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15 Signs You’re An Over-Thinker Even If You Don’t Feel You Are

15 Signs You’re An Over-Thinker Even If You Don’t Feel You Are

Infinite possibilities.

You’ve probably been told that the world is at your finger tips. You have more choices than ever before and that you should be so lucky that there are abundant opportunities out there.

This idea can be a blessing for some and a curse for others.

If you’re an over-thinker like me, it can be exhausting running through every possible scenario for every potential possibility.

The what if’s start to run your life and you can get so deep down the rabbit hole, that you can even forget what your original intention was.

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It’s even worse when you’re unaware you are doing it!

Here are 15 signs that you are an over-thinker, even if you don’t feel you are.

1. You find meaning in everything

Someone you like twirls their hair twice, instead of three times. You walk past someone and they don’t make eye contact with you, but you walk past them again and this time they make eye contact, but for only a couple of seconds. They looked away a little too fast. What does it all mean!? When you’re an over-thinker, you tend to want to find meaning in the world around you. Sometimes, it can consume you and you over-analyze everything. It’s helpful to remind yourself that nothing has inherent meaning, other than the meaning you give it.

2. You think more than you do

Ever heard the term analysis paralysis? You think so much that you don’t end up doing anything. You weigh your options. You decide that the best outcome might be, but then you compare the best outcome with a new possible best outcome. The cycle continues until you end up doing nothing. Instead of thinking about every possibility, I find it helpful to actually start testing out some to see if they are actually true. While it’s important to think, it’s equally important to act.

3. You get excited when you’ve finally figured something out

Maybe you’ve been mulling something over for weeks. A complex problem that you haven’t figured out yet, but have kept at it. Or, a complex love interest that you’ve obsessed about, until they do something that proves your entire theory about them. Either way, you jump for joy exclaiming, “Eureka!” when you’ve finally figured out the answer. Then of course, you move onto your next problem and even begin to question whether or not you actually figured out the original problem.

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4. You find it difficult to let things go

Because you’ve put in a lot of effort to figure something out, you find it challenging to let go of it. You easily attach to things you find important. You don’t want to fail. When you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into something, it can be hard to let it go when it isn’t working. You may continue thinking about it even after you believe you already did let it go. The more you think about something, the more it can eat away at you.

5. You are patient

You highly value the time it takes to “dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s.” Even if it takes you longer than most, you are delighted when you come out ahead because you’ve put in the time to figure it out. You are willing to wait it out until you feel comfortable with the knowledge you’ve acquired, which allows you to be patient whilst others want quick solutions.

6. You want to get all of your ducks in a row

Be careful with this one. This can often be an excuse to not taking any action. While you find it comforting to wait until you feel ready, you may never feel ready and might only be delaying the inevitable. I know this because I used to say this. Sometimes there will never be a best time and you will never have as much time as you do now. Might as well jump in the water and then get your duckies in a row.

7. You are always seeking new information

A friend forwards you an article about a topic you are interested in. You get a notification from Facebook that you were tagged in a photo at the same time you get a text from someone asking you a question. Then, you’re cubicle mate stands up and wants to try this new restaurant for lunch. With so many distractions, there is a tendency to want to know more information about all of it. So many possibilities and so much to learn about them.

8. You want to know the “why”

Kids love to ask why. It’s hot out today. Why? Don’t talk to strangers. Why? Walk don’t run. Why? Over-thinkers tend to keep this inner child with them throughout their life. They aren’t interested so much in surface level meaning, but the why behind it. This can be extremely beneficial in solving complex problems, having deep conversations, and pondering the meaning of life. Sometimes it can be detrimental, because some things DO have surface level meaning. We want simplicity, yet make things complex.

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9. You want to get everything right

You might be a perfectionist. On the one hand, you pride yourself on being great at what you do and strive to do your best. But when you don’t get everything right and come up short, you can become your harshest critic. By recognizing that this can be a strength as well as a weakness, you can let up a little knowing that you simply can’t get everything right, despite your best efforts. Cut yourself some slack.

10. You dread a one word reply

When you ask someone “How they are doing?” and all you get is “Good”, you cringe a little bit. There is much more to that question than “good.” Wanting to know more, you might pry a little more and ask more questions because you want to figure out how they are actually are. How good? Really good or just a little good? Good today? Good right now? While you may be able to go on and on about how you are feeling, you might also expect everyone else to want to do the same.

11. You assume others know what you’re thinking

Those voices in your head are loud to you, but you may forget that they are yours and yours alone. You might get quiet and assume someone else will know exactly what is going on in that head of yours. But if you don’t communicate it, other people won’t know. While you may prefer quiet environments, you start to realize that your over-thinking gets louder when there aren’t as many distractions. You may find that inner child coming out again when you don’t get your way.

12. You are a lover of lists

The joy of making a large list and crossing out those items as you complete them is highly motivating. When you try and share your love of lists with others, they many not revel in that same joy. But you continue to make them! The satisfaction of planning out something and visually seeing all that planning getting crossed off is pleasurable.

13. You look forward to doing things to calm the mind

Long walks. Meditation. Writing. Exercise. A conversation. You enjoy doing things that take your mind out of over-thinking mode. While your mind is active, you find it difficult to sometimes just be and can have the urge to be doing more. It’s helpful to remind yourself that you are in fact a human being and not a human doing. This will allow your mind to take a much deserved break.

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14. You analyze people

This includes yourself! You may wonder why people do the things they do. You enjoy people watching because you want to try and figure them out. Public places can be both fascinating and overwhelming to you. To you, someone just doesn’t walk by you. You may have noticed the way they walk or thought about what song they are listening to. If someone is talking to themselves, you might have to remind yourself that they are talking to themselves and not you. Then you wonder why they are talking to themselves in first place.

15. You think critically

Sometimes you see alternative solutions to complex problems. Maybe you have some ideas that nobody has ever thought of before. Sometimes you can sit and stare off in awe at the complexity of life. Easy answers aren’t good enough to you. You want to go deeper. You weigh all of your options, carefully investigating deeper and deeper. Your ability to think critically is a strength you are deeply proud of.

Some of our greatest inventors, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders were all over-thinkers. It can can also be very limiting and even lonely at times.

When you can see both the strengths and limitations of your over-thinking, you can balance your level of over-thinking with more doing. You can even teach someone else who under-thinks!

Take comfort knowing you aren’t the only one who over-thinks and remember these 15 signs you are probably an over-thinker, even if you don’t feel like you are.

But don’t think about it too much.

Featured photo credit: The Thinker/Johnnie Shannon via pixabay.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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