I am guilty of this. I am working on it, but I have to admit that I am completely guilty of overthinking many things. I will overthink a decision, over-analyze a situation and reflect on an event and conceptualize various ways it could have been approached differently. I actually found myself overthinking this blog topic! Now, I do think that some amount of well thought-out and well-planned processes are necessary, however, balance is key.
As I work through my overthinking and find a solid balance, I want to share what I feel are the dangers of overthinking.
- Overthinking can cause you to ‘create’ stories in your head. As you overthink and analyze a situation, conversation or event, you may start to create a story in your head based on your individual perception. Everyone has their own perception and perspectives alter from person to person. After much analysis, sometimes we assume we know what will happen if we ask a question we are afraid to ask or we perceive the tone of an individual as harsh when in fact these are the scenarios we believe to be true. When we create these stories of what we believe as true we lose facts. It is best to view a situation with facts, eliminate emotion and assumption and if you do not feel you have all the facts, it may be wise to communicate with others to ensure you are understanding.
- Overthinking is time consuming. Sometimes I didn’t even realize how much time I have spent on something that I could have easily found the answer to by using my resources. Now, before I waste too much time on something, I bounce my thoughts off of a well trusted friend, co-worker or mentor. Use your resources; confide in another who will not only help with your thought process but will share their perception as well.
- Overthinking keeps you from living in the present. If we spend too much time worrying about a past decision, we remove ourselves from the present and disrupt our focus. Being mindful of the present is something I am working very hard at mastering. If we overanalyze the ‘what if’s’ of a past or future event, we are not being mindful of the present. Again, careful planning for the future is necessary as long as it is kept healthy and not causing worry. Besides, what is the point to worrying about something that cannot be changed or that you no longer have control over?
- Overthinking drains your energy. Overthinking and worry leads to stress and stress drains us of our valuable energy. In today’s busy world, energy is just as valuable to me as time. If my energy is depleted on things that are not priority or necessary, I am unable to maintain my focus on the stuff that matters. I have learned to not let petty or dramatic conversations or events take me away from what is important. Past conversations, decisions, errors, etc. no longer need your energy. Constant re-visiting of past situations will certainly drain energy needed for your present. Be mindful and always focus on the moment and and always look forward.
I do feel very strongly that thinking, analyzing and problem solving are necessary and are key to making a successful decision. However, keeping it all balanced is just as important. Next time you find yourself needlessly wandering back to the past, being consumed by something you cannot control or change, re-visit my blog post and remind yourself of what is worthy of your time and energy and what isn’t.