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Are you DEEP THINKER or OVERTHINKER?

Because your thoughts are such an integral part of who and how you are, sometimes you may wonder if it’s too much.
The fact that you’re a deep thinker, doesn’t make you an over-thinker. 
Deep thinkers use their thinking as a tool, they know how to streamline and control their thoughts, and when to stop. Overthinkers let the thoughts control them, influence their mood and keep them up at night. 
While thinking deeply and analyzing things is constructive, by overthinking you may stand in your own way because it has a negative effect on our mental wellbeing, feeling empowered to make important decisions or just relaxed.

 

If you recognize yourself in most of the sentences below, it’s very likely that you are a deep thinker. Even if only few feel like you, but very strongly, being a deep thinker may be part of your personality. 

  • You’re more on the introverted side, and spend a lot of time in your head

  • Your thoughts accompany you all the time

  • You say little, but observe a lot

  • You research a topic before forming opinions

  • You enjoy deep conversations

  • You make informed decisions

  • You spend a lot of time reading and learning new things

  • While deep in your thoughts, you don’t remember if you locked the door or how you got somewhere or would miss an appointment or forget to buy an item you needed from a store

  • You don’t like small talk

  • You like to plan ahead

  • You’re great at brainstorming ideas and finding solutions

  • You can spot flaws in ideas quite easily

  • You find it hard to fall asleep

  • You’re more open minded than other people

  • You have moments of strong intuition or “gut feeling”

  • Others notice that you “daydream”

Thinking and observing is a great trait and skill that is useful in many situations because it allows you to assess the situation carefully before making decisions. 


Deep thinking gives a you a greater ability to connect the dots and learn from past experiences to predict the future.
The plans you come up with have often high chances of success because they’re based on a deep research and analysis rather than assumptions and feelings.

Because your thoughts are such an integral part of who and how you are, sometimes you may wonder if it’s too much.
The fact that you’re a deep thinker, doesn’t make you an over-thinker. 

Deep thinkers use their thinking as a tool, they know how to streamline and control their thoughts, and when to stop. Overthinkers let the thoughts control them, influence their mood and keep them up at night. 

While thinking deeply and analyzing things is constructive, by overthinking you may stand in your own way because it has a negative effect on our mental wellbeing, feeling empowered to make important decisions or just relaxed.

 

If you are still unsure, look at the list below to see if the statements resonate with you. 

 

If yes, I want you to know that there is a way to change the situation and learn to deal with automatic negative intrusive thoughts and catastrophizing. You can learn to influence the way you think, question the negative pictures you create in your heads and start feeling more calm and in control of your own mind. 

 

When you’re overthinking

 

  • Your head often spins with thoughts, ideas, worries and questions and it’s out of your control

  • You feel that your head never rests

  • When you’re not occupying yourself, e.g. when waiting in line, at the dentist, driving a car, then the carousel of thoughts start spinning faster

  • You perfectioned the “What if” game and can immediately think of multiple possible scenarios that can potentially happen

  • You often realize that you overcomplicate things, e.g. blow them out of proportions, spend too much time analyzing and going into too many directions

  • You immediately see all possible dangers, gaps and flaws of possible scenarios, and it makes you reluctant to try 

  • When looking for a possible solution, you often get lost in details and possible scenarios

  • You often question the decision you just made

  • You experience a decision making paralysis

  • You are replaying conversations and events, analyzing every word, gesture, what you said and didn’t manage/dare to say, and what you could have done instead

  • If I asked you, you would be able to give me a list of all your mistakes and mishaps

  • Your own thoughts make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed

  • You didn’t missed an opportunity because you scared yourself of it or took too long to decide

  • You overanalyze people’s intentions and/or ‘true’ meaning behind their words and actions

  • You often struggle to control your thoughts and their direction

  • You can’t stop your internal dialogue

  • You often talk yourself out of doing things

  • You tend to catastrophize and scare yourself

Below, I have for you few suggestions that can help you deal with overthinking. These are simple techniques that with time can help you calm down, question you initial negative judgment and thoughts that follow. You will be able to redirect your thinking, and make it more friendly and constructive.


This steps are just a tool to mitigate though, they will not solve the root cause of the problem.
If you want a sustainable, deep change, I would encourage you to work with a specialist, a coach like me or a therapist, who can help you understand the root cause of your overthinking, your thinking patterns, automatic reactions and triggers. Based on that holistic assessment you will be able to define an approach that will work for you, in your unique situation, with your personality type, background and environment you operate in.

The CIA model – Control, Influence, Accept 


In every situation there are things that are out of your control and require adaptation. By naming and accepting things you can’t control, you can shift your focus and energy to things that are in your power, that you can influence.

Ask yourself:

In this particular situation: 

Are there things I can control? 

  • The way I feel  

  • My attitude 

  • How do I talk to myself

 
Are there things I can influence?  

  • Can I help someone see a different perspective?  

  • What can I say or do? 

  • What could I change in my approach? 

 

What do I need to accept? 

  • Can I accept it? 

  • If yes, I can decide to stop wasting time and energy on trying to change something that is unchangeable. 

  • If not, what are my options? 

Facts vs emotions

 

When you start overthinking, take a step back, try to find the cause of a specific response and triggered thinking pattern, and then look for rational answers.


E.g. Your partner suggested that you go on a road trip holiday. You agree but then start overthinking, getting anxious, coming up with all possible scenarios of things going wrong, like car breaking down, bad weather, you stuck in a car for hours leading to a fight etc. 

 

Ask yourself - Why am I so anxious? What am I afraid of? If the things happen, can I deal with them.
 

Recognize and challenge your ANTs  (Automatic Negative Thoughts) 


Our mind is sneaky and convinces us of something that isn't really true. As the name says, they’re automatic and negative, learned over years. They’re often unnoticed and unchallenged, but they impact the way we feel and act. 
Full separate article about Automatic Negative Thoughts and how to recognize them here.

 

Use mindfulness – accept and then redirect your thoughts
When you notice that your head starts spinning, force yourself to start doing or thinking about something else, also interesting or important. It’s highly likely that after few minutes you will completely switch to the new thing.

 

Move your focus from complex to simple

 

Especially when you want to fall asleep, don’t allow yourself to start the spiral of overthinking. Before your thoughts become so intense that you will become fully awake, force yourself to focus on something else, something simple and calming, e.g. listen carefully to an audiobook or imagine, detail after detail a nice scene from your life or a movie.  
 

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