Are you an overthinker?
Do you find yourself going over and over negative experiences that have happened, or worrying about what could happen in the future? Perhaps you analyse everything you said or did in case you've upset somebody or in case others judge you for it?
This analysing of situations and ruminating on negative thoughts and feelings is generally more common in women than men. Part of the reason for the gender difference is that women tend to be more emotionally connected to others and so worry more about what others think. We also have a higher emotional awareness due to both our genetics and to the messages we picked up from society as children about our role as a nurturer.
Jenny was a client of mine and her mind used to continuously buzz and whirr with her own overthinking. She would constantly focus on the past and the various wrongs she believed had been done to her as well as worrying about what that meant people thought of her.
This overthinking and analysing meant she found life incredibly difficult and exhausting and she often found it hard to make decisions or find solutions to her problems.
Together we worked out the situations and triggers causing her overthinking and developed some strategies to help her quieten her mind.
Jenny still worries and has negative thoughts, but she also knows how not to engage with them and let them go and as a result she is much more relaxed and happy.
Here are some ideas to help you if you recognise yourself as an overthinker:
- Accept that these negative thoughts will come and instead of engaging with them distract yourself with something that gives you a small positive emotion.
- If you're already feeling down or negative you are more likely to overthink and get stressed. So if you feel like this try to avoid making decisions until your thinking is more positive.
- Write it down, this will allow you get your thinking out and it's also very helpful if you can write possible solutions.
- Set aside time to overthink later in the day and park your concerns until then. When you get to that time some of your worries will already be resolved.
- Rather than analysing the detail of a situation, imagine yourself in a helicopter above the experience. Is your perception of it still the same?