People have probably told you to stop overthinking throughout your life. How many times have you been told to stop obsessing about things like the reasons your girlfriend dumped you or acting inappropriately in front of your boss? Well, perhaps it is time to stop viewing overthinking as such a bad thing. Now, you might be saying ‘what the hell are you talking about’, but I do actually have a point to make so bear with me.
Several studies have shown that overthinking can be associated with creativity and as such over-thinkers are incredibly developed and imaginative individuals. This hypothesis comes from research that has been carried out by examining the effects of neuroticism which is a condition defined by anxiety, fear and negative thoughts.
In fact, here is the definition of being an over- thinker as described by BuzzFeed:
Connecting overthinking with neuroticism makes perfect sense as neurotic individuals are literately looking for things to worry about. In fact, research confirms that the part of the brain that controls self-generated thought is highly active in neuroticism, which results in it being characterised by both creativity and misery. But to back up the evidence, it might worth going back in time to assess some of the most neurotic, but also successful individuals in history. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers and geniuses such as Isaac Newton, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and Kurt Cobain showed signs of neuroticism and had increased threat sensitivity.
As a self-generated thinking process, the act of ‘thinking too much’ does not have real connections to reality, rather to the imagination of the individual. As such they focus on their own thoughts and selectively choose not to face reality in a conventional way. Although, these people are suffering from neuroticism and anxiety, they are also capable of coming up with creative solutions to their problems and leading successful working lives.
This may sound too good to be true, and some people argue that overthinking and its usefulness is ambiguous as it may have different effects on different people.
For example, most over thinkers know they are over thinkers because they probably do or perceive things very differently from other people. They tend to analyse the most casual things and situations in much more depth than others and often concentrate on what could go or went wrong.
As such, I can’t help but wonder: is overthinking a blessing or a curse?
Overthinking = Problem
Many people argue that overthinking is the root of all your problems. When you tend to think about an event or a situation that happened in the past you are only putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to improve something that probably cannot be changed.
The struggle for every over-thinker is that you fail to recognize how not everything is under your control. As such you are creating your own limitations in many aspects of your life.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t think too much:
- You waste a considerable amount of energy
- You are being less thankful
- You constantly doubt yourself
- You don’t live in the moment
- You are more likely to be depressed
Since overthinking involves a lot of negative thinking and countless ‘what-ifs’, you are often faced with negative results. In many cases, overthinking can be seen as a bad habit; a habit that doesn’t allow you to live life to the fullest or the way you want to. When you overthink you are confronted with a huge bubble of negative thoughts and your mind is constantly putting obstacles in your way that are preventing you from exploiting your full potential.
The same happens when you cannot relax, and your mind seems to be working at full speed at all times. While you would think this could make you more productive, in reality it doesn’t as this prevents you from concentrating on reality or even approaching real life issues the way most people would.
Overthinking = Advantage
But there is always another side to the coin. Overthinking doesn’t necessarily mean you are a genius, but adapting to a ‘problematic’ way of thinking does have its benefits.
Here is why overthinking can be a good thing:
- You are a great conversationalist
- You leave nothing to chance
- You have high expectations
- You are resourceful
- You are patient
- You are emotionally intelligent
- You are a multi-tasker
All of these elements show that as an over thinker you can process information quicker and easier compared to other people who only look at the facts. It seems that your brain can handle a lot of information, and you always have something to talk about. But perhaps the biggest advantage of all is that you are highly ambitious and expect more of yourself.
Also, if you are an over thinker, you are more likely to live by making lists and recording everything down. Lists of your every-day goals, lists for your life-goals aka bucket lists, lists of your every-day tasks, lists for the things to buy and so on. However, while lists can work, they are only effective as long as they allow you to be productive.
So, as you can see, overthinking can be both a problem and an advantage. If you think about it, worrying is one of the most natural human reactions and if you can learn how to work around it so you are still productive, then imagine what you would be capable of achieving.
Being an over thinker is only a bad thing only if you don’t know how to control it. This part of managing your emotions is harder than most people think, but the trick is in the way you choose to structure your own thoughts.
Are you an over thinker? Do you think it is a bad or a good thing? Let me know in the comments section below…