Are you overthinking – or just ‘thinking things through’?

You may have noticed on the “Programmes” page on my website the free, fortnightly Zoom sessions.

These have been very interesting in so many ways. 

Our most recent topic was that of ‘Overthinking’.

And one of the most interesting discussions we had with the group related to the difference between ‘overthinking’ and simply ‘thinking things through’.

Generally, “overthinking” refers to the process of repetitive, unproductive thought. And the key word here is ‘unproductive’. 

It’s what the Cambridge dictionary describes as: “the action of thinking about something too much, in a way that is not useful.”

Or Merriam-Webster labels as, “to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing (something) in a way that is more harmful than helpful.”

Unproductive…not useful…more harmful than helpful….

If these three things are the result of your dwelling on something, then you can safely assume that you’re overthinking it!

And there’s another important word that came from our conversation. The word ‘Dwell’. 

We often dwell on things, don’t we? 

Overthinking, also referred to as rumination, has been described as, “when you repetitively dwell on the same thought or situation over and over to the point that it disrupts your life, or certainly disrupts your sleep!”

And yet, there are situations, especially in business, where a great deal of thought has to be applied to certain situations, and where important decisions have to be made. 

This decision making may require an immense amount of thinking. 

And may cause you to lose sleep. 

And could possibly disrupt your life in some way. 

If this decision making requires complicated planning or strategizing, then it’s NOT overthinking. 

Because the planning will be that the outcome be as productive as possible.

The big difference for me between ‘overthinking’ and ‘thinking things through’ is the amount of imagination we use in that thinking. 

Once we start to imagine scenarios in our thinking that are not based on experience or wisdom, then we are beginning to allow our minds to follow the overthinking rabbit-hole.

We all have the incredible capacity to think. 

And we all have the incredible ability to imagine. 

In which case we all have the tools we need to allow us to overthink. 

And so, we do. 

All of us. 

But once we understand how this overthinking works, we also have the ability and capability to stop it in its tracks.

There’s nothing wrong with a little overthinking. 

It’s quite natural.

It’s the EXTENT to which we allow that overthinking process to run that will determine whether or not we allow it to become something called WORRY or STRESS.

We have to allow it, because we are ultimately in control.

It’s just understanding how it works.

Best wishes,

Ged Roberts.