Are You Overthinking Or Are They Just Underthinking?

Are you often accused of overthinking? Do people tell you that you ought to be more chill and less analytical? More easy-going and less demanding? More go-with-the flow and less insightful? More quiet and less noisy? More dull and less sharp?

That’s what I thought.

All I can say is, please, do not stop *over*thinking. Because the truth is, for you, it is simply thinking. It is not over. It is not excessive. It is not obsessive. You are a deep, analytical, philosophical, creative, sensitive, socially responsible human. So you THINK. A LOT. And I, for one, am grateful.

It is better than underthinking.

I realize, of course, your vast thinking capacity might morph into worry or more specifically, rumination. If that is the case, then, yes, finding ways to reduce your anxiety would be important. But that is not the same as your curiosity, your wonder, your drive to learn everything about everything.

Just so we’re clear.

For rumination, there are a number of tools and techniques. You are probably aware of some of them as *self-care* is now a thing. There are many relaxation and mindfulness apps. A client recently told me about Wild Journey. Another told me about Sleep Stories on the Calm app because sleeping is often tricky when you have an active rainforest mind. One client plays Animal Crossing at night to decompress. If you are an extreme ruminator, I recommend The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Bourne. Of course, there are the usual activities such as deep breathing, yoga, warm baths, and music. It can also help to look into food sensitivities, hormones, and allergies. (Acupuncture, anyone?) If there is trauma in your background, your worry is likely influenced by all sorts of potential triggers. In that case, therapy would be a good option, along with journal writing. There are more ideas in this post.

Because you are also socially responsible and aware, it is likely some of your worry is existential and related to real events here on planet earth. I am particularly concerned about the climate crisis and injustice. There are more and more organizations working on climate. I recently found this interview and the book Radical Regeneration: Sacred Activism and the Renewal of the World by Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker. On justice issues, there is Bryan Stevenson, Rachel Cargle, and others.

And, by the way, for you, self-care includes getting intellectual stimulation! Yes, indeed. In fact, if you keep your bright mind more engaged, you might also do less worrying. So, how about that? More thinking might lead to less ruminating! Have you heard of Masterclass? Nerd heaven. Am I right?

And so, my darlings, stay analytical, demanding, insightful, noisy, and sharp! Keep *over*thinking. It is way better than the alternative.


To my bloggEEs: Tell us your stories about *over*thinking. And, thank you, as always, for being here, for your comments, and your love notes fan mail! Sending you much love and appreciation.

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.

30 responses to “Are You Overthinking Or Are They Just Underthinking?”

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  1. Understanding Your Rainforest Mind – Guiding Gifted Adults – The Video! – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] After my introduction, I cover a number of topics including, sensitivities, multipotentiality, overthinking, impostor syndrome, perfectionism, spirituality, social responsibility, and more. With each topic, […]

  2. Mia Avatar

    The group wasn’t growing so is now deleted.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thanks for letting us know, Mia. So sorry it didn’t grow.

  3. pprober Avatar

    It occurred to me that there might be an occasion to use the expression “overthinking” when you are taking a test. You might make the test question more complicated than it actually is. You might score poorly on tests because you “overthink” the questions. Right? You may not realize that the questioner is asking a question that is so simple to you, that you unintentionally make it more complicated! Has anyone had that happen?

    1. Neeraj Avatar

      it depends on the type of question. If it is “closed end” question…and the respondent ( i.e. say me) knows that it is a closed end question….then I think most of the time, I will try to zero in on finite answer…..thus would not supposedly overthink ( complex thinking I do, but it is in the background, and the expressed answer will still be finite thus the one who asks question would not get overwhelmed) ….Especially, I like multiple choice closed end questions …as one do not have to explain the underlying thought process and just give the answer…
      But if question is open ended one…and then if one is expressing whatever one thought about the question…and then in such instance if response appears as if it is too much thinking to the examiner…then it is the JUDGEMENT that has been passed by the examiner..and it is not my fault I feel…

    2. Baru Avatar

      Happening to me all the time! Sometimes the question feels „poorly worded“ and/or vague (thus I see several possible readings), other times I just don’t believe in the question. I’m lucky to have quite understanding teachers at college – as long as I can prove I have sufficient knowledge of the subject, they accept my answers and let me pass.

      I managed to accept my overthinking as part of me (been easier with overthinking friends!). (Still, there are those evil yes/no questions – and assignments I spend too much time on.)

      1. pprober Avatar

        Oh! Those “evil yes/no questions.” The worst! 🙂 And not believing in the question. Thank you Baru!

  4. Neeraj Avatar

    I can think very complex long thoughts, for quite a long time, containing a lot of details… ( I also sometimes can experience thoughtless state…or minimal thought state ..for 2-3 hours..but that is other matter)
    But I shy away from categorizing those thoughts as overthinking. Or those thoughts are not “paralysis of analysis”…
    I most often can eventually bring forth small or large actionable item based on those thoughts that can be implemented…
    Over the time I have become quite tolerant of my complex long thoughts as I know about gifted adult construct.

    (Having said this, I would not say that I do not have repetitive annoying thoughts…. but that too is other matter.)
    As per as complex long thoughts which are the gift ( due to intellectual giftedness)….those are quite helpful…and quite I am tolerant of those thoughts

    1. pprober Avatar

      This is a good example of what I’m saying, Neeraj. Important to differentiate between the ‘complex long thoughts’ and the ‘repetitive annoying thoughts.’ The intellectual analysis/creativity versus the anxiety/fears.

      1. Neeraj Avatar

        also even when I am having good type of complex thoughts…I am not calm…I am quite agitated internally….as the matters at hand are UNRESOLVED…I can remain agitated so for quite long time…as I have opened up the pandora’s box from the mind.
        But I tolerate that …
        Free writing…or other activities would eventually help resolve the agitation…and I calm down..and try to get the gist of what was bothering me…
        Is there hard distinction between anxiety provoking thoughts and such agitation…I don’t know.
        It is always better to tolerate that…and try to go through it..resolve it…

        1. pprober Avatar

          It might be interesting to examine the different types of anxiety people with rainforest minds experience. Perhaps it is more intense or multi-dimensional than the average person. And then look at what particular tools and techniques work to calm and soothe their highly sensitive nervous systems and their very active minds. Thank you for sharing, Neeraj.

  5. pprober Avatar

    Good luck with this, Mia! I hope it works out well for all.

    1. Mia Avatar

      Thank you, Paula!

  6. Robin Heinen Avatar
    Robin Heinen

    A superior recently told me I should be more resilient, instead of always worrying and overthinking. I think I deliver quality exactly because I do this…

    1. pprober Avatar

      Maybe that person is not so “superior.” 🙂

      1. Robin Heinen Avatar
        Robin Heinen

        Haha. Next time I’ll tell them that 🤣🤣.

  7. Marina Avatar

    Thank you Paula for this beautiful post! No chance I will ever stop overthinking, though, so thank you very much for the encouragement to continue!
    When I overthink, fret or worry (less ruminations these days, I admit), my husband helps me through showing me a light attitude and using lots of humour. He calls me “l’excitée de service” which means “the excited one on duty”! And we both laught at it, at it really helps me to accept the overthinking as being part of my personality (and that it’s quite alright to overthink). By the way, he thinks alot, too, so we often think (overthink?) together!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Glad you have a partner to think with, Marina. (and laugh with!)

  8. Me Avatar

    overthinking…. it has always been some kind of an insult being thrown at me. Thank you, Paula, for putting it into a different context.
    I am ruminating a lot, hell of a lot! What I found recently that I am lacking stimulation, my RFM is desperate for it. But I find it very hard to find…. might be hormonal changes jumping in the way as well… I will keep searching.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Yup. Keep searching!

  9. Jennifer Avatar

    Aftera lifetime of doubting myself and now beginning to get in touch with who I really am in the past few years, I had started to realise this. so much of the world seems to underthink or doesn’t think (for whatever reason)… It’s definitely not a weakness! But yes, separating the ruminating out is also helpful.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.

  10. Elle Avatar

    Rumination, gah. I’ve been doing that a lot lately and I get stuck in maladaptive loops. Escapism or self-care consists of making digital collages in place of doomscrolling. I even use this site as a springboard of sorts. I made a “mind palace” collage based on the term used in a previous post. Of course, I made a rainforest collage too. This site and you, Paula, get me. Thank you. I always look forward to reading your posts.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh! A mind palace collage. What a great idea. I may have to put it in my journaling book! 🙂 Thank you, Elle.

  11. Nancy Graham Avatar
    Nancy Graham

    Hi Paula. Thank you. This is very timely for me. I had Open Heart surgery in June to replace my Aortic Valve and repair an Aneurysm on my Thoracic Aorta. I had a lot of complications—A LOT. Of course I need to know what is happening and why. How does this connect to that? And, the more I know the better I can take care of myself and relax! If I am not given an explanation, it is not good. I MUST understand. Of course, most of the doctors just want me to take what they prescribe and see them later. Noooooo, not me. Why am I taking this, what can I expect? When do I start to be concerned and call you? Unfortunately, many doctors and nurses and even therapists have interpreted this as obsession. I’m sure they think, “She will never be able to understand anyway.”. Oooooh, yes I will! I remember when I had my IQ tested, the doctor told me that out of 100 people in a room, I would be the “smartest” (sorry not the most accurate way to say it, but…) and that I would be smarter than my doctors, my lawyers, etc. that was enlightening, yet a little depressing. When it is up to me to save my own life, you can bet I won’t worry about how I might be judged.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Good for you, Nancy. It is especially important in medical situations to speak up. And, of course, you had loads of questions!

  12. Gayle Lawrence Avatar
    Gayle Lawrence

    For some of the younger Rainforest Minds still exploring to find the most ideal career life path that works for you. Fortunately I found mine 23 years ago when I birthed my own specialty private group travel business. I’ve always been a traveler and a natural organizer, anal about details, exploring every possible snafu that could possibly happen on an international trip etc. My business is where I can naturally use all my HSP skills and over-think, analyze, question, talk with several destination tour operators and ask questions and gather details to my heart’s desire! My clients appreciate my laser-focused attention to detail and using all of my acute sensitivities in planning their trip and being on top of every aspect of their adventure.. They usually recognize, they can’t do what I do nearly as well as I do it!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thanks for this example, Gayle!

    2. Nimue Avatar

      Finding other people who practice intense thinking and then doing that in a collective way has turned out to be rather wonderful on many different levels.

      1. pprober Avatar

        So glad you are finding others, Nimue!

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