Overthinking is something that introverts and HSPs are really good at. It’s one of our specialties. Give us any situation and we can go crazy overanalyzing it and thinking about it from all possible angles. Telling us to stop thinking so much would be like trying to tell us to stop breathing. It’s just what we do.
Having a tendency to overthink things is great if you’re in a creative writing class and you have to come up with possible scenarios for what might happen to a character in a story. But . . . it’s not always so great when it comes to real life.
Unfortunately, about 99% of the time our overthinking tends to go in a negative direction. We overanalyze all of the “what ifs?” or we read too closely into someone’s tone of voice or expression and worry that they might be upset with us.
Why Overthinking Can Be A Good Thing
Overthinking can be a really good thing in certain situations. When it comes to making decisions, both introverts and HSPs are careful to consider all the possibilities and to look at things from different angles. Our natural tendency is to think things through and to observe first before jumping into action.
Overthinking is what helps to keep us from making impulsive decisions or saying something we might regret later. (Not that we’re immune to doing these things, but the fact that we think so much beforehand makes is less likely.)
The problem usually comes in when our overthinking goes into overdrive. When we can’t turn it off and we end up thinking about every. little. possible. detail. That’s when we need to try to find ways to manage our overthinking to make it work for us rather than against us.
How to Use Overthinking to Your Advantage
Since we’re so good at overthinking things and analyzing all of the little details, and since it’s something that comes to automatically to us, the best way we can use that tendency to our advantage is to think about the positive possibilities.
Since part of overthinking includes analyzing things from many different angles and perspectives, we need to make sure that we’re also including positive perspectives in the mix too. Rather than focusing only on the negative possibilities and getting completely lost in them, we can make our overthinking tendency work for us by thinking about what might happen if something positive were to happen instead.
Even if our minds automatically jump to the negative possibilities first: (“What if I made the wrong decision? What if I regret it later?” Or “She didn’t sound very happy to see me when she said ‘hi’ earlier. Is she upset with me?”), the key is for us to flip that around and try to analyze the situation from the opposite angle: (“What if this ends up being one of the best decisions I’ve every made? I might end up being so happy I made this choice!” Or “Maybe she was just tired or distracted by something else going on in her life and that’s why she seemed different today.”)
We can use our overthinking “superpowers” to start asking ourselves some questions to get more clarity:
“Do I really know this, or am I just assuming it?”
“Is there a possibility that I might be reading more significance into this than there really is?”
“Is there just as much of a chance that something good will happen instead?”
“Is is possible that that person’s reaction didn’t actually have anything to do with me and it was about something else?”
“What if things actually turn out they way that I hope they will? What if good things end up coming out of this decision?”
Since it’s so natural for us to start overthinking in a negative direction, we have to try to stop ourselves as soon as we can and start asking some positive “what ifs?” instead. We can help ourselves to have a more balanced frame of mind by turning those negatives around and thinking about some of the better things that could possibly happen.
It’s a lot easier said than done sometimes, but the more we try to get into the habit of flipping things around to look at a more positive angle, the more natural it will become and the more quickly we’ll be able to catch ourselves and make that switch in perspective.