Overthinking means thinking too much, right? But when it’s a problem and when it’s an asset (yes, thinking can be an asset)?
“Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.” – Wikipedia
Based on the definition above, overthinking is a problem when it stops us from deciding something or from doing something. However, we know that overthinking is much more than this. It also appear when we’re thinking about our past and that form of overthinking can keep us up at nights. So these two aspects are the most impactful ones. We either overthink too much about past situations and we feel anxiety and frustration because we know there is nothing we can change, or we overthink about our present and future regarding decisions and actions we need (or not) to make, which also creates anxiety and frustration. The interesting thing is that overthinking is not necessarily the root cause, but more like a way for the root cause to manifest. I’ve listed below some of the main root causes for this part of the overthinking process (you can also look up here at the biological implications Max wrote about overthinking):
- Low level of self-knowledge;
- Low self-esteem;
- Low self-confidence;
- Valuing other people’s opinions more than our own;
- The need to always be right.
Ok, I’ve mentioned that overthinking can be an asset too. In my opinion, it can be an asset when we’re about to jump to conclusions without really knowing all the information. We do this sh*t usually when it’s about something bad so we’re creating an environment in our head that makes us mad, sad, frustrated and so on. And guess what, usually, that is not real. This is where overthinking comes in handy. We can look for other similar situations that are not that bad. If we “force” ourselves to realize that we might be wrong about the conclusion we were about to jump into, we can find other theories that can be as real as the first one. We might find out which one is real and which one isn’t, or we might never find out, but they do exist.
Overthinking is useful when we say we “know” what other people think and feel. In the lack of useful information, this is a false empathy. Instead of trying to understand how others think and feel, we project our own thinking and feeling to another and after that, we claim to know what that person thinks and how that person feels. If we overthink this idea, we might come up with some theories and we might even accept that are aspects of other people’s lives we just don’t know about. And that’s ok, but it’s there whether we accept it or not so we might as well accept it because we’re not omniscient nor mind readers . Can we really be that arrogant to claim that we know how others think? But do we know ourselves enough?
Have you ever thought about overthinking as being useful? What thoughts do you have about this?
24 thoughts on “Can Overthinking be an asset?”
Any thing and every thing has it’s benefits and pitfalls. The excess or lack of a particular energetic type.. the imbalance is where these attribute and qualities become problems. Everything has the potential for good if it is enjoyed in moderation. Much like diet, vices, opinions, behaviours. A moderate amount of neurosis is fine so long as it doesn’t impact or impede ones life.
Yes. Balance is the key to almost everything.
I agree. We do project a lot of ourselves on other people when we lack information about them. I’ve certainly done this before. We do this, I think, when we feel very strongly about something or someone. And just like we can overthink something, we can also OVERFEEL it. When that happens, it’s virtually impossible, or at least very difficult, for the other person to keep up. Responses will be “I haven’t even thought about this yet” or “What are you even talking about?”.
It’s a tricky topic because it has a high level of influence on our communication with each other.
Yes, that’s absolutely true. But communication in itself is a tricky thing and so our human beings 😉
I think it’s important to distinguish between critical thinking and ruminating. Ruminating and obsessing over things that have happened or might happen almost always leads the mind down negative pathways. But critical thinking techniques can help us to step back and see things from another angle.
I like using the “courtroom” technique for gaining perspective on things – looking at the evidence for and against, then making a judgement – it’s also good for challenging faulty beliefs, assumptions and seeing things from someone else’s point of view.
Yes, I totally agree with you. Sometimes these things are all seen as overthinking and the mainstream about overthinking is that it’s bad.
The only time overthinking is beneficial to me is when I stop and get input from someone whose opinion I trust. They can usually point out the flaws in my thinking resulting in me rethinking about how my thinking is flawed. This helps to think twice about thinking in this way the next time.
I believe this is the main point. To stop and get inputs.
overthinking cannot be positive .it leads to negative one usually. so do simple thinking or best critical one to know details i depth to arrive at formidable conclusions.
overall a good post.
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Thank you! I think these are different labels to the same ideas 🙂
yes more or less you are right.
Overthinking causes me excessive anxiety (due to negative self-talk when I can’t let something go). It also causes me to be extremely open-minded, though. I never think someone’s feelings are exactly the same as mine due to my analysis of the situation through my psychological lens. I am also aware that there can always be additional information that may alter my own position on a matter. So, for me, overthinking is a double-edged sword.
This is me as well.
Most of overthinking leads to anxiety and negative feelings. It depends on if it’s a choice or a curse.
Well,I generally follow my heart (the mind tagging along in all its humbleness) so overthinking is not a issue… neither is underthinking… 🙂
“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
So your thinking level is just about right.
As they say across the pond, it is “spot on”… 🙂
My over thinking causes anxiety. It keeps me from acting. Definitely not positive for me
It’s probably because it happens out of fear, not out of curiosity.
Why fear, and not curiosity?
Well, if it would be out of curiosity, you would enjoy the analysis because it brings new insights. There might be the fear of doing something wrong or the fear of judgement that causes the overthinking to happen. Maybe the fear of not doing things perfectly stops us from going forward.
It’s kinda like brushing hair. The more life to take care of (that is the more hair to brush) the more snarles to brush out.