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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.

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But don’t think about it too much.

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

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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