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Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do

Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do
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We all over-think things at times, though luckily most are able to get over it. Some of us, however, are afflicted in such an unfortunate manner that we’re practically always over-thinking about one thing or another. What does this kind of constant rumination do to us? How does it affect our lives? What can we do to deal with it? Find out below …

1. Imagining worst-case scenarios.

Overthinker#1

    Yeah, this one’s obvious, but it needs to be stated nonetheless. Yesterday I had to drive for six hours, and kept worrying about missing my exits, overheating my engine, running out of gas, etc. Turned out everything went swimmingly, my car ran well, my GPS got me to where I needed to go, and I got some awesome mileage out of my hybrid (impressive seeing as it’s a model from 2003). Over-thinkers are always analyzing everything that could possibly go wrong in any given situation, which can be a real problem since this sort of fear and anxiety can prevent them from doing things that need to get done. It’s not a rational fear, either. Even if an over-thinker does something a thousand times with no issues, it only takes one slip-up for them to no longer feel confident doing whatever it was they were doing just fine a minute ago.

    Here’s what you can do:

    Though I still worry about everything that can go wrong at any given moment, I’ve gotten a bit better simply by forcing myself to go out there and do new things. When you start doing all of the things you’re fearful of, you’ll learn that, at worst, only a couple things will go wrong, and it won’t be nearly as terrifying as you imagined. The truth of the matter is that you’ll find that you’re well equipped to handle most trying situations, even when you assume you can’t.

    2. Ignoring the obvious.

    Overthinker#2

      I once spent several hours picking out the perfect café to go to with my girlfriend. I looked at reviews, checked out the areas they were in, looked at prices, the whole nine yards! Lo and behold, when we got there the place was closed. Moral of the story: over-thinking things can and will lead to you missing details that any normal person would have picked up on fairly quickly.

      Here’s what you can do:

      Try to be more spontaneous. Had I just winged it and picked any old café on the street, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble in terms of prep time and worrying about all of the tiny details, which only prevented me from seeing the big picture (i.e., when they were open).

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      3. Being unable to sleep.

      Overthinker#3

        This is another classic symptom of over-thinking. You’ll be thrashing around in your bed, bruising your pillows, heating up your sheets, and generally causing a ruckus, even when, in actuality, you’re extremely tired and just want to sleep. What causes this? Analyzing every single detail of what went down during the day, as well as mentally prepping for all of the things you’re worried about for tomorrow.

        Here’s what you can do:

        Exercise before bed. It won’t get rid of all of your nagging thoughts, but you’ll expel the majority of the nervous energy that normally prevents you from conking out as soon as your head hits the pillow.

        4. Refusing to let go of minor things.

        Overthinker#4

          Over-thinkers have a tendency to let a single (often minor) event ruin their day. For instance, a rude e-mail from your school or work, or a comment from a complete stranger that rubbed you the wrong way. Over-thinkers often go into rage mode over stuff like this, plotting different ways to get back at people (all imagined of course), conjuring alternate realities (in their minds) in order to explore how they could have avoided said situation, and all in all letting whatever happened to them take control of their lives.

          Here’s what you can do:

          You just need to realize that what’s in the past is in the past. It happened, and you can’t do anything about it now besides move forward into the future. Don’t let minor things upset you; in a week you’ll forget why you were even angry.

          5. Failing tests.

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          Overthinker#5

            OK, so over-thinkers don’t “fail” tests per se, but we have a tendency to chew on questions far more than most people. I’ll use an example from the GRE, which is a test you need to take to apply to most graduate schools. Though I’m pretty good at the verbal portion of the test, there were times I would shoot myself in the foot by assuming that certain questions were trying to trick me, which only led to me thinking things over way too much and getting the wrong answer. This didn’t happen too often (since the GRE is one test where over-thinking is a bit useful), but it was noticeable.

            Here’s what you can do:

            That old saying “go with your first instinct” holds up well here. Most of the time, when I over-think my answer to a question, I end up going with my second instinct, when in reality my gut had it right all along.

            6. Experiencing the “time anxiety paradox.”

            Overthinker#6

              This is a neat little phrase I made up to describe when you’re wasting time during the day and wishing you weren’t, though you are too distracted by poisonous thoughts to do anything about it. So for instance, you’ll be sitting in your chair, wishing you were doing something productive. You’ll think to yourself, “Hmm, well I could read a book, play a game, write something, apply to jobs, apply to colleges, clean my room,” etc. All the while, you’ll be looking at your clock, your anxiety rising as the minutes and hours tick by while you sit there being generally unproductive.

              It’s a bit of a paradox really. You’re anxious and over-thinking things because you feel like you’re wasting a day, but the only reason you’re wasting the day is because you’re too busy worrying about what to do instead of actually doing something.

              Here’s what you can do:

              This is a toughie. The only way out of this trap is to pick something, anything to do, even if you have no motivation to do it. Give yourself five minutes to do said task or activity. I guarantee that after those five minutes you’ll start having fun, and you’ll be released from the time anxiety paradox.

              7. The menu conundrum.

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              Overthinker#7

                I hate menus, same as other over-thinkers. It’s not like I don’t know what I want, it’s that I keep imagining all of the other possibilities, weighing whether if, in the end, I’d enjoy a salad over a burger, or chicken over beef, or iced tea over water, or curly fries instead of regular. No matter what an over-thinker chooses, there will be a few minutes of doubt after the fact as they imagine what could have been.

                Here’s what you can do:

                At the very least, do your menu research before you get to the restaurant so that you go in with a plan (though that in itself is a form of over-thinking). Or, pick a type food you’ll stick to when you go out, as a sort of “safety.” Mine happens to be the good old-fashioned burger. If a menu is freaking me out and I’m starting to get anxious, I usually have that to turn to and it generally always turns out pretty well!

                8. You have no problem finishing things; starting them is the issue.

                Overthinker#8

                  This is a problem for me mainly when it comes to videogames. I’ll buy a game and want to finish it, but I’ll be prevented from doing so thanks to thoughts that sound a bit like this: “Well, even if I play it for two hours today, at that pace there’s no way I’ll be finished before next month, and by then I’ll be working more and have schoolwork and have that test, oh, and a dentist’s appointment … yeah, might as well not start at all since I won’t even be able to really enjoy it.”

                  Here’s what you can do:

                  As with the time anxiety paradox, the key is to just start. You’ll have fun, and regardless of whether or not it’ll conflict with events that happen in the future, there’s no reason to cut yourself down before you even start. Give it a try and go with the flow!

                  9. You are accused of being too “silent.”

                  Overthinker#9

                    Over-thinkers hate being accused of adding little to nothing to a conversation. Much to their chagrin, however, this happens often, mainly because they’ll chew over what they want to say for a decent period of time, perfecting it, waiting for the right moment to speak.

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                    Here’s what you can do:

                    Show people that, while you don’t have as much to say as the social butterflies in your group, what you do say is more thoughtful, impactful, and significant. Soon enough, people will quit calling out your silence because they’ll realize that there’s a good reason for it.

                    10. The stutter effect.

                    Overthinker#10

                      Oh, how I hate dealing with drive-thru operators and other cashiers. Not because I dislike them personally; I just can’t remember the last time I spoke to one of them without mangling the English language. This happens to me at Starbucks a lot. I’ll be thinking in my head, “OK, don’t forget, triple grande vanilla latte hot, don’t forget!” While reciting that line in my head, I’ll also be worrying about something else, like making sure to speak clearly.

                      The result is usually something like this: “Hi, I’ll have a triple g-g-grande vanilla(?) latte … uh … oh and can you make it h-hot?” Nine time out of ten, the Starbucks drive-thru person will scoff at me and say, “Can you please say that again, sir,” which only makes it worse.

                      Here’s what you can do:

                      Try to clear your head before you speak to a cashier, drive-thru operator, etc. When you aren’t worrying about every word you need to deliver, your subconscious takes over and will make you sound like the confident human being you are. I’m still working on this, but I think I’ve at least gotten over the stuttering. Now it’s just a matter of speaking clearly enough for them to understand what I’m saying!

                      I hope you enjoyed this list. To all my fellow over-thinkers: we’re all going to make it!

                      Featured photo credit: Anxiety/ Mariana Zanatta via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                      No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                      Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                      Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                      A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                      Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                      In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                      From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                      A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                      For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                      This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                      The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                      That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                      Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                      The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                      Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                      But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                      The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                      The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                      A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                      For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                      But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                      If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                      For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                      These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                      For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                      How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                      Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                      Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                      Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                      My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                      Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                      I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                      More on Building Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                      Reference

                      [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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