Being an overthinker has benefits. I know, right? When I say these words, my inner voice goes into a painful soprano because my brain adds a disbelieving question mark. Being an overthinker has benefits? Being an overthinker has benefits!! Yes. Facts. What an uplifting & motivating truth.
So often, mental health issues or struggles such as overthinking are described in a negative light. We conceptualize them as ‘unnecessary’ parts of us that we want to move away from, get rid of, heal, hide, or fix. I find this especially true for mental health habits that are considered ‘unwanted’ & especially so when people have difficulty stopping these habits, such as overthinking. But there are benefits & more helpful ways of thinking about our habits & behavior that can help us be more accepting & tolerant, if not proud.
In this post, I’m sharing some benefits of being an overthinker. Note. I just need to be very clear about one thing before we get going. I AM NOT SAYING IT IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TO CHRONICALLY OVERTHINK. If want to have more insight into why you overthinking click here. If you need tips on stopping yourself from overthinking click here.
Now that I’m clear, here we go.
When a person overthinks, they are using incredible amounts of mental energy to think about the problem from multiple vantage points. Cognitive flexibility is all about the speed & efficiency of switching focus or tasks, like mental juggling. So that makes overthinkers are good at not only generating multiple iterations of imaginary scenarios but then finding solutions to imaginary problems. Lots of them. Just think about how much thinking that is! For example, they may have to predict how people may react, what are people likely to do or say, how the scenario will play out, what might go wrong, and what to do about x, y, & z. That’s a lot of mental juggling.
You might already know that the brain is a relatively dynamic organ. It changes. Memories fade. New ones appear. Things are forgotten. Things are learned. And the more we practice something, whether it’s the violin or how to use TikTok, the more we learn. When we practice, neuron connections are made & brain plasticity increases. When we practice mental juggling, we are training specific brain areas, & those specific areas grow & develop. Just like your biceps after 1000 hammer curls, except here it’s cognitive flex.
We tend to think creative people are creative because of who they are, like it’s an inherent quality, but that’s not totally accurate. People who overthink, ruminate, or spend a lot of time in their mental world are thinking Olympians. They use their imagination to generate new ideas at a level & speed that other people just can’t compete with. They have a creative edge, because they are able to not only see ‘what is’ from multiple angles, but also easily able to see ‘what might be.’ Just ask (with compassion & honest curiosity, of course) your most anxious friends what could go wrong today. You will hear a list of things that hadn’t even crossed your mind as a real possibility.
Because of this flexibility and an openness to thinking outside of ‘what is,’ overthinkers might introduce unconventional & novel ways of problem solving, pure creative genius. The world needs more of that magic.
Awesome planning, preparation & foresight
“Let’s see how this plays out and then decide what to do.” Said no overthinker ever. Overthinkers excel at using their mental powers to think through every possible outcome. Overthinkers have solutions for problems that don’t even exist yet. So, they excel at the ability to foresee, plan, and prepare for things that haven’t happened IRL. So, if you allow anyone to pack your bags for a wilderness survival adventure, let it be an overthinker. (And let them plan it too…).
Overthinking is associated with perfectionism. If someone is driven to overthink to find ‘perfect solutions’ or to appear ‘flawless,’ you can guarantee that their version of ‘perfect’ is unattainable for mortals. But that will not stop their quest. These impossibly talented, committed, hardworking people will burn the midnight oil, put their own happiness on the back burner, and do anything necessary to improve the odds of hitting an impossible mark. These are the people we want on group projects. But the high standards aren’t just applied to a task, but also themselves, everybody else, and society at large. That’s a lofty kind of admirable.
Being a high achiever is related to perfectionism & having high standards as well. Overthinkers can also see many possible routes. But the perfectionist overthinker will try harder than all mortals to reach those unattainable standards, because they are typically highly motivated to avoid criticism, avoid perceived failure, or receive praise for going above and beyond. The reason behind this is that their self-worth is often tied up in achievement. Such that the only way to feel worthy is to meet those standards no matter the cost & receive that praise. But right now, let’s just congratulate you on your impressive cv & other well received contributions to humanity.
Great attention to detail
If you’ve ever spent time revising a piece of work, you’ll probably deeply appreciate that the process of revision often exceeds the process of creation. If your eyebrows are currently raised with confusion and you have, at some point in your life, submitted work without any revisions… Something like, finished writing 11.58pm, submitted 11.59pm before 12.00am deadline… I can say, hand on heart, that you are likely not significantly impacted by overthinking. If you’re smiling right now because of the pain of constant revision, I can say, hand on heart, that if you reread every single email looking for typos, remove extra spaces, or re-refine your words, that you deeply appreciate & understand what attention to detail is all about. You know that you’ll spot more things when your eyes are fresh. So, you keep rereading.
People who overthink may continue to work on finished work because they keep noticing minor improvements & keep pushing through that mental distress that is oh so familiar. So, the benefit, is that you are everybody’s favorite proof-reader & produce immaculate work.
The ability to spend lengthy periods of time absorbed in the ‘mental realm’ is exhausting just like long distance running. There’s a big difference in stamina between an occasional weekend runner & someone who runs long distances daily. It’s the endurance & ability to tolerate discomfort until the job is done. So overthinkers are kind of like professional long distance runners in that they have a greater ability to work under strain for longer periods until the job is done. So, hooray for sticking with it even though every iota in your being has been asking for a break. I know you’ll take a break when you’re finished, right?
This is ironic part. Overthinkers may have a more streamlined process for generating a few options, which would be great if only they were able to put the mental breaks on, decide, and next. But it’s the extra processing that slows the cogs. The extra editing. The just in case planning. You get the idea. Just do the sprint & not the marathon.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the benefits of being an overthinker. Remember you can always suggest topics for blogs & content in my Instagram story highlight titled ‘request.’
Take care (& a big, juicy break gorgeous),
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