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10 Things Only Over-Thinkers Can Relate To

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 November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

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. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

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.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master 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.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

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?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

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[1].

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 when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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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. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, 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 start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

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, everyone, 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.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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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, try saying no this way:

“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. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    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, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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