The World Needs More Overthinkers

photo courtesy of Unsplash, Tachina Lee

Thinking has gotten a bad rap. If you do a lot of it, which you know you do, you’re called an overthinker. And that’s something you’re supposed to avoid.

Personally, I know people who are under-thinkers. I bet you do, too. Don’t you just wish those under-thinkers would overthink once in a while? I know I do.

Granted, you can think so much that you get super anxious. You can think so much that you don’t score well on multiple choice tests because you can explain why all of the choices are correct. You can think so much that you never finish painting your bedroom. You can think so much that you don’t have time to sleep. You can think so much that you forget to tie your shoes.

Too much thinking can become a problem. We know this.

But, honey, you’re kinda stuck with it. It’s how your brain works. Your big brain is very very active. All of the time. So, for you, it’s not overthinking. It’s just thinking. Or being. It’s curiosity. Analysis. Wondering. Creating. It’s the quest for the holy grail.

It’s you being you.

And yet, your colleagues, friends, relatives, partners, teachers, therapists and maybe even your children would like you to STOP THINKING SO MUCH.

Yeah. I get it.

And maybe you also tell yourself to stop thinking so much.

I think you need to rethink thinking.

And, of course, find ways to take care of yourself when your thoughts turn into anxiety or paralysis or sleeplessness. Give yourself permission to self-soothe. Whatever that looks like for you. If you need some ideas, try this post on anxiety and this one on worry.

But don’t stop “over”thinking, wondering, creating, and analyzing. Seeking the holy.

Being. You.

________________________

To my bloggEEs: Have you been accused of overthinking? When is it a problem for you? How is it beneficial? Do you have a way to explain it to others? Thank you for sharing your feelings, experiences and complexities. All are welcome here.

You can find more posts on this topic from the fabulous bloggers with hoagiesgifted.org. Click on the graphic.


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

56 responses to “The World Needs More Overthinkers”

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  1. Why Do We Need A Blog For Super Smart, Sensitive, Creative, and Empathetic (Gifted!) People? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] have a hard time determining if you are an overthinker, like they say you are, or if you are just a deep, analytical, divergent thinker who is extremely […]


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    […] analytical thinking that comes naturally and is beneficial and that people, including you, call overthinking. It is not over. It is not under. It is just your style of thinking. You will distinguish this from […]


  3. Do You Feel Like Too Much and Not Enough at the Same Time? You May Have a Rainforest Mind. | Puttylike

    […] may have been told any or all of the following: You question too much. You read too much. You think too much. You feel too much. You talk too much. You research too much. You do too much. You know too […]


  4. Why Do You Need To Know You Have A Rainforest Mind? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] You are a big thinker. A deep thinker. A constant thinker. An analytical and creative thinker. Some might call you an overthinker. […]


  5. Gifted In Finland — What Are Gifted Adults Like Across Cultures? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] accused of overthinking when it is actually deep, analytical, creative awareness, and curiosity. An extremely active mind. […]


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    […] Overthinking, Anxiety, and […]


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    […] empaths, scientists, healers, researchers, seekers, philosophers, perfectionists, intuitives, and overthinkers, now more than ever. Don’t you agree? We need the people who stand up for justice, honesty, […]


  8. Music To Soothe Your Worried Sensitive Soul | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] pandemic experience has you seriously discombobulated. Your ruminating (not to be confused with overthinking) may be taking over. For so many good reasons. And, smart person that you are, you might feel […]


  9. Realizing That You Are Gifted — Will It Make a Difference? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] explains why people label you an overthinker. To them, you are thinking too much. But it comes naturally to you. And, yes, if you are super […]


  10. “Beam Me Up, Scotty.” Social Responsibility and Your Super Smart, Sensitive Soul | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Sensitivity. Extreme Empathy. Pressure. Expectations. Overthinking. Perfectionism. Intuition. Loneliness. Social responsibility. Bad Hair […]


  11. Some of My Best Friends Are Introverted, Sensitive, Introspective, Smart, Empathetic, Overthinking, Perfectionists | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] also love “overthinking” perfectionists who obsess about creating a better world through raising the consciousness of […]


  12. What Do Political Activism, Giftedness, and Your Dysfunctional Family Have in Common? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] rainforest mind is often thinking or overthinking or maybe even obsessing about changing the world. Perhaps you were told that because you’re […]


  13. Dealing with Anxiety When You Are a Highly Sensitive Overthinker* | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] big things and all of the things in between. You could create a very long list. Your capacity for super-thinking and your vast imagination, enormous empathy, and non-stop brain has already added 14 items to your […]


  14. How To Deal With Under-Thinkers When You’re An Over-Thinker | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] been called an over-thinker. You never. stop. thinking. Deep, wide, fast thinking comes naturally to your rainforest mind. You […]


  15. 100percentem Avatar
    100percentem

    I really like this post, I love your take on it. I am a major overthinker, even called neurotic on occasion, it can cause me to worry and create situations in my mind that aren’t happening, but it can also help me, help to work my emotional self out or realise why I do certain things or why others do them. my own voice is my constant companion, sometimes I need to just shut that voice up and take a deep breath, but that voice also is my main supporter.

    🙂


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, all that thinking isn’t always helpful and deep breathing can be a good idea. That said, deep fast thinking is very much a part of having a rainforest mind. Thank you for sharing.


  16. Thomas Avatar
    Thomas

    I am so happy I stumbled upon this blog today. It is incredible how much a “rainforest mind” describes me and the internal issues I have dealt with for my whole life. However, I am in the process of studying for my state’s bar exam and am having a world of trouble with the multiple choice section. My overthinking keeps getting in the way of getting the correct answers and I can’t help but get down on myself for not meeting the goals my study program set out for me. Coming across your website has been a pretty great mood booster, now I just need to figure out how to not overthink when answering the multiple choice questions in order to get the desired answer.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad you’ve found us, Thomas! Just in time, it seems, so you’re not pathologizing your “over”thinking but understanding it. It can be hard to think more simply so that you see multiple choice answers more clearly. But you don’t have to get down on yourself now! Thank you for sharing.


  17. How Can You Be Too Much And Not Enough At The Same Time? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] question too much. You read too much. You think too much. You feel too much. You talk too much. You research too much. You do too much. You know too […]


  18. jonnahayden Avatar
    jonnahayden

    Sometimes “overthinking” is a sign that I’ve not been feeding my brain enough to “do”…it’ll wander off and chew on the nearest bone relentlessly if I don’t give it a decent meal of *something* to puzzle over, and it’ll take over all the regular processes in that pursuit of something interesting to gnaw on. My thinking processes are a gift that’ll keep on taking if I don’t tend to it’s needs. Knowing that, and seeing it as a need that has to be nourished means I can help myself “overthink” in a healthy way.


  19. alawrenceg Avatar
    alawrenceg

    I agree. Why has thinking gotten a bad rap?


  20. Emily VR Avatar
    Emily VR

    I love this so much (along with all of your posts!). Thank you for your wise reassurance. I especially love your point about underthinking (yes!!). Thank you! <3


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Emily. I always enjoy seeing what you have to say. Loving you back!


  21. FredB Avatar
    FredB

    If it’s worth thinking, it’s worth overthinking.

    I think about what’s there and while most people stop there, I go on to think about what isn’t there and why, like Sherlock Holmes.

    Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
    Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
    Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

    The dog wouldn’t bark at someone who belonged there, limiting the case (Silver Blaze) to a handful of suspects.

    There are times you just need to put your brain into overthink.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ha! Yes, Fred. “…put your brain into overthink.” Most definitely.


  22. Genealogy Jen Avatar
    Genealogy Jen

    Thank you Paula for pointing out the benefit and positive part of having a Rainforest Mind. I love that you encourage us to embrace all parts of who we are. I agree that there are entirely too many people who under think.

    It is especially difficult if they are “hypothetically” family members closely related to your husband, and you have to interact with them a lot. You know? When they come to your house to visit their grandchildren? And tell you that you think too much? I’ve heard that can be especially challenging. Hypothetically.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Jen. Especially challenging!!! Hypothetically, of course. Sending hypothetical hugs. 🙂


  23. Godefroy Avatar
    Godefroy

    Great post! Maybe I’m a bit off topic, but along with over-thinking comes the realization that others don’t necessarily go through the same process.

    If you’re playing 3D chess while everyone is playing tic-tac-toe, you’re more often than not running circles around yourself thinking about contingencies and weighting possibilities no one else is even considering.

    It was a big realization for me to grasp that others can’t read my mind. Let me explain before this gets misconstrued. I’ve always finished people sentences with ease once I understand their thought process and I’m usually able to bring it to its logical conclusion faster than the person who currently formulating it as they’re talking. The more logical the person, the easiest it is. I’ve always assumed that everyone could easily do the same, and that I was so transparent everyone could tell what I was thinking pretty much all the time. Not so much! So much effort spent trying to preserve my inner privacy while such complicated schemes either made me completely obvious or excessively cryptic while making me oblivious to what is actually going on…

    Then again, I’m probably overthinking this…


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Love the 3D chess versus tic-tac-toe analogy, Godefroy. I think we often don’t realize that what’s easy for us may not be as easy for everyone else. Thanks for sharing your examples.


  24. Jen Merrill Avatar
    Jen Merrill

    I just want to turn my brain off most days. Or at least mute so I can hear my own thoughts…if that makes sense. 😉


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Jen. Nice to see you here. Not sure I quite get that…turning off or muting your brain to hear your own thoughts. Fascinating. Whose thoughts are in your brain??


      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Jen, maybe it’s your very busy life taking care of family and your empathy that overwhelms you so that you have trouble finding your self?


      2. Jen Merrill Avatar
        Jen Merrill

        LOL! Yeah, I guess that didn’t make a whole lot of sense out of my head. 😉 Hard to parse out IN my head, for that matter.

        I think what I’m trying to say is that I overthink to the point that I can’t think. I’m constantly thinking or worrying or mentally working out concerns that I have a hard time concentrating. It’s a HUGE reason why I’m struggling with writing right now; my writing voice is buried beneath the all the worries and thinking about homeschooling/running a household/teaching flute/the state of the world/being a wife and mother and friend and colleague/my future…you name it.


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Ah, yes! Now I get it! Yes, that DOES make sense.


          1. Jen Merrill Avatar
            Jen Merrill

            I keep thinking I want the world to JUST STOP for a few days, just hold up, I have a rock in my shoe or something. But it’s not really the world, it’s my mind. And there is no pause or mute button on that sucker. The irony is that writing IS that pause/mute button and I can’t dig to that voice right now because reasons. 🙁


            1. Paula Prober Avatar
              Paula Prober

              But, good to know what the pause/mute button is and that it’s there waiting for you. Yes?


    2. Genealogy Jen Avatar
      Genealogy Jen

      Oh, Jen … If you find a mute button let me know where to find it!


  25. Lucinda Leo Avatar
    Lucinda Leo

    I love this post so much, Paula. What a delicious breath of fresh air. Thank you – once again – for reminding us that it’s okay to be us. ☺️


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re welcome, Lucinda. Always good to hear from you.


  26. Nimue Brown Avatar
    Nimue Brown

    A world of yes to this. Thinking about things deeply is such a joy (sometimes, less so when happening obsessively late at night, I grant you). And under thinkers – we really need to tackle the people who don’t bother to think about things and then act randomly… nothing but trouble. the world needs more thinking in it!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, Nimue. More deep joyful thinking would be beneficial to all! Good to hear from you. Thank you.


  27. Mark Avatar
    Mark

    I’m often an over-thinker.
    Sometimes that gets me in trouble.

    I’m often an under-thinker (often known by the trendy label “living in the now”).
    Sometimes that gets me in trouble too.

    I guess I’m just a troublemaker.

    A very intense boat-rocking, wave-making, undisciplined daydreaming, ruminating, over-analyzing, inconvenient-truth-seeking – in a world of alternative facts and mindless positive mindfulness – chronic over-thinker.

    I guess that’s OK. Thanks for the reminder Paula.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Love that description, Mark. Over and under-thinking. Ha!


      1. Mark Avatar
        Mark

        I first got into exploring New Age and Eastern-style spirituality long before “being present” became a household expression. It took me a few years before I realized that some of the “bad” expressions of my ADHD (particularly impulsivity, which is classic “under-thinking”), could be seen as “good” if they were simply interpreted as “living in the moment”. haha


  28. Aurora Remember Holtzman Avatar
    Aurora Remember Holtzman

    Thanks Paula, I always appreciate your posts! Some of the best people I know are overthinkers and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d definitely prefer a few less sleepless nights, but I can’t complain too much because it’s usually excitement that keeps me up rather than worry these days!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Excitement, so much better than worry! Thanks for commenting. By the way, you’re doing a great job with your podcasts!


  29. Jessie Avatar
    Jessie

    As always, you nailed it, Paula. Thanks for calling out the good side of this kind of mind! You always do provide a good sanity check. “Well, I can think of good things about overthinking, too…but maybe I’m just fooling myself!” (You know…by thinking too much. 😉


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Jessie. I enjoyed reading your post, too. (readers see the link above) It was fun to follow your complex thought process as you wrote. Such a rainforest mind!


      1. Jessie Avatar
        Jessie

        Why, thank you, Paula. I’m honored! 🙂


  30. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Paula, I really like your comments about underthinkers… Yes, we see a lot of them, especially these days, but, oops, I shouldn’t get political here! Anyway,great points. You do justice to the benefits of thinking and the fact that many overthinkers are just wired that way and have to adjust without letting it get overwhelming. And they need to learn to enjoy it.


    1. ummyaqub Avatar
      ummyaqub

      That made me giggle! =) Thinking is an amazing thing, a gift, being able to think things through seems the most obvious and logical and useful and pleaurable thing to do, unless, it is caught up in ‘not so much …’. I hate to hurry my thinking, I know whenever I’m forced to make a ‘snap’ decision, I’ll very likely regret it, and that my next thoughts and so on, will be much more reflective of where/what I actually really mean/think/like/dislike etc… To be told I overthink for me feels like an insult, it is often how I have self treated some touugh experiences. And, how I’ve problem solved and created. Paula, I love your sharing always. =) Gail, thank you for sharing the humour. Politics is I think the reason that people fear ‘Thinkers’…


      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Yes, I do think folks can feel insulted when they’re criticized for “over” thinking when they’re just doing something that comes so naturally and is, in fact, having a deeper level of analytical ability!


    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Gail. I hear you! Your post on this topic was so comprehensive and helpful. (and can be found if readers click on the link above)


  31. morningcoffee Avatar
    morningcoffee

    Yes. This is such a pet peeve of mine! People usually use the term “over analyze” with me. I say there is no such thing. You can only analyze a thing until there is nothing left to be analyzed. Most people miss so many things because they do not analyze enough. I always differentiate that from worry and anxiety although it can be a fine line. Analysis and exploration are always moving in new directions. They may come back to the same place sometimes to check to see if they really have exhausted all the possibilities. Anxiety and worry are repetitive and circular thinking.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing your take on the idea, morningcoffee. Glad to hear from you!


  32. helenjnoble Avatar
    helenjnoble

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble.

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