Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

8 Steps to Ensure You Accomplish Your Goals 6 Steps to Ensure You Keep Reaching For Your Goals 5 Ways to Lessen Back Pain 12 Self-Destructive Habits to Eliminate for a Positive Life 7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next