Imagine that you have to make an important decision in your life: what career to study, where to buy a house, end a relationship, have children or not. What is your attitude towards this decision making? Are you one of those who thinks about it for a few days and then ventures out hoping for the best? Or maybe you are one of those who spend months analyzing, gathering information, asking questions, reflecting and spending sleepless nights before announcing your final choice?
Although we have been taught that we must exercise restraint before making decisions, falling to the extreme is not always good and The disadvantages of thinking too much can befall usleaving us trapped in inaction.
- Related article: “5 ways of thinking that can limit your mind”
Disadvantages of thinking too much
Being analytical and reflective is helpful in decision making. People with these characteristics usually have the quality of visualizing different possible scenarios; But when these qualities become excessive, the disadvantages of thinking too much become present. These are the main ones.
Thinking too much causes an accumulation of worries. After a new thought, a new anxiety appears. However, these thoughts and anxieties are only in the imagination, they are possible circumstances that will occur if X or Y happens but they do not yet exist in reality and even so they have already generated fear of what could happen.
Prospecting all the possible scenarios surrounding a situation can be useful and helps to envision the panorama and take action accordingly. The problem is that each situation can generate concern that becomes overwhelming.
2. Excessive worry about the future
Should I choose to study medicine or law? If I choose medicine I must consider that I will spend many years in school and perhaps in the end I will not find a job and I will be alone because I will not have had time to spend time with friends and meet someone to marry; Or it may happen that I become a successful doctor and earn a lot of money, but then I will have to think about moving to another city and that may take me away from my loved ones. If, on the other hand, I am inclined to study law, it could happen that I get involved in dangerous matters while pursuing my career or that I can do social work and help people who need it, but then I will not have the money to survive and have a family.
In the end it is very likely that you will have to decide on one career or the other, but having imagined everything that can happen already It permeated the mood, filling us with doubts and worries. Even if you choose a different profession, there will still be excessive doubts and fear due to having spent too much time thinking about what may happen.
For this reason, all the worries that arise during the exhaustive analysis of a situation give rise to one of the disadvantages of overthinking that people with these characteristics can face: the difficulty in putting a limit on forecasts.
3. Falling into inaction or “paralysis by analysis”
As we have seen, there are decisions that have an “expiration time”. There comes a time when you have to choose. When a person who thinks too much is faced with that moment, he may lean towards one option of the many he thought about, and even with doubt or fear or tormenting yourself about whether it will be the best choice, in the end you will have to have made a decision.
But there are situations that do not require a specific date or time to act. There is no external social pressure, and even if there is, somehow it can be postponed. Even situations in which it is precisely analyzed whether or not it should be carried out. In these cases, decision-making can be extended as infinite scenarios and worries and anguish about what may happen appear.
It is in this inaction where creative, family and professional projects are cut short.. That business that excites us but that we are not sure will work, we leave suspended in the form of hypotheses, and we get lost in vague ideas that we think and think without reaching anything. The trip that we have dreamed of for years but we don’t know if we will be able to make it. Moving to that city or country that always makes us excited and where we have been offered work but in which we are not sure that we will adapt…
Although action must be accompanied by reflection, we must be very careful not to fall into the disadvantages of overthinking that leave us paralyzed and without taking action.
For these reasons we must understand that establishing plans is only one phase of the process, and stopping there for too long can bring us more frustration and anguish than the satisfaction of giving action to our thoughts to make way for the learning and experience that it gives us. carry out our plans.
- Related article: “‘Analysis paralysis’; when overthinking becomes a problem”
4. Perfectionism and exacerbated self-demand
It is also good to recognize that thinking too much is also good. It is useful for the planning phase of any project, it is enriching in the debate of ideas, in the structuring of critical thinking, the analysis of proposals… obviously in the elaboration of hypotheses and investigations and in daily life itself to have a A broad overview of possible scenarios is helpful in decision making.
The problem with overthinking is when this is combined with fear, perfectionism and self-demand, leaving us unable to make an election and postponing it for no other reason than “I’m still thinking about it” because there is no date that will guide us to having a result. Furthermore, excessive perfectionism can significantly damage self-esteem.
- Hewitt, J.P. (2009). Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press.