Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

15 Signs You’re An Over-Thinker Even If You Don’t Feel You Are 5 Counterintuitive Reasons to Love Your Coffee Even More When You Have Found The Right Woman, These 10 Things Will Happen 20 Things To Remember If You Love An Introvert 10 Things Beta Men Do That Make Them Truly Great Guys

Trending in Communication

1 When Should You Trust Your Gut and How? 2 What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life 3 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside 4 Focus On Yourself, Because Most Of The Time No One Really Cares 5 10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

Advertising

Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

Advertising

4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

Advertising

Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

Advertising

Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

Read Next