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Are you an over thinker? - 23rd August 2022
If you know you are an over thinker, that's good because it means you have awareness. You can't change behaviour until you have a conscious awareness of that behaviour. On the other hand, maybe you don't really know what I mean by over thinking? In that case I suggest you read on!
What is over thinking?
I would say it is really a state of obsessive thinking. When you are an over thinker you never trust your own judgement. You certainly never act intuitively, nor on the spur of the moment. An over thinker tries to work out EVERY possible scenario so they are prepared for whatever might happen. An over thinker struggles to make a simple choice, for fear of making the wrong choice. If you have a cluttered home, for instance,you will struggle to declutter anything. Over thinkers try to work out how other people might respond to their requests or questions. They behave as though they are mind readers. Over thinking is characterised by a feeling of agonising over something and feeling like you just can't get it right. You might feel like a rabbit in the headlights.
Over thinking is not the same as 'thinking things through'. The latter is prompted by a challenging situation or question that arises and you apply logic, past experience, new information, and take time to come to your best decision. This might feel like hard work on occasion, but it won't ever feel like your feet are stuck to the floor with super glue!
When things go 'wrong' for the over thinker that person struggles to put it down to experience. Instead they ramp up the over thinking to avoid another supposed failure. Unfortunately this OVER over thinking creates more stress as your brain becomes desperate to find the right answers and is less able to accept anything that is not 100%. Feelings of panic are on the horizon.
Over thinking and prevarication are cousins!
Before writing this blog post I thought long and hard about whether over thinking is just another way to describe prevarication. I concluded that it's not. There are similarities, but they are not the same thing. Both will slow you down considerably. They can also both make you feel pretty miserable.
Prevarication however is summed up by the inability to choose. It's dithering taken to the extreme, but may not involve much thought - just a feeling of being stuck, which of course is far from desirable. Although it is entirely possible that prevarication is driven by subconscious thoughts of which we are totally unaware - at least until we work on it.
I used to regularly experience both of these states, occasionally they can still pop up. Now though, I am better able to understand why they have materialised and take action to address my perceived need to engage in these activities. Healing is always part of the process.
How to manage over thinking
Firstly, notice you are doing it! Harder than it sounds as most of our actions are automatic. Just observe yourself when you seem to feel a bit stuck, and are simultaneously trying to second-guess any future outcome.
I obviously can't speak for everyone, but in my case I know that over thinking came about as a result of chronic anxiety and having practically zero self-confidence. Maybe it's the same for you? Why are you so obsessed about trying to micro manage everything? Why is it so hard to cope when things don't go 100% your way?
If you can answer these questions you will be getting to the root cause of your over thinking. Then it's a case of noticing when you are doing it and pulling back a bit, and instead, considering alternative behaviour that feels within your reach.
What has helped me enormously is learning about the inner child and how what happened to me when I was little has a HUGE bearing on how I behave in the now. It is possible with support to communicate with this part of you and to heal his or her wounding. Imagine a young child who is told off repeatedly for getting things wrong. Would it surprise you that the child experiences this as trauma? Would it surprise you to know that the child grows into an adult who is obsessed by getting things right?
When I coach clients I use these inner child techniques to help them conquer seemingly inexplicable behaviour challenges, such as over thinking, or feeling inappropriately over emotional. If you'd like to find out more about the coaching process, please contact me either via email here, or give me a call on 07850 580802. I'm always happy to chat and I work via Zoom so it doesn't matter where you are located.
Keywords: head-clutter, prevarication, indecision