Why should you stop overthinking?

As per Wikipedia overthinking is defined as -“Analysis paralysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome”.

” To think too much is a disease” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground and the Double. 

Thinking about a situation that you have faced or you might face in near future, assuming all the possible outcomes and responses is overthinking. Assuming everything that doesn’t seem to happen in reality makes you unnecessarily tired, insecure and scared about your future. Thinking about what you have to do or what you would have or could have done in any situation makes the present situation even more complicated.

Just like the case of a  game of chess, in which the player has to think about each and every possible situation and proceed with caution, with the best possible move to win the game, Overthinking forces us to think about each and everything. It includes every possible situation that we might face in the future or anything that we have already experienced, i.e. situations, where we could have or would have reacted in some better or different manner. Thinking of all the things that you could have done and been thinking of more ways in which you could have reacted and forced the situation to some other conclusion occupies your mind.

Overthinking includes two thoughts primarily, thinking of the past and thinking about the near future. Most of the time it is related to your past, where you have already taken some decisions, and after a period, when your brain is free, you start thinking that whether what you did was right or not.  could you have done something better? how will the current situation change if you would have responded in some other fashion? Whether taking more time or judging the options from some other point would have created a better present. Moreover, it also includes that whether you have included all the options to their full extent, even a small fault in our assumptions and decision-making process could create a whole lot of mental pressure and regret.

The other scenario is when you have to take some decision in the near future, and you start thinking about it. Thinking is good, judging all the options available, will open up your mind towards the right choice. But getting obsessed with these thoughts will just ruin everything, soon you will start imagining situations which are almost not going to happen in any case. You will make up all the possibilities that are probable, nothing, whether they are possible or not, will matter at that time.

This is the time when it becomes bad for mental health. And not only mental health, but slowly it will start affecting your lifestyle and physical health also. The basic question is how can thinking be a problem? Its answer lies in the process. Thinking is good, but getting obsessed is not good. Everyone wishes to use his brain to its maximum capacity and to sharpen the thinking capabilities we need to practice. Thinking provides mental exercise, but overthinking is too much workout for the brain. Feeling insecure about things will also cause your brain to just start thinking whatever it wants, creating the imaginary situation and imagining our and others reaction in such situations.

In this process, of thinking, we create a situation which is totally weird and most of them exist only in theory. It is common to assume our behavior, but it becomes harmful when we start presuming others behavior, expectations and assumptions also come in. Confidence in own beliefs and decisions causes trust issues, trust ever ourselves and others decrease.

Anthony Hopkins says,  ” We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. You can never trust the human and anyways it is a death trap”.

Jayson Engay says, “Don’t get too deep, it leads to overthinking and overthinking leads to a problem that doesn’t even exists in the first place”.

Thinking over and over again about the same situation is not going to help in any case. Whatever happened is already over. When it comes about the future, thinking is good, taking a positive attitude is necessary, but due to Overthinking lots of negative thoughts comes in, which causes you to question yourself. Due to these thoughts, we are unable to adopt an unbiased view towards any situation and are unable to reach some valid and useful conclusion. which option is good depends on the situation but due to overthinking we have already created a negative image of each and every option available. So whenever we try to summarise our thoughts and reach a conclusion we are more moved towards the negative side than the positive aspect, and there is no useful result.

Amy Morion, a clinical social worker and a psychotherapist says about “how to stop overthinking”-

  1. Notice when you are overthinking –  Start paying attention to the way you think.
  2. Challenge your thoughts –  Learn to recognize and replace thinking errors before they work you into a complete frenzy.
  3. Keep the focus on active problem solving – Dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful, but looking for solutions is.
  4. Schedule time for reflection – Stewing on problems for long periods of time isn’t productive, but brief reflection can be helpful.
  5. Practice mindfulness – Commit to becoming more aware of the here and now.
  6. Change the channel – Telling yourself to stop thinking about something can backfire.



Auras Anand is a B.Tech Electrical Engineering student at IIT Kanpur. He is interested in gaining knowledge about things, anything which piques his interest including psychological issues, The Constitution, biographies and even IPC and CRPC. He likes to do sketches as well as play chess and solve puzzles.

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