Puzzled by Overthinking

There’s a force within me, a compelling urge to act. Over the past decade, I’ve grown immensely, acquiring knowledge and tools that could propel me into a new phase of life. I’ve learned about myself and the world, developed beliefs, and devised methods to handle tough situations. Yet, despite having all this knowledge at my disposal, I find myself holding back, struggling to use these valuable tools effectively.

A Puzzle

A metaphor that comes to mind is a puzzle. I have all the pieces laid out before me, each acquired at a cost. However, I feel paralyzed by the task of assembling them into a meaningful picture. I sit and ponder what the final image should look like, staring at the disorganized pieces, trying to envision the end result in my head.

Instead of picking up a piece and seeing where it fits, I try to calculate in my head where each piece should go. Perhaps I’m trying to avoid the mistake of placing pieces next to each other only to realize they don’t fit. I fear having to start over and search for a different piece that fits. To avoid making a “mistake”, I overthink and plan, trying to predict the future and run simulations in my head without taking any action.

Puzzled by overthinking

Definition of Overthinking

Overthinking is defined as thinking about something too much or for too long. It involves putting too much time into thinking about or analyzing something in a way that is more harmful than helpful. This process can lead to repetitive, unproductive thought patterns. Overthinking can occur when one is stuck thinking about the same issue repeatedly without coming to any sort of resolution. It’s often associated with excessive worry or rumination, which can be mentally exhausting and counterproductive.

From action to planning, thinking, seeking approvals. Looking back, I was usually a “doer”. I enjoyed good thinking, but I was also action-oriented. My life reflects an ability to act. However, nowadays, I find myself in a situation where I’ve convinced myself that all my thinking must be really precise and solid before I can move to action.

The impact of the environment? Something tells me that it has a lot to do with the environment I live and work in. In a work environment where the level of trust is low, perfectionism becomes a defense mechanism. “If I really think it through, if I make my work immaculate — then no one can ever accuse me or blame me for anything.” If we are always striving for perfection, then we will never complete the work and keep ourselves from completing it.

The Downward Spiral

In such an environment, you start thinking that everything you do and talk about, all the initiatives you propose, have to be a perfect finished product of your mental labor. You end up exhausting yourself by trying to predict the future and make a plan that will avoid all the pitfalls. You will focus all your energy on things that have really little value, like seeking approval and acceptance from others. You will slow yourself down to the level of those that surround you. Your drive for execution will slowly die down, as well as your passion and motivation. You will start questioning yourself and your abilities. Your self-confidence will slowly decrease, without you even noticing. You will end up in a dangerous mental state: low energy, low self-esteem, low confidence. This state is dangerous because it creeps up on you unnoticeably.