Updated: Aug 23
Let’s talk about overthinking. This is important for every one of us, because all of us have overthought at some point about something in our lives. Let’s know what overthinking is, what causes it, and how you can stop it.
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What Is Overthinking?
So, what exactly is overthinking? The classic definition of overthinking is, “to think about something too much or for too long.” While it’s human nature to think things through when taking a decision or evaluating a situation, it becomes overthinking when you just can’t get out of your own head.
Overthinking a tough decision you have to take can cause problems. This is because replaying all the options in your head can lead to “paralysis by analysis” – which means, you’re afraid to take the wrong action, so you take no action at all, even though taking the wrong decision is better than taking no decision.
What’s Going On Inside Your Head?
Overthinking engages the same parts of the brain that are involved in anxiety and fear. The cerebral cortex is the seat of all thinking. It’s the logical part of the brain that can bring up memories and help us anticipate things. But if you let yourself obsess about something, you will soon have the amygdala’s attention. It’s the brain’s emotional centre, and research has found it to be involved in anxiety and fear. That’s when things get dramatic. The amygdala makes our heart pound, it makes us feel uneasy and gives us muscle tension. The more you worry about something, the more you train your brain to think about it—and the more you activate the amygdala. Eventually, it can become a vicious cycle, where anxiety causes overthinking, and overthinking causes anxiety.
What Are The Factors Behind Overthinking?
The main factor which leads to overthinking is – uncertainty.
Because we feel vulnerable about the future, we keep trying to solve problems in our head. The interesting thing is, you cannot predict the future for every decision you take. It is your reaction to uncertainty that leads to the overthinking. Once you get into overthinking mode, your brain forms patterns that don’t exist. Such a tendency is called the clustering illusion.
Your brain, by default, tries to identify trends to make better decisions. Our brain has a hard time accepting that the information was random or an event occurred due to coincidence. Picture this: you’ve had a fight with your boss. You start to freak out. Your thoughts go in a loop like: What if he fires me? I was really hoping to buy a house this year. What if I don’t get another job? What if this destroys my career? This loop is dangerous and has the power to amplify your anxiety.
Other factors will include:
1. How Busy You Are
The more time you have at your disposal, the more the opportunity to overthink.
2. The Impact Of The Event
If the consequences of