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12 Things To Remember Before You Date An Over-Thinker

12 Things To Remember Before You Date An Over-Thinker

My mind is constantly racing. Unfortunately, this leads me to constantly worry about what people think of me, what the spot on my left arm is, or what that person meant when he said “Nice shirt” earlier this afternoon. I should be absolutely ecstatic that I found a woman to marry who can deal with this garbage from me on a daily basis (and I am). I guess I just feel bad that I didn’t warn her from the get-go that, when dating an over-thinker:

1. You need to say what you mean

In today’s world, communication comes in many forms. A text message or email can come across in a much different manner than it was intended, through no fault of the sender. Even in person, saying “I’m fine” can send an over-thinker into overdrive, leading to an inner monologue consisting of questions like “Is she really fine? What can I do to help? Did I do something wrong?” when, in actuality, the person really is just fine. It’s always important for people in a relationship to have an open line of communication, but it’s even more imperative if one of the two is a chronic over-thinker.

2. You’ll end up making most of the decisions

My wife definitely gets annoyed with me because I put too much of a burden on her to make decisions. But I can’t help it. When she asks what I want for dinner, my first thought is “Whatever I say, she’ll agree with, even if she doesn’t want it.” In truth, I really don’t care what we eat, as long as she’s happy. Same with making plans on a Saturday. Because I over-think every situation, I’m incredibly indecisive. However, I’ll follow her wherever she wants to go. On some level, she’s accepted this, but I also can tell when she’s tired of being the one to make all the plans.

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3. You’ll make us paranoid if you try to surprise us

Don’t be a sneak and try to plan a surprise birthday party for us. Either one of two things is likely to occur: We’ll be driven absolutely insane by our own (unnecessary) paranoia, or we’ll end up figuring out (and thus ruining) the surprise. Of course you mean well, but just know that when you’re a half-hour late coming home and won’t tell us where you’ve been, we’re going to assume the worst (even if, like I said, it’s unnecessary to do so).

4. You’ll get random texts about random thoughts

I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but it took until about two months ago for me to realize the slogan “Trust Sleepy’s for the rest of your life” is a play on the word “rest.” I’d heard it a million times, but one day it just hit me. Of course, the first thing I did was text my wife to not only gloat about the world-changing epiphany I’d just had, but also to laugh at myself for being so random. Finding the sub-Reddit “Shower Thoughts” made me realize I’m not the only one whose mind is constantly bombarded with outside-the-box thoughts. My wife, on the other hand, probably isn’t so happy I made that discovery.

5. You can laugh at us, to a certain extent

My wife’s usual response to those random texts is: “Sounds like you have too much time on your hands.” I can definitely laugh that off, because I know she’s joking (and also because I know it’s kind of true). But when I’m having an absolutely atrocious day that ends with being ignored by a cashier at the supermarket and getting cut off by a guy blowing through a stop sign, I need some sympathy. Deep down, I know the world’s not against me, but in the moment, it certainly feels like it. Let me blow off steam and come back to Earth before you laugh at me!

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6. You’ll have to keep us off WebMD

I alluded to this in the intro. I’m no hypochondriac, but it’s specifically because I avoid looking up symptoms I’m currently having on the Internet. But I know last week when my arm was tingling for more than a couple hours, I started to worry. I mean, I could have just pinched a nerve or banged it wrong, but what’s this bug bite on my elbow? What if it’s blood poisoning? How am I going to pay for a hospital visit? (Yes, these are all thoughts that crossed my mind in some manner or another). I’m glad my wife was there to remind me I cut up jalapeño peppers earlier in the day, and it was most likely just a residual sting from the juice. Whew.

7. You’ll have to force us to let go of what’s bothering us

Revisiting that “the world’s against me” mentality that comes with being an over-thinker, you’ll need to remind us to let things go sometimes. I realize the person who cut me off didn’t mean to personally attack me, and the cashier who ignored me wasn’t specifically ignoring me, but at the time, it sure felt like it. My wife always brings me back to the reality that it was the other person who’s a bad driver, and the other person who’s a bad cashier. It’s certainly a good thing to have someone to allow us to see things objectively.

8. You’ll have to alleviate our irrational fears

Life is full of “what-ifs.” An over-thinker’s life is full of way too many “what-ifs.” “What if my degree is worthless? What if we can’t have kids? What if we can’t afford a house?” There are way too many problems in this world, and over-thinkers somehow worry about all of them. It’s good to have someone there to tell you that it’ll work out. It’s also good to have someone there to help you realize you’re thinking ten years into the future, when you haven’t even decided what you want for dinner that evening.

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9. You’ll have great conversations

Being an over-thinker isn’t just about worrying too much. Over-thinkers, by nature, always have something to talk about. During dead times in conversation, they’re always thinking of some other insightful (or at least totally random) factoid to discuss. Not only that, but we love to listen. Since we’re constantly over-thinking things, we’ll often want others opinions as well. The more we know about a person, the less we have to guess about them, and the less we over-think about their motives.

10. You’ll always experience new things

Being indecisive means we come up with too many good ideas, and have a hard time narrowing it down. This goes for movies to watch, books to read, places to visit, etc. Though our experiential backlog is most likely gigantic, we will most likely never run out of fun activities to do. Remember, though, it’ll be up to you to actually decide which activity we choose. If you leave it up to us, it’ll be dark before we make a decision.

11. You’ll become more open-minded

Over-thinkers tend to see things from a variety of perspectives. Because of this, we’re able to share differing viewpoints with others. We’re also open to other perspectives that may jibe with ours. We rarely judge others (because we’re too busy judging ourselves!), so you can be free to voice your opinion on any and all things. We won’t get offended by it; we’ll just use it as a talking point to base our conversation around.

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12. You’ll help us live in the moment

Nothing is better to an over-thinker than experiencing something so visceral that our mind actually stops racing, and we’re able to live for now. On my honeymoon last year, as we were walking along the beach, clouds started to roll in, and it started to drizzle. Within minutes it was downright pouring. It made no sense to run back to our hotel, since we’d be soaked regardless, so I pulled my wife close and made her stay right there on the beach, hugged up as closely as possible to each other. In that moment, nothing else existed but us. I’d known for some time that I would marry her, but in that moment, when the only thing on my mind was her, I knew I was right.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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