Effects of Overthinking: the Facts of Thinking Too Much

effects of overthinking

Imagine that you have to make an important decision in your life: what career to study, where to buy a house, end a relationship, have children or not. What is your attitude towards this decision making? Are you one of those who thinks about it for a few days and then ventures hoping for the best? Or maybe you are one of those who spend months analyzing, gathering information, asking, reflecting and spending sleepless nights before announcing your final choice?

Although we have been taught that we must be careful before making decisions, falling to the extreme is not always a good thing and the disadvantages of thinking too much can fall on us, leaving us overwhelmed with inaction.

Effects of overthinking

Being analytical and reflective is helpful in decision making. People with these characteristics usually have the quality to visualize different possible scenarios; but when these qualities become excessive the disadvantages of thinking too much are present. These are the main ones.

effects of overthinking

1. Anguish

Thinking too many causes an accumulation of worries. After a new thought, new anguish appears. However these thoughts and these anguishes are only in the imaginary, they are possible circumstances that will occur if X or Y happens but they do not yet exist in the real and even so they have already generated fear for what could happen.

Prospecting all possible scenarios around a situation can be helpful and helps glimpse the big picture and take action accordingly. The problem is that in front of every situation a concern can be generated that becomes overwhelming.

2. Excessive concern for the future

Should I choose to study medicine or law? If I choose medicine, I must consider that I will spend many years in school and perhaps in the end I will not find a job and I will be alone because I will not have had time to live with friends and meet someone to get married; Or it may happen that I become a successful doctor and earn a lot of money, but then I will have to think about moving to another city and maybe that will distance me from my loved ones. If, on the other hand, I am inclined to study law, it could happen that I am involved in dangerous matters when pursuing my career or that I can do social work and help people in need, but then I will not have money to survive and have a family.

In the end it is very likely that you will have to decide on one race or the other, but having imagined everything that can happen has already permeated the mood filling us with doubts and concerns . Even if you choose a different profession, there will still be oversized doubts and fear for having spent too much time thinking about what might happen.

For this reason, all the concerns that are generated during the exhaustive analysis of a situation give shape to one of the disadvantages of thinking too much that people with these characteristics can face: the difficulty of putting a limit to the forecasts.

3. Falling into inaction or “analysis paralysis”

As we have seen, there are decisions that have “expiration time”. There comes a time when you have to choose. When a person who thinks too much faces that moment, he may be inclined to one of the many options he thought, And even with doubt or fear or tormenting whether it will be the best choice, in the end you will have to have made a determination.

But there are situations that do not require a specific date or time to act. There is no external social pressure, and even if there is, it can somehow be postponed. Even situations in which it is precisely analyzed whether or not it should be carried out. In these cases, decision-making can be extended as infinite scenarios and worries and anguish over what may happen appear.

It is in this inaction where creative, family and professional projects are truncated. That business that we are excited about but that we are not sure will work, we leave it suspended in the form of hypotheses, and we lose ourselves in vague ideas that we think and think without reaching anything. The trip we have dreamed of for years but we do not know if we can make it. Moving to that city or country that always makes us excited and where we have been offered work but in which we are not sure that we will adapt …

Although action must be accompanied by reflection, we must be very careful not to fall into the disadvantages of thinking too much that leave us paralyzed and without taking action.

For these reasons we must understand that the establishment of plans is only one phase of the process, and stopping there too long can bring us more frustration and anguish than the satisfaction of giving action to our thoughts to make way for the learning and experience that bringing us carry out our plans.

4. Perfectionism and exacerbated self-demand

It is also good to recognize that thinking too much is also good. It is useful for the planning phase of any project, it is enriching in the debate of ideas, in the structuring of critical thinking, the analysis of proposals … obviously in the elaboration of hypotheses and investigations and in everyday life itself having a Wide panorama of possible scenarios is helpful in decision making.

The problem of thinking too much is when this is combined with fear, perfectionism and self-demand, leaving us unable to make an election and postponing for no reason other than “I’m still thinking” because there is no date to border us to have a result. Furthermore, excessive perfectionism can significantly damage self-esteem.

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