Carefully considering your actions is an important part of making good choices, but we've all been in those situations where we ended up dwelling on something longer than we should. It's helpful to watch out for signs that you overthink things too much, as all that ruminating could end up holding you back. Some thought is necessary, but other times you might find yourself reading too much into a situation that unnecessarily or spending too long making a decision when it's better off to just go with your instinct.
"Overthinking holds us back when 'paralysis by analysis' sets in," says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, PsyD over email. "This causes people to remain stuck at jobs, in unfulfilling relationships, and in negative loops of sabotaging self-talk. Overthinking is disconnection from your inner voice. Your inner voice tells you to take that dream job 1,000 miles away, but your fear leads to overthinking all the reasons why it won't work out."
It's still important to consider your options and make wise decisions, but you don't want your thoughts to end up hurting you. If you feel like you're spending too much time thinking about every aspect of your life, watch out for these 10 signs you're overthinking things too much that it's actually hurting you.
You Have Problems Making Decisions
If you have a hard time making decisions, whether it's deciding what to eat at a restaurant or what to do for your career, you're likely overthinking things. "Instead, pick something, and course correct as needed," says psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky over email.
You Ignore Your Instincts
"If you tend to ignore your gut instincts and make long pros and cons lists. it's likely you're overthinking it," says Odessky. "Take a look at the pros and cons, but let your gut chime in." Your intuition is a surprisingly accurate tool: Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that when participants of the study were forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, they made the right call up to 90 percent of the time.
You Constantly Ruminate
A clear sign you are overthinking is that you spend a lot of time ruminating (going over and over the same thing in your head) about things that have happened in the past. "You pick over situations and conversations in your brain that could have happened last night or perhaps several years ago, and yet you are still thinking about it," says psychologist Dr. Sarah Allen over email. "It is exhausting. You are wasting your emotional energy thinking about it and it can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained."
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