Here are a few techniques that experts recommend.
1. Let the thoughts remain thoughts, do not allow yourself to project them onto reality, do not allow the imagination to picture all those “if only”. When you’ve been drawn into thinking, get out of your thought coma by a volitional decision and ask yourself a question: are you getting closer to a solution, have you understood something you didn’t understand, do you feel better about yourself? If you can’t answer yes, you are probably wasting your time.
2. Look at the problem/s from a different perspective, and you may be able to recognise a promising opportunity in it. Name or write a list of what specifically scares/stresses you/ makes you doubt your abilities? Present as objective a picture as possible – how likely the imagined horror is, and what positives might replace them if you’re fortunate enough to have a positive outcome. Once you’ve got the best and worst versions in your head, stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about it. You already know all you need to know.
3. Practice concentration exercises – devote 15-minute breaks to looking at and describing the things around you. Don’t make up complicated epithets and associations, but use simple facts: “This is a table, it’s white, square, comfortable, etc.” In the same way, observe nature as you walk. Look, listen, taste, smell, touch instead of thinking too much. Shift your attention from the inner to the outer and consciously absorb the little pleasures of life with all your senses.