Why We Over-Analyse and How To Stop

Do you find it hard to switch your mind off and stop worrying? I confess I was an over-analyser too...

Being in my head was my go to, overthinking and overanalysing was what I did best. At times it was the only thing that felt helpful, but the relief was only ever short-lived.

Perhaps you can relate to overthinking things or wanting to really understand something. We human beings are meaning-making creatures, so it’s in our nature to want to try and understand and make sense of our experiences.

However, when a difficult or challenging situation or interaction leaves us feeling emotional, distressed or unfinished we can begin to replay thoughts in our minds and overanalyse as a way to try and understand our situation. What I see most often is people overthinking and overanalysing as a way to try and alleviate the discomfort they experiencing as well as a way to suppress their emotions and not deal with the fear, sadness of shame they may be feeling in relation to their experience.

It might sound strange but by overanalysing we get to replay thoughts and experiences in our minds… over and over…we get to ask question upon question, critique ourselves, envision a different response we would have like to have had or prepare for the response we want to make in the future ....(said situation will never get the better of me again!)

Sounds ok right?

Except, all of this overthinking and analysing is really an attempt to alleviate our anxiety and discomfort at what’s going on underneath, (yep those feelings and emotions again) as well as trying to ensure we don’t face the same feelings in the future.

Whilst we might find some short term relief and sometimes even solution through thinking and overanalysing things, we often only feel better for a short period of time… eventually, the unresolved thoughts and feelings that need to be dealt with end up resurfacing.

If left unchecked our need to overanalyse can lead to constant stress and worry. We can start questioning our behaviours and actions and at worst we can start to question our worth and value as a person. We can end up feeling exhausted by the repetitive nature of our thoughts, as well as the energy we are using to not address the thoughts, emotions and feelings we feel.

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Overanalysing means we waste time overthinking events, ourselves, our thoughts, and actions… not to mention other people. We get caught up in repeatedly trying to plan for the future, regardless of the fact that most of the scenarios we go through won’t ever actually happen.

So how do we stop the worry, over thinking and over analysing?

Firstly we need to recognise if overanalysing has become a fixed and unconscious habit we no longer feel we have any choice or control over.

At the heart of overcoming the need to over think and overanalyse is understanding what triggers us to start in the first place. When we become aware of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that come up around a certain situation Eg.

“I need to figure out what I did wrong so this doesn’t happen in the future”

or “I can’t believe I was so stupid, next time I’ll handle things like…”

We need to lean into the feelings that come up so that we can look at some of the underlying beliefs that influence our desire to overthink and overanalyse. Many people find that underneath their drive to overthink and overanalyse are beliefs like:

I need to be perfect

I’m not allowed to be wrong

I must never be vulnerable

I must always be strong and in control

When we can address these core beliefs we can start to learn how to separate our from our overanalysing thoughts and re-focus on what’s important to us, as well as bring us back to what is actually happening in the present moment.

In time we can begin to catch ourselves when we get pulled into overanalysing and with support. We can work to develop better strategies and habits to deal with the underlying thoughts, feelings and emotions we experience rather than getting stuck in the repetitive loop of overanalysing.

The most important thing to know is that you don’t have to feel as though you need to do this on your own. If you could benefit from being supported in this area of your life, please reach out.

Natajsa Wagner