Overthink

Overthink. Analyze. Worry. These are only a few things I do when I overthink things. Anyone else have this problem. Something happens and we start thinking about all the ways it should have gone. We hear or say something and we start to analyze if we should have said something different. Maybe not at all. Worry starts and our brains make up all sorts of ways people are now upset with us, situations will start going wrong, and everything will be bad. Overthinking causes issues I don’t need. I have been overthinking things for years, here are some things I have learned to help me overcome it.

Do you have issues asking for help? I never have. In fact, I have been good seeking help for a long time. My issue, I have told myself I am a burden on people. When it came to asking for help in school, I had no problem. That is what teachers were there for. I didn’t ask as much in class but I was all for office hours or email. First off, asking my teachers was good because they knew I was trying. I was not the best test taker so they knew I was putting in the effort. I sent a lot of emails during college if I was struggling. I found out pretty quick, they were always willing to help and my life got easier. Going into the workforce, I got more hesitant to ask for help. I would tell myself, “They have better things to do than answer this question.”, or “I am going to look incompetent if I ask for clarity on this.” Sometimes this held me from asking the question, other times I took the risk and did it. Then I started to do extracurricular things and I needed to learn some things. The internet is a great place to find information but we have to be careful where we find information. I started networking to find people who had done what I was doing. I needed to ask a question and the thoughts came back, “They do not have time to answer this, I will be a burden.” By this point I challenged my brain to say, “Send the dang question, they will either answer it or they will not.” More times than not, I get an email back with “This is where I started, you might check here for more information”, or “This was a great resource, maybe it will be of help”, even “Here is mine, hopefully it will be of reference to help you get started.” People were willing to help! We overthink even starting things before we give them a chance to work. We can figure things out ourselves, but asking for help is a good thing.

Asking for help shows people you are trying to go a good job and you are trying to learn.
Asking for help shows humility. We don’t know everything and that’s ok
We teach our brain that we can figure something out even if we need help.

Overthinking asking for help makes tasks take much longer than needed. Then we get frustrated and the task becomes harder.

Another issue I have found is analyzing something I say or hear. Do you have that issue. This is especially true if we are already sensitive about the subject. We think, “They didn’t react how I expected them to”, or “Did I say something wrong?” Sometimes we overhear something and we get fired up. We analyze what we heard and what it might mean. “What did they mean by this?!”, “I cannot believe this person said that!” All of the sudden we start thinking about what they meant or if they actually meant it. Have you ever said something harmless to someone and they their reaction was not what you expected? They walk away frustrated or give you a nasty comment and you are left dumbfounded. One thing I have learned from this about myself and other people, it probably has nothing to do with you. I used to get so worked up when I said something and I thought someone took it a different way than what I meant. I start to question everything. Are they mad at me? What did I say so wrong? More times than not, people have other things on their mind. We all have a lot going on. Something happens during our day and we do not have time to deal with it and we take it out on someone else. How do I take care of this? I make a simple statement. “I hope I didn’t say anything wrong to offend you or make you angry.” This takes care of multiple issues. It lets me off the hook and I don’t overthink anything. They have the option to let me know if it was me who tipped them off and clear any air. Many times their response is, “Oh no it’s nothing you said, I’ve had this on my mind.” Sometimes this takes a little practice because we hesitate to confront the situation.

My other issue is that I worry about a lot of things. If you are like me and you think ahead to what could go wrong, you want to be prepared. Here’s the issue with worrying, what good does it do? Worrying is another form of overthinking. How to correct this? Shift your thinking. Instead of all the ways it could go wrong, think about how you can prepare to make it go right. One of the stories in Dale Carnegies book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living talks about planning. If we are worried about something, how can we do everything we can to make sure it goes right? Here are some ideas:
Pack ahead the best you can for anything you may forget
Put your presentation on an external hard drive in case technology doesn’t work with you
Plan extra time because things can go wrong and you may need a cushion.
Get out of your head

Is everything guaranteed to go right? No, of course not. If we do our best to prepare, our brains can rest easier knowing we did our best. What is the point in worrying about the things you cannot change. We cannot change the future. We can attempt to plan for the future, but we cannot control what happens. I learned to wrap my head around this concept and I quite worrying so much. I haven’t stopped, but I’ve gotten drastically better. If you are like me and you worry about everything, we cause our own stress. It’s highly irritating. Again I will repeat, We cannot control what has not happened. I’ve learned the only thing I can control is myself, my own thoughts and my own actions. Which means, worrying does me no good and I overthink things and cause my own stress most times. Not worth it.

I have met a lot of people who share my quality of overthinking. It holds us back from doing a lot of things. We make this way too difficult on ourselves for no reason. We think too much. We do not ask the questions and get the help we need because of what someone might think. JUST DO IT. If you’ve tried and cannot find a good answer, ask for help. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Allow people to share resources to make life easier. Then, try to stop worrying about the things you cannot control. We do ourselves no good getting worked up about something that might not even happen. Silly right? Being an over thinker is exhausting. Hopefully I’ve shed some light and given perspective on how I’ve been able to change this habit for me. After all, it is not easy, but it is possible.

Published by dreherl

I a Midwest girl. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. Some hobbies include cooking, reading, and personal development. I love to listen to podcasts. I've always been good at helping people with life advice. I am a wife, mom, sister and daughter. I have two young boys and husband who keep me on my toes. Passions include helping those with self image issues move past them.

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