If I met you in the street, I would have a perfectly normal seeming conversation with you, smile and chat, then we would part and you would not give a moments more consideration to the interaction.
I, however, I would spend the next few days agonizing over what I had said. Why did I say that? Why didn’t I ask more questions about you? Did I talk too much? Did I not talk enough? For I, dear reader, am a Chronic Overthinker.
If I have a Wedding to attend, for example, I will worry for, literally, months beforehand about who I might be sat next to at the table, and what I might possibly have to talk to them about. If I am at a meeting at work, I will practice my contribution in my mind over and over again before I build up the courage to share it with the group. I will avoid a local shop and go into a garage in order to avoid exchanging niceties with the owner. I can literally remember word for word a conversation with a colleague where she slightly misunderstood what I was trying to convey – it happened around 12 months ago. If my son has a playdate, my main concern is the conversation I might have to have with the child’s mother and all the opportunities it holds for me to say the wrong thing. If my mam is on holiday and I don’t hear from her for a few days I convince myself she is lying dead or dying in some farflung country.
This is utter nonsense of course, but so is the fate of the Chronic Overthinker. The most simple and mundane interactions becomes a source of intense scrutiny. It is utterly exhausting and of course, totally futile.I know that you are not giving me a moment’s thought, I know you are not replaying our conversation over and over in your mind thinking ,’why did she say that, what an utter loon!’ I AM NOT THAT IMPORTANT;but being a CO also makes you self-obsessed.
The worst part of being a CO is how it impacts on decision making, or rather lack of decision making. A Chronic Overthinker will run through every possible outcome of a situation, always of course dwelling on the worst case scenario. Don’t ever ask an Overthinker ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ because they have considered every possible ramification, ending only with complete devastation and catastrophe. They become paralysed by indecision, terrified of making the wrong choice. I have maintained the status quo for so long in my working life because I was utterly terrified of making a bad decision and being in a worse position than I currently was. Turns out making no decision was the wrong decision – you end up in the same place you always were, just with a few more grey hairs.
One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was tired of thinking so much. And do you know, I have actually started thinking less since I started writing. Well, not thinking less, but overthinking less. I am not spending my time agonising over trivial interactions because I have something more productive to think about. I am doing something. And I am so much happier, and, generally, less anxious. I can’t keep up with my mind as it ticks over all my ideas and plans.
So my advice for my fellow Overthinkers. Do Something. Do Anything. Just Do It.
*Disclaimer. Please don’t quit your job or leave your husband based on the ill-conceived ramblings of some woman on the Internet. Give it a little more thought.