Overthinking is a bitch. There’s no better way to describe it. It is anxiety inducing and bloody exhausting. It can turn the simplest of pleasures into such an ordeal that you become unable to enjoy it; a simple trip to the park becomes an exercise in hair pulling, and don’t even get me started on packing for a holiday!
I can’t remember a time before anxiety; it has become incomprehensible to even imagine. Overthinking is a huge part of it, and a hurdle that often seems impossible to overcome. It can take over your entire existence if you let it.
It’s true that everyone worries; everyone has something that awakens their anxiety. But what does it actually mean to be an overthinker?
Constantly second guessing yourself
Did I make the right choice? Did I say the right thing? Should I have picked up some sausages for dinner instead of the chicken? Even the smallest decision can become an internal battle.
Relive embarrassing moments
Do you remember that time in high school where you said the wrong thing? That is going to haunt you for the rest of your life.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found myself going over past conversations whilst having a shower or trying to get to sleep. I play them out in my mind, over and over, trying to figure out what else I could have said or done to change the outcome.
Worry about things you have no control over
If something is out of your control, there is absolutely no point in worrying about it. After all, worrying will achieve nothing! What will be, will be. And yet still those thoughts go round in your head…
Expectation of failure
This is one of the biggest hurdles for me, and an issue we kept going back to when I was having CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). I expect to fail, and therefore I don’t try. That is one of the main reasons I hold back from doing what I love the most; I’ll be crap at it anyway, so what’s the point? Some days it’s possible to push past those gremlins, whereas others are just a write off.
Over analysing everything
Picture the scene. You’re single, and someone has asked you out for a coffee. Is it a date? Do you want it to be a date? Do they actually like you? Do you want them to like you? What should you wear? What if you spill coffee down yourself? Should you get a cake too, or is that too greedy? What should you talk about? What shouldn’t you say? Do they have an ulterior motive? What if you fall in love with them and they just want to have sex? So many questions, from a small suggestion of meeting for a hot beverage. Now imagine applying the same focus and worry on all other aspects of your life.
Why are they taking so long to reply?
I’ve sent you a message, and I can see you’ve been online. Why doesn’t it say you’ve read it? Or if you have read it, why aren’t you responding? Are you trying to avoid talking to me? Have I said something wrong? Have I done something wrong? Have I insulted you? Are you angry with me? Bored? WHAT HAVE I DONE?! I DON’T UNDERSTAND! When in actual fact, you were probably just busy.
Fear of the future
To me, the future is as terrifying as it is exciting. I cannot make important decisions without seeing how badly it’s going to go. I fear having no money; people leaving; my kids dying; me dying; being full of regret at the end of my life. I think it’s fair to say that most people worry about these at some point in their life. For me though, it’s constant.
With so many thoughts stampeding through your mind at any given time, it can be difficult to focus. You can consider one aspect of a decision, and extrapolate it a million times to end up worrying about something that may or may not happen to your great grandchildren long after you are dead. As such, many overthinkers find it difficult to get much done. And then we worry about that too, which leads us down a whole new rabbit hole.
Most overthinkers have real issues with sleeping, and many have recurrent insomnia. It’s difficult to shut off enough to drift off to sleep when you have a million thoughts racing through your head. Night time is when those demons from your past come to haunt you – that present you gave to a friend in Primary school which she’d already been given. The argument you got into with your ex five relationships ago. That’s before you even get started on the present day or the future. And then when you do manage to sleep, there’s the nightmares. The ones that find you awake in the middle of the night in a pool of your own sweat, and the ones that just leave you with an uneasy feeling when you wake up that you just cannot shake.
When I was having CBT, I learned a good few coping methods to help me manage my thoughts. The trouble is though, they are difficult to remember and even harder to implement when you are already in a state of anxiety.