You’ve just received a message from your best friend, and yet your mind is working overtime.
‘She didn’t send an emoji!’ ‘Where are the x’s and o’s?’ ‘Crap! Why is she taking so long to reply?’
Before you drop yourself into a bottomless pit of despair at the prospect of your eternal loneliness and incompatibility with your favorite person in the world, your phone vibrates, and all is right in the world. Does this sound like you?
Overthinking is a condition that everyone has experienced. When we invest emotions into a situation or relationship, we hate for it to end badly. We hate to be hurt and more importantly, we hate to feel unwanted. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the field; over-analysing every situation until I conjure up an idea that is so beyond the realm of possibility that others think me crazy and paranoid. And this, in part is true, but what causes me to think so much and place myself in these distressing moments of self-doubt and insecurity? Why am I like this?
Almost every young girl in the history of the world can identify with the classic, ‘Oh, he looked at me, so he must like me,’ and the ‘he said ‘see ya later’ so how much later will that be?’ A prime example for the dilemma of overthinking, as the boy in question could just be giving a casual ‘see ya later’ or he could have looked at you because your hair was a mess (yes, this has also happened to me *sigh*).
Charles Bukowski emphasized this dilemma, “The problem with today’s world is that while intelligent people are full of doubts, the stupid ones are very self-confident.”
According to studies (Duczeminski, 2016), individuals who possessed a higher than average IQ and intelligence were more prone to traits of anxiety and depression. I am in no way claiming a higher than average IQ (in fact, I often surprise myself and those around me with higher than average levels of stupidity), however, it has been revealed that people who suffer from overthinking, are merely identifying every possible outcome in order to avoid getting hurt. This becomes somewhat counter-productive, as it more often than not leads to bouts of anxiety and insecurity. Whoever said ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ could really have meant ‘Intelligence is torment.’
Ernest Hemingway said, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Is Hemingway suggesting that intelligent people are doomed to a life of self-doubt? Not entirely. But to dwell on things that have never happened, and possibly never will happen, is the surest way to a life of uncertainty and misery.
My father once told me, “Meg, you’re your own worst enemy.” A thinly veiled reference to my fatal condition of over-thinking, he wasn’t wrong. Rather than my best friend having an issue with me, she may be having a bad day herself, or simply forgot to message me. Instead of concocting an idea that my dog has died when my dad tells me he has bad news, it most likely means my brother won’t be home when I come to visit, or they haven’t had rain in a while. Overthinking kills, and from my experience it does no good to worry about something that hasn’t happened.
Live in the moment and just go with it. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all.