This post is for you if you…
- are a chronic overthinker
- aren’t getting anywhere closer to accomplishing your dream
- want to know how to stop overthinking
The Purpose of this Post
I am an introvert, so naturally I overthink. Everything.
Nothing is too big or too small to escape the hours upon hours of over analyzation if I allow it to happen. Spending a week trying to decide which zip ties to buy is not unheard of for me. And it is downright exhausting.
What happens, if I allow myself to go down this road, is a repetitive and vicious cycle of second guessing and self-doubt which leads to intense overwhelm. And when I get overwhelmed, I don’t just walk away and come back later. Nope, not me! I continue to force my way through it because I have a deadline to meet, dammit. Which always ends up with nothing accomplished except for a massive headache.
The purpose of my post is to show you why your overthinking is keeping you stuck and doesn’t allow you to move forward (and how to stop it from happening).
Signs You are an Overthinker
Just in case you don’t already know you, here are some surefire signs that you are indeed masterful at overthinking:
- You relive things that happened in the past
- You ask a lot of what-if questions
- You find it difficult to make a decision
- You have a hard time sleeping because you can’t stop the thoughts
- You worry about everything
- You spend more time researching how to do something than doing it
- You have a hard time letting things go
- You are a perfectionist
- You have a lot of self-doubt
- You often feel overwhelmed
- You have an active inner critic
Why Overthinking Keeps You Stuck
Okay, now that you know you are for sure an overthinker (if you are still questioning whether you are, you are) let’s talk about why this can stunt your growth.
Thinking about things is a healthy endeavor, as long as you don’t take it too far. As an introvert, you are naturally inclined to have a deep inner world. This is absolutely a super strength as spending time in your thoughts leads to observations and insights that would be lost if you weren’t. However, your super strength can quickly turn into a super weakness if you don’t know how to set boundaries.
You Run In Circles
When you ruminate about the past or worry about the future, you go nowhere. You may think you are, but in reality the only movement you experience towards your goals is circular.
Which brings me to my next point: overthinking is comfortable. It’s what you know and whether you admit it or not, an excuse. Ultimately, it is a cover for what is really going on – fear. When you indulge in incessant what ifs, you are making an excuse. By thinking yourself to exhaustion, you don’t have to face your fear of failure.
If you don’t believe me, take a good hard look at yourself and see if you experience any of the following: perfectionism, imposter syndrome, over researching, second guessing, all or nothing thinking, inability to decide. These are all fancy names for fear.
Think of all the time you have spent on non-productive overthinking and ask yourself how far you have come towards your goal. For me, the minute I realized the amount of time wasted on destructive thoughts was the moment I made a decision to stop.
You Waste Time
As we just discussed, going in circles does nobody any good. All it creates is massive frustration and a reason for your inner critic to launch a full on attack. Which wastes more time.
I spent 3 years thinking myself to death trying to determine the best way to start a business and the best way to get clients and the best way to show up on social media. As you can imagine, all of this thinking led to nowhere. I spend a ridiculous amount of time vacillating between “yes, this is it!” to “no one will want any of this”.
Looking back, I can see how that all of that second guessing and self-doubt kept me right where I was. When you allow yourself to go in circles, you inevitably waste minutes, hours, days and even years of your life. Instead of taking an idea and running with it, you overthink it to death. And more often than not, you just killed the idea that was going to launch you forward with speed towards your dream.
You Drown Out Your Superpowers
Introverts possess superpowers. Everything you believe is a weakness about yourself – perfectionism, deep thinking, analyzing – is actually a strength. However, there is most definitely a fine line between crossing over from one to the other.
Think about it like this: there are two sides to every coin. Let’s take perfectionism as an example. You (and most people) probably see it is a detrimental quality. And it most definitely can be. When you are paralyzed out of fear of not being perfect, that is when you have crossed over into self-sabotage.
But when you flip that coin, you can actually make your perfectionism work for you. A little dose of healthy perfectionism creates quality work that doesn’t prevent you from moving forward. It is also motivational when it motivates you to do your best and not give up when facing adversity. See the difference?
One moves you forward and the other keeps you stuck.
When you overthink, you drown out your innate superpowers. You cross that line from healthy to insane and start the downward spiral into allowing your fears to consume you.
How To Stop Overthinking
The good news is there are ways to stop your overthinking and they aren’t hard. All it requires is a little effort and willpower on your part.
They say it all starts with realizing you have a problem…and speaking from personal experience, they are right. You can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s there. This requires getting honest with yourself and owning the fact that you have been your own worst enemy.
As you become more and more aware of your thoughts and behavioral patterns, you will get into a habit of continual observation. At first, this may seem overwhelming as it is yet another thought. However, the more you practice the easier it becomes and eventually it becomes natural. To start out, strive to recognize when you start ruminating and worrying.
When you know you are heading down the slippery slope of overthinking, find something to distract you. It can be anything – go out and walk the dog, find a funny goat video to watch, turn on some music. The point is to stop yourself from crossing that boundary line.
Set a Timer
Working on something and you can’t seem to get out of your head? Set a timer. I often do this when writing blog posts. In an effort to stop myself from second guessing and perfectionism, I allow myself a certain block of time to complete it. This gets me hyper-focused and I can easily throw aside any thoughts that will derail my progress.
Big Picture Perspective
If you truly can’t get out of the weeds, take a minute to ask yourself two questions:
Will this matter a year from now?
Will I regret this on my deathbed?
Usually, the answers to these will snap you out of your overwhelm and pinpoint exactly what is important in the moment.
Sometimes, all that is needed is a little dose of gratitude to help you out of your funk. Usually, when you are caught in a cycle of relentless overthinking, you forget everything you already have due to the immense pressure you are placing on yourself. If you are working towards something, take a minute and really recognize the abundance around you. What are you grateful for right now?
Ultimately, the end point you want to achieve is to recognize you are an overthinker by nature and accept that you have a choice as to how to use it. You can go one way or the other. Trying to “overcome” your overthinking is a lesson in futility, so why even try? It is a gift (yes, I said gift” you have been given for a reason and it is up to you to figure out what the reason is. Use your qualities for good, don’t run from them.
Final Thoughts on Overthinking
One thing I think is pretty important to remember on your journey is that when you have a dream, it is absolutely possible to achieve it. All too often you sabotage yourself before you even have the chance to start by overthinking. As I mentioned before, this type of overthinking is always due to fear, so knowing what the actual cause of it is incredibly beneficial (if you want to dig into this deeper, check out The Ultimate Guide to Limiting Beliefs for Introverts).
Learning to use your introverted qualities as your superpowers will get you closer to your dream and what you wish to accomplish. All it takes is a little knowledge.
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.