How Much Thinking is Too Much? Signs You Are an Over-Thinker
Thinking deeply, spending time soaking up meaningful information, reflecting on what has been learned, developing the phrenic sinews, these are all good things. But, one can come to a point where the passion for contemplation transitions into a pernicious obsession. The question becomes: Where to draw the line between healthy, normal thinking and the enslaving kind? Useful thinking is how we efficiently arrive at desired outcomes. That “other kind” is how we propel ourselves toward madness. What follows is an examination of human thought in conjunction with an evaluation of the characteristics of a chronic over-thinker.
Over-Thinking can be Detrimental to Performance
Most proponents of healthful living agree that learning how to stop thinking so much is the first step toward achieving inner peace and contentment. Past regrets and worries about the future doggedly torment many of us who agonize day and night about past decisions and future choices. None of this is helpful, and the research bears this out. Indeed, in many circumstances investing vast amounts of brain power is the wrong thing to do. In fact, paying attention can by itself be a distraction that affects performance outcomes.
Signs You Are an Over-Thinker
As a rule, thinking is a good thing. While some of us take criticism for not doing enough of it, others over-think everything. Below is a checklist of signs, signals and indicators that can accurately characterize a chronic over-thinker.
– Perfectionism: Aiming for perfection is unrealistic. The chronic over-thinker cannot take action until conditions are absolutely optimal.
– Insomnia: When the mind is constantly reeling, it’s hard to power it down. As a result, sleep suffers.
– Burnout: Some folks think themselves into exhaustion. If this is you, understand that nothing good comes from chronic fatigue.
– Needs others to calm them down: Constantly seeking feedback on what amounts to trifling matters.
– Irritability: Sufferers can be unbearable to be around at times.
– Intermittent hypochondriasis: Occasional debilitating condition brought about by an inaccurate perception of personal health.
– Sustained sadness/negative thinking: Over-thinking impairs problem solving skills and rational thought.
– Perceived lack of control over some aspect of life: Over-thinkers spend more time thinking about things than actually addressing them.
Understanding Buyer’s Remorse: Discovering a Healthy Introspective Process
There are few benefits to being an over-thinker. Being more analytical and less emotional about a given situation has merit. Over-thinking to the point of “buyer’s remorse” is detrimental to sustaining a good quality of life.
Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Over-thinking everything is not what he had in mind when he said that. Dwelling on past decisions, problems and distressing situations (ruminations) is a destructive mental habit. In fact, too much brooding can lead to despair and despair leads to depression.
Your first step out of this trap is gaining an understanding of such basics. The very next step is to find hope in the true and inspirational stories of those who have overcome great adversity to achieve something important. Next, develop an appreciation for humor. Humor is the lubricant that keeps humans from wearing themselves out. Finally, understand the paradox that is buyer’s remorse. Some of the world’s very best money managers (stock market investors) never permit themselves the luxury of enjoying a good trade. It is a fact. When a stock they bought goes down in price, they regret buying it. When it goes up, they regret not buying more. In so doing, they over-think their way out of contentment. Socrates might shrug and shake his head, but the rest of us can learn from this and thereby flourish.