Sometimes, the biggest problems we have in life revolve more around the fact that we focus more on what we think about them than, well, anything else. Reflection is important. Self-awareness is crucial. But either way, overthinking (and then, of course, overfeeling) your way through anything is usually not OK. It's often destructive. It's what happens when we think that we must evaluate every single thought we have and accept every single feeling as truth.
If your biggest struggle is irrational anxiety, or you always seem to be upset and projecting that feeling onto various objective non-issues in your life, this could be the case for you. The solution, interestingly enough, may just be the fact that you aren't listening to your feelings at all — you're too busy talking over them! When we experience any kind of strong, reoccurring emotion, it's a call for us to make a change in our lives, and usually we get stuck when we either deny those feelings, or pretend that they belong to an issue which they don't.
For example, if your issue is low self-esteem, but you ignore that and/or refuse to fully address it, you may project your anxiety onto feeling isolated from friends, or like you can't get back out there and date, or like you're not good enough at your job, or as though you're doomed to fail. You end up overthinking because you can't actually fix those problems, because they aren't the problem. You see what we're getting at here? So here's how to know whether or not you're just overthinking the symptoms, and not addressing what's real:
You're Mostly Upset By Your Thoughts, Not Your Circumstances
Your problems aren't your problems; your problems are how you think about your problems.
Ideas About Your Life Fuel You More Than Your Life Itself Does
You are more in love with the way things look and seem than you are to actually be living them.
You Are Constantly Stressed About Not Knowing "What You're Going To Do With Your Life," Or Feeling Lost
This means that you're attached to the idea of an outcome, or that you're only living for the next big goal, when in reality, everything important happens in the simple, day-to-day.
If You Looked At Your Life Objectively, You Could Admit That You Don't Really Have Any "Problems"
You have somewhere to sleep, something to eat, work to do, a friend or two who will love and support you ... and so on. Often, solving our problems is seriously reconsidering what's actually a "problem."
In Fact, You Generally Consider Your Life To Be Good
If you calmed down and thought about it for a minute, you actually have a pretty great life and are grateful for it — when you're not absolutely freaking out about it.
You're Afraid Of Opening Up To People
Overthinking is a defense mechanism we use when we're afraid of real intimacy.
Your Anxiety And Worry Shifts From One Issue To The Next
You project your worries and fears from one thing to the next — if you're not worried about work, you're worried about your relationship; if you're not worried about that, you're worried about the world falling over. It's just a fear in your mind, basically, so it can apply anywhere else.
Your Thoughts Are More About What Things "Mean" Than What Things Are
Rather than thinking: "I am going to the beach today, and I'm excited to relax" you think: "I am going to the beach and I hate how I look in a bathing suit so I will be humiliated today and I am only going with two friends as opposed to five like that other group so I am a loser and I am wasting another day because I am not working on my project."
You Often Feel Like You're Experiencing Reoccurring Issues
You sometimes stress about why it seems like you can't ever get over the things you feel you should have gotten over so many years ago.
You Can Easily Become Convinced Of Something That Has No Basis In Reality Or Truth
When you have a triggering, anxious thought, ask yourself: "Do I know this for sure? Or am I just predicting or creating a situation and letting myself get stuck in it?"
You're Your Own Worst Enemy
You try to predict worst possible scenarios so you can "shield" yourself from them, and you think that if you think the worst of yourself nobody else can possibly hurt you.
Overthinking Has Always Been Your Defense Mechanism
In an effort to shield yourself from feelings you'd rather not experience, you just think enough to distract yourself from them, rather than think of alternate possibilities, or other ideas.
Your Friends Tell You You're Overthinking
If more than one friend says to you: "Hey, you're totally overthinking this," it's likely that you are. If you had a real, serious problem in your life, have faith that someone would step in and say: "This is not OK, you need help," rather than: "Stop worrying so much, and start living!"
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