What is “overthinking”? I have been overthinking my whole life, but it wasn’t until the past few years I realized how bad I do it. I now understand that anxiety and overthinking go hand in hand, like peanut butter & jelly, like pork & beans, like Cheech & Chong, well…..you get the point.
Let me give you an example. Have you ever sent a text to a friend, and two hours later you still haven’t received a response? If you have anxiety, you would have probably already talked yourself in to believing your friend intentionally didn’t respond because they were mad. They probably got upset with you when you had to cancel your dinner plans since you were sick. Or maybe it’s because they took it wrong when you were joking with them the other day. You would have yourself talked into believing that this friend will probably never speak to you again. Then an hour later your friend calls to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. They left their phone at home and just got the text. Now you feel silly because you realize it was all in your head and you got upset over nothing.
I have been accused of being able to twist anything someone says or does around to mean something else. My husband used to call me “the twister”. Now that I have learned about anxiety and overthinking, I realize that reading something into nothing is not simply twisting things around, it is a symptom of anxiety and part of overthinking. If my husband came home in a bad mood after work, I would think what I could have possibly done to make him mad at me. If he is keeping to himself and barely talking, it has to be me that he is mad at. Was it because of what I said to him the night before? Was it because I snapped at him earlier in the day when he called me? After convincing myself that it was something I did, he would tell me a story of what happened at work that has him all upset. The problem again, was that I was overthinking the situation.
Overthinking causes a lot of unnecessary stress. I have learned how to manage overthinking to a certain extent. When I start guessing why someone does something or why someone said what they said, I make myself stop and think for a minute. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I have learned to calmly ask the other person what is wrong. You can learn real quick what the problem is. The situation with my husband could have ended immediately if I just asked him what was wrong or about how his day was right away. I would have known he had a stressful day and then him being quiet wouldn’t make me wonder if he was mad at me for some reason.
Be proactive. Talk with your loved ones about your anxiety and what overthinking is. It isn’t just twisting things around because your trying to be difficult. It’s what we do sometimes and it can be hard to control. You may be surprised how much support you will receive. I think talking about it with my family has really made them understand, and they are able to recognize when I might need a little reassurance.