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10 Things Only Over-Thinkers Can Relate To

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10 Things Only Over-Thinkers Can Relate To

When I was in high school, I had a crazy mad crush on a dreamy guy one year older, who didn’t even know I existed. Imagine my shock, then, when he stopped me in the hall one day and asked me to go out on Saturday night.

The rest of the week was spent going through every outfit in my closet, getting advice from friends on hair and makeup, and practicing conversations and quick little humorous sound bites to impress. Five outfits and three different hairstyles later, I was finally ready for the big night. The date was a total bust, but not because of me. He was the most egocentric, narcissistic person I had ever met, and I couldn’t wait to get the night over with.

How much time and energy had I wasted for nothing?

I am one of those people who over-thinks everything, so this has always been “normal” for me. If you are an over-thinker,”you will definitely relate to these other ten scenarios.

1. You fret each exam day

If you have the over-thinker disease, you know how this played out when it came time to take a test. The exam sat before you on your desk or on your computer. You knew you were prepared; you had studied and knew the material. As you looked at each question and the four possible answers, however, the disease kicked in and you began to second-guess your answers. Out came the eraser, as you changed the answer two or three times, still ruminating on it as you went on to the next question and did the same thing. After the test was over, it still didn’t stop. You continued to think about the questions and the answers you chose, still trying to re-think yourself.

2. You hate job interviews

Over-thinkers prepare for a job interview in much the same way I prepared for that bust of a date.

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We change outfits multiple times times. We try to anticipate every question that might be asked and ruminate over the answers we might give. We spend days practicing how to sound smart, enthusiastic, witty and clever, and, at the same time, really serious about our desire for the job. We practice our smiles and facial expressions in front of the mirror and our handshakes with any friend who will tolerate us. We go back over those questions and our prepared answers, tweaking them again–maybe three or four or more times.

Then we walk into an interview that is so casual and “lightweight” that we sail through it, not having had to use any of those answers we spent days preparing.

3. You get carried away with personal finance and budgeting

Every month, without fail, and even several times during the month, we insist upon sitting down at the kitchen table and listing, all over again, our bills and expenses, just to make sure we did not make a mistake, to see if there is any way we can tweak it any more. Our income hasn’t changed in the last two weeks, nor has our mortgage or car payments. But still, we go at it again, getting those numbers down on paper and punching them into our calculators. Nothing has changed in the last week or two, but here we are, just checking it again.

4. You question every parenting decision

Over-thinkers have plenty to ruminate on as parents.

Are we too strict? Are we too lenient? Did I handle that situation right? What should I have done better? Am I a horrible parent because I won’t let my 10-year-old wear lipstick? Am I stifling my child’s search for self-identity by refusing to sign for a tattoo at age 15? When is the right time to allow my child to shop for their own clothes? And how much allowance is right?

Whenever we make a parenting decision, we agonize first over making the decision and, once it is made and implemented, we continue to second-guess ourselves. It’s grueling.

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5. You become neurotic about your pet

Pets have a tendency to become our other children, and we over-thinkers become just as neurotic about them as we do the real thing. We have to continually re-think a million questions and decisions when we get a new puppy. Are they getting enough exercise? Do we have the most nutritious puppy food to be found? We didn’t call the vet about the little discharge from his eye. Should we call about it now? Should we go to the dog park more so he can be socialized? Are we damaging him emotionally by leaving him in his cage all day while we go to work? Maybe we should take him to doggie day care during the day.

6. You are too familiar with social anxiety

We are invited to a party hosted by a friend, and the other guests form a group of people we do not know well. In fact, we have little in common with them. There’s plenty to think about here.

Why did they invite me? Is it just being done out of obligation and they really doesn’t want me to come? If I do go, will I be uncomfortable all evening because I really don’t know anyone? Maybe I should just get sick the day of the party. No, I can’t do that. Maybe I could just go for an hour and come up with an excuse to leave early. But then what will my friend think if I do that? Even though we know it will not matter a year from now whether we attended that party or not, we can’t turn off the scenarios running in our heads.

7. You always have that project at work

It’s important that the deadline is met. It’s important that the boss be impressed. So we set to work on the big project. Every step of the way, however, we stop and ask ourselves how it could be better. Will the boss like it? Can I change the graphs and charts I made into something better? Can I re-write this section and make it better? In fact, we are often in danger of missing deadlines, because we over-think our every step.

8. You are terrible at gift-giving

While most people enjoy the holiday season, we have to gird ourselves for what we know is coming. Whether we shop online or in brick and mortar stores, we have decisions to make about gifts.

We have a great joke gift idea for a relative that we think will just be hilarious. So we order or buy it. As soon as the purchase is finalized, however, we begin to re-think what we have done. Suppose they don’t find it as hilarious as I do? Is it really all that funny or is it just dumb? And that piece of costume jewelry we bought for Aunt Marge? Is it really her style? Will she think it looks too cheap?

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The Christmas season can be pure agony for over-thinkers.

9. You have a special attitude towards home remodeling projects

The house needs a facelift. We are going to put in new flooring, new baseboards, paint every room, and get new kitchen countertops and cabinets. It’s a big project but we are looking forward to an updated “look.”

We choose the flooring, the countertop and the cabinets.  We bring home paint swatches for every room, decide on colors and buy gallons of paint. We make preliminary decisions, and then it begins. The disease has struck again.

Maybe that flooring should be a darker color? Perhaps the kitchen cabinets need to be darker too? And if we make them darker will the countertop still match? We begin to over-think all of the choices we made until we are simply stalled. And then we begin all over again, from scratch. It is amazing that over-thinkers are ever really able to make all of final decisions about home remodeling.

10. You can’t stand the idea of giving a speech

True story. A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at a content marketing workshop. This was exciting for me, because it meant that I was becoming recognized in the industry as someone with expertise.

With great gusto, I set about getting ready. I determined that, in order to gain and keep audience engagement, I needed to be creative. So I prepared a presentation that, when practiced in front of my friends, drew great laughter and total engagement. They thought it was a “hoot” and yet contained some great information–just given in the hysterical format of some of the most ridiculous errors that had been made over the past few years, and then some advice relative to how to avoid the same errors. I had great slides of these errors too. I was ready and excited.

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The day before the speech, the disease came creeping in. What if some of my audience members had made similar mistakes? Would they think I was ridiculing them? What if what my friends found to be funny they would not?

The entire speech could just bomb, and I would be embarrassed and never invited back. So, the day before that event, I changed the entire presentation. I made it straightforward, a bit academic, and certainly provided great, actionable information, but in a serious way. That is the presentation I ultimately gave.

Within 30 minutes, it was evident that I had lost my audience. Part of it may have been that they were out late the night before, but it was definitely a bomb. The second day, when I was to make the same presentation again, I went back to the original. A hit was on my hands!

We over-thinkers will probably not change our ways. It’s natural for us to constantly question ourselves and our choices. But we can learn to laugh at ourselves, and that’s a good thing.

By the way, the research also says we’re more creative!

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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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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