The curse of overthinking

This letter writer is overthinking so much that it’s making her paranoid and stopping her interacting with people. 

Our elder shares some strategies that they have found helpful.


Dear EWC

Hi, I would like to know how to prevent myself from overthinking everything. I have issues with even minor details; sometimes I make things difficult for myself. Brought on by overthinking, I became paranoid. Is that normal or not? Is it normal to talk to yourself in the mirror, sometimes creating scenarios in your brain and starting to talk while imagining that you have someone you’re talking with? Like, for example, imagining that you were on a talk show and happened to be famous, and the host asked you about how you became successful and how you took that all in. With that, you were going to respond with actual events; it was as if I needed someone to talk to. that someone will understand and advise me on what to do or how I can cope with all the sh*t happening to me. 

For me, I’m okay, but sometimes I’m alone, and that’s what I do. I want to do a lot, but I haven’t been able to do it like my hobbies; I’m losing my appetite. I’d rather just sit in the room than interact with people; due to my overthinking, I believe they’re liars or acting nice, but behind your back they are talking shite. Sometimes I really lose confidence in myself. I hope you can answer my questions. Sometimes I thought I was crazy, but I was sane. Thank you.


Sage replies

I empathize with you. I have fought overthinking all my life. I understand how the two destructive thought patterns of overthinking – ruminating and worrying – and the inability to get out of your own heads leaves you in a constant state of anguish.

I know how overthinking everything can result in your becoming someone who stands still in life. I also know how overthinking can result in you self-sabotaging the good things that happen and could happen in your life.

I know how you just can’t stop thinking about an event, a person, something that happened in the past, or on a problem. Instead of looking for a solution, taking initiative and being active, you just keep thinking and cannot get it out of your mind.

I know because I used to overthink things a lot and it held me back in ways that weren’t fun at all. Learning how to cope with overthinking can help you let go of painful memories and break out of damaging thought patterns.

Understand that overthinking isn’t something you’re born doing, it’s a learned habit you form over time, probably as a defense mechanism to the possibility of failure. Learn the reasons why overthinking is harmful, and let it motivate you.

Here are some ways that I learned to overcome and cope with my tendencies to overthink. Consider if any of these may be helpful:

  1. Try to determine why you overthink. Learning why you are prone to overthinking will help you in formulating a plan to overcome and/or cope with it. I learned that some possible reasons for overthinking are lack of confidence, second-guessing yourself, being a constant worrier by nature, using overthinking as a form of protection against troubles, a desire to be perfect, and/or it is a habit.
  2. Understand that over-thinking does not lead to insight. Why? Because you never, ever know what something will be like until you experience it.

School, friendships, college, family, moving home, getting married, ending a relationship, changing career paths are just a few of the things we overthink about. However, no matter how much you imagine what these changes will be like, you will be surprised by what you discover when you actually engage in these activities.

Knowing this, you can move forward with a true understanding of what would be best. Acting, therefore, leads to clarity. Thought does not.

  1. Put things into a wider perspective. So, when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself: Will this matter in five years? Or even in five weeks?

I’ve found that widening my perspective by using this simple question can quickly snap me out of overthinking and help me to let go of that situation and to focus my time and energy on something that actually does matter to me.

  1. Set short time-limits for decisions. I learned that if I do not have a time-limit for when I must make a decision and take action then I will just keep turning my thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in my mind for a very long time.

So, learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it is a small or bigger decision.

  1. Become a person of action. I realized that when I know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then I’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.

Setting deadlines and a good tone for the day are two things that have helped me to become much more of a person of action. Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time are other habits that have worked well for me.

It works so well because I do not feel overwhelmed and so I do not want to flee into procrastination. Even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.

  1. Realize that you cannot control everything. Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything by covering every eventuality so you don’t risk making a mistake, failing or looking like a fool.

Understanding those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes. However, these failures have been invaluable to help them to grow.

So, stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because you can see all possible outcomes in advance.

  1. Do not get lost in vague fears. Many times, my vague fears about a situation in my life have spurred on overthinking and my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something.

So, I’ve learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen? I’ve found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce.

Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes and a bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.

  1. Spend more of your time in the present moment. By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.

Thinking is an inevitable part of your life that helps you reach goals and avoid troubles, but you must know the difference between thinking and overthinking.

Overthinking prevents you from taking action. It consumes your energy, disables your ability to make decisions, and puts you on a loop of thinking and thinking over and again.

It wastes your time and energy and prevents you from acting, doing new things, and making progress in your life. So, I hope you use these tips to get your life moving.

Here is another resource:

Article #: 493558

Category: Self-Improvement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *