Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

Is overthinking really that bad?

Is overthinking really that bad?

Overthinking seems to be a trait perceived as negative to many people. I agree with that too, but not completely.

We may view it negatively because there’s this idea that overthinking will not give us a solution because we get obsessed with replaying the problem in our head or presenting ourselves with the most idealistic solution. We let ourselves hope for the perfect solution without rationally thinking how impractical or unsound that solution is. This gets us stuck in this overthinking cycle because we’re not trying to understand the problem, we are judging it. This kind of overthinking isn’t productive, it doesn’t allow you to move forward.

If we spend too much time in this cycle, it could be destructive as it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. What if I tell you that overthinking can be a positive trait too? Here’s my not so secret strategy. I need to overthink in order for me to get myself out of the problem, however, (here’s the big but), I try to not get myself stuck in the cycle.

Think of it this way, overthinking provides the base for our problem-solving process. It is natural for our mind to overthink because it means that we care, and we are putting effort to fix a problem. Usually when we overthink, what we are thinking about is just the tip of the iceberg. We are looking at it from what is on the surface. We get stuck when we let anxiety creep in and put negative thoughts into our mind, inducing worry and fear, which puts us back into the cycle. Some people have believed that spending a lot of time thinking about something would allow them to come up with a solution, but having a productive mind is more important and might give us the solution faster.

So, what we should do is judge the problem first, and then move on to deep thinking or critical thinking, which is usually the part we find the hardest. Critical thinking helps us to understand a situation or a problem and it involves no judgement. As I said in my previous blogs, we should be inquisitive rather than presumptive or judgemental. We should try to analyse facts rather than assumptions, so we can understand a problem better. By eliminating our anxiety-based facts, we are already one step closer to getting out of the overthinking cycle. We get to see things as they are, which allows us to make rational decisions and to reach plausible solutions.

This skill to be able to think critically allows us to exercise our mind to understand difficult concepts and develop excellent problem-solving skills. This is different from just worrying about the problem, which clearly does not help. Critical thinking is intentional, controlled, rational and deliberate, which is the opposite of overthinking as it is more emotionally driven, chaotic, illogical and assumptive. Often people who are overthinking are driven by a sense of victimisation and they want to put the blame on other things or people. By being critical, we can look for a solution and closure, which allows us to move on than putting the blame on others, which prolongs the problem.

I think you can see why now I don’t think overthinking is completely bad. It all comes down to the way we perceive things and how willing we are to change our view of something negative to something positive.

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