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Why Overthinkers Are Probably Creative Problem-Solvers

Why Overthinkers Are Probably Creative Problem-Solvers

Neurotic overthinkers, often have negative thoughts and emotions. The mere mention of the word conjures up a host of negative feelings and emotions: anxiety, worry, stress, moodiness and overthinking. However, psychologists have discovered a hidden gem. Neurotic overthinkers are highly creative. In fact, if you’re one, you may even be a creative genius.

But why are neurotic overthinkers more creative?

To fully understand this, we need to find the link between creativity and neuroticism…

According to an Opinion Paper published in Trends and Cognitive Sciences, a new theory is presented which establishes a link between creativity and neurotics. The part of your brain responsible for self-generated thoughts – for example, introspection and over analysis- is more active in neurotics, yielding both positive and negative traits. The positive traits are increased creativity and the negative traits are anxiety, depression, obsession and even misery, to name but a few.

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In speaking to Huffington Post, Dr. Adam Perkins, one of the Authors of the study re-affirms this: “Neuroticism has costs, but it also has benefits. Highly neurotic people will suffer a lot of anxiety and depression over their lifespan, but their deep-thinking, brooding tendencies can also give rise to greater creative potential.”

The link then lies in overthinking.

Overthinking as the driving force behind neuroticism

Overthinking is regarded as the driving force behind neuroticism. But not just any type of overthinking. Overthinkers are adept at negative thinking because certain parts of their prefrontal cortex (a brain area governing self-generating thoughts) are highly active. Consequently, they’re hypersensitive towards threat and danger even when it doesn’t exist. They will often go into overdrive to solve the problem. Whilst this can lead to great unhappiness for neurotic overthinkers it’s closely linked to an imagination that over reacts and generates threats. It can also push them to become highly creative problem solvers.

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Perkins goes on to say: “If neurotic people tend to think more about problems due to having a lot of threat-related, self-generated thoughts — which explains their tendency to feel unhappy — it seems likely they will have a better chance to create solutions to those problems, compared to low scorers on neuroticism who look on the bright side of life all the time.”

Great neurotic thinkers

And this probably explains why the likes of Van Gogh, Woody Allen, and Isaac Newton were highly creative and yet highly neurotic overthinkers. They dwelled on problems longer than the average person. They dug deep, they analyzed (and over-analyzed) and they obsessed.

Isaac Newton, for example, was prone to worrying, over thinking and dwelling on scientific problems: “I keep the subject constantly before me, and wait till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light”,

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That being said if he hadn’t, many of his creative breakthroughs wouldn’t have come to fruition. This would’ve had a profound impact learning in schools and the world as a whole.

Helping people make sense of their own experiences

The researchers hope the theory stimulates new research and provides a single framework to tie together both the emotional and creative aspects of neuroticism.They do however acknowledge further research is required:

“We’re still a long way off from fully explaining neuroticism, and we’re not offering all of the answers, but we hope that our new theory will help people make sense of their own experiences, and show that although being highly neurotic is by definition unpleasant, it also has creative benefits” Perkins in Eureka Alert

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So the next time you feel down, depressed, anxious or moody, remember you have an amazingly unique ability as a neurotic over thinker – you’re highly adept at creative problem solving. Some may even say, you’re a creative genius.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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