Signs that you're an overthinker

As an overthinker, I know firsthand what a double-edged sword it can be.

At times, it can feel like a blessing, while at others it can seem like a curse.

You're always proactive about everything so as to prevent any mishaps: setting three alarms in the morning so you don't oversleep, making sure your spouse charged his or her phone overnight so that you don't assume the worst if you don't hear from them, checking several times that you locked the front door before heading to work, overpreparing for meetings and presentations, and so on.

In other words, an overthinker's modus operandi is to minimize risk and avoid problems, which definitely keeps them out of trouble.

The problem is that overthinking can lead one to become very anxious, almost to the point of having a nervous breakdown.

There have been times where my wife has left her phone at home or on silent. When I dial her number and don't get a response, I continue to call incessantly until she picks up or calls me herself. It's not like her not to answer, so when her behavior deviates from the norm in this way, I worry that something bad may have happened.

Overthinkers tend to be indecisive, spending inordinate amounts of time weighing their options -- from which job to take to which person to date -- so they can make the most optimal decisions.

They also find it very hard to live in the moment, often ruminating on something that happened in the past or worrying over events that will take place in the future. I was always a nervous wreck in the weeks leafing up to the first day of school: Will I like my teacher? Will I like my classmates? Will the work be too hard? Will I fail?

Overthinkers also have very high expectations of themselves, as they do other people. We're hard on ourselves when something bad happens that we feel we could have done more to avoid, like getting a nail in a tire or not receiving a job offer.

We firmly believe -- almost to a fault -- that we can always will ourselves toward positive outcomes, and we feel very disappointed in ourselves when things don't pan out as we'd planned.

We also have a hard time accepting others' mistakes that adversely affect us in some way. Even if it's something that someone else might not find to be a big deal -- like spilling juice on your pants or falling asleep during the final minute of the Super Bowl -- we have a difficult time letting things go.

We always try to put our best foot forward and avoid missteps that might disappoint others, so we expect other people to act similarly. When our expectations aren't met, though, we put those who let us down in the doghouse for days, if not weeks. Indeed, letting things go is certainly not in our vocabulary, and we take our decisions -- like those of others -- very seriously.

As you can see, overthinkers can be compulsive and risk-averse, doing everything in their power to avoid making mistakes. When things aren't going smoothly, we can quickly implode unless we're careful.

It can be challenging for us to be positive when we're blaming ourselves or others for any unfavorable circumstances that may arise -- ones we do everything to prevent in the first place.

While some people may view overthinkers as highly responsible and diligent, others may find us to be perpetual worry warts. Truthfully, we're a combination of both.

Overthinkers have to accept the fact that things will not always go as planned. We can't prevent every hitch, every setback, every snag, every wrinkle. Part of growing as an individual is facing problems head-on and working toward resolving them. If we never confront challenges, we can never learn from experience.

Still, I think it's a good thing that overthinkers try their best not to get into dilemmas unnecessarily. At the very least, we can rest assured we'll never be blamed for not thinking before we act, which is something far too many people fall victim to.

Are you an overthinker, or do you know anyone who is?

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