Are you growing tired of your own whirring thoughts, circling around to no end? Is it starting to affect your health and everyday life?
Are you perhaps worried that you might have a problem with overthinking?
What is a chronic overthinker?
Overthinking in itself is quite common. Everybody overthinks every now and then. It is, however, also possible for this to form into a consistent, unhealthy habit. Overthinking can become so constant and persistent that it begins to intrude on your daily life.
As you might expect, falling further into this habit, unaddressed, only makes it more difficult to climb out of it (Fader, 2017).
It is important to be mindful of whether or not you might be overthinking, as it could be hurting you more than you realize. The sooner you understand this concern, the sooner and better you can move forward from it.
(Please read the concluding remarks below for a full disclaimer.)
Here are six signs you’re a chronic overthinker.
1. Repetitive thoughts
It is easy to see the connection between overthinking and repetitive thoughts. Do you tend to go through the same mental route over and over again, leading you deeper into distress? You might be replaying past conversations, mishaps and mistakes, or negative thoughts about situations—or worse, yourself—repeatedly in your mind. You might also be anticipating possible problems or difficult conversations, and in trying to find a way around them, you find yourself going around in circles, instead.
Moving away from these negative thought patterns can be difficult, especially if you are going through a rough period in your life. Unfortunately, repetitive thoughts can affect your mental health, which can then make this pattern even harder to break (Clark, 2020; DLC Anxiety Worldwide, 2021; Fader, 2017; Morin, 2020).
Have you been having greater difficulty with making decisions? One sign that you may be overthinking is if you often find yourself stuck or lost in decision-making processes, especially if this extends to minor decisions, such as, for instance, choosing what to eat.
You may be going over decisions in such a manner thinking that looking at problems from every angle is helpful to you. It can be good to be thorough in planning. However, if you find yourself losing significant amounts of time and energy going back and forth with decisions, if you procrastinate or even avoid important matters (in short, if it is beginning to affect your life), then you might be overthinking (Clark, 2020; Morin, 2020).
3. Self doubt
Some difficulties with decision-making can also be related to self doubt. For instance, you might find yourself asking multiple people for advice before making a move, further lengthening your decision-making process. You might also be beating yourself up over decisions you have already made. You could be doing these because you have a tendency to second-guess yourself.
Do you also spend a lot of time and energy going over how you acted and what you said in past conversations and situations? You may be doubting whether or not you did something wrong, and offended or upset someone. You might then feel stressed out if you can’t read (or conversely, read too much) into their feelings. You may also doubt yourself in terms of school or the workplace, worried about your performance, or whether or not you measure up to your classmates or colleagues (Clark, 2020; DLC Anxiety Worldwide, 2021; Fader, 2017; Morin, 2020).
4. Thoughts keep you up at night
Do you lie awake at night, unable to turn your thoughts off? One very tangible sign that you might be overthinking is that your thoughts are keeping you up at night, preventing you from sleeping properly. Overthinking is actually common, and can happen to anyone from time to time. However, if it starts affecting your daily life, and notably, your physical health (as lack of proper sleep will do), then it might be time to confront these habits, and assess how much they have been causing you harm (DLC Anxiety Worldwide, 2021; Morin, 2020).
It is important to process and accept your feelings—including negative ones—about problems that you encounter. But it is also easier to fall into a cycle of overthinking if you have a tendency to not just process feelings, but dwell and focus on problems instead of solutions. Problem-focused thinking may lead you to going around in circles with your worries and negative thoughts. Problem solving or solution-focused thinking, on the other hand, may help you to break the cycle of these types of thoughts and move forward.
If you have a tendency to dwell on problems, instead of solutions, you may also be struggling with overthinking (Morin, 2020).
6. Struggling to control your own thoughts
Do you try to “police” your thoughts, or do you perhaps feel it is important to have strict control over them? Do you fight yourself over having unwanted, spontaneous thoughts?
You may even find yourself relentlessly questioning why you have the thoughts that plague you. You might even exert a lot of energy searching for a deeper meaning or a justification for your thoughts and why you have them.
Mentally wrestling with yourself in such a way can be exhausting. If you often find yourself struggling to control your thoughts, you might need to address a tendency to overthink (Clark, 2020).
As previously mentioned in this article, anyone can overthink. This can happen during stressful circumstances, or perhaps certain periods of distress. Overthinking can also develop into a more chronic, unhealthy habit that needs to be addressed.
Overthinking can also be pathological, and develop into or be part of a diagnosable mental illness. “Overthinking disorder” is a name that is sometimes given to Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Fader, 2017).
If you suspect that overthinking has reached these levels for you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to consult a qualified mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
Clark, D. A. (2020, January 18). Are you an overthinker? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-runaway-mind/202001/are-you-overthinker.
DLC Anxiety Worldwide. (2021, November 13). 8 Signs You Are a Chronic Overthinker. instagram.com. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CWMjRHYqr7Z/.
Fader, S. (2017, June 2). What is overthinking disorder? BetterHelp. Retrieved from https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality-disorders/what-is-overthinking-disorder/.
Morin, A. (2020, September 27). How to Know When You’re Overthinking. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-know-when-youre-overthinking-5077069.