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May 25

Overanalyzing? Here is why.


By Diana C. Pitaru, M.S., L.P.C.

Defense Mechanism: Overthinking/overanalyzing

One of the most employed tools in dealing with fear and anxiety is overanalyzing or overthinking.

Typically when we try to make our mind about something or make a decision that has the potential to impact us negatively we panic (afraid of the consequences), become more controlling about the problem at stake, and eventually attempt to fend off danger by intensely focusing our attention on the occurring possibilities (also known as overthinking or overanalyzing). And yes, we drive ourselves mad in the process and the miracle solution never seems to come along.

While overthinking is a very common strategy (lots and lots of people employ it) it is also a very unhelpful tool and a defense system meant to give us the illusion of control while wreaking havoc in the background.

When we overanalyze or overthink things all we do is focus on the mind while ignoring our emotions and the body. We become removed and disconnected from ourselves, trapped in a self-induced hypnotic like state. The longer we stay in, the harder it feels to get back to that state of internal balance which instinctively we try to achieve. It is this state that leads to disconnecting from ourselves, our intuition and creativity.

Sometimes we act as if being in touch with our emotions is a sign of weakness and live our lives with the belief (delusion) that we can control our own emotions as well as others’. We ask ourselves for perfection and hope/ believe that somehow, we’re above the rest. In trying to prove ourselves different though, we exchange our humanity for a false sense of super power and close ourselves to the flawed beauty inside and out, to the inspiration that surrounds us, the dreams and creativity we all are capable of, and to the emotions (not only the ones we like) that makes us who we are.

It takes an iron like willingness and a desire to truly understand yourself to be able to pull yourself out of the trance and achieve balance, and it is doable.

As with working through any defense systems, when dealing with overthinking you must first become self-aware. Not that you go about living in the world completely unaware because up to a certain extent we all maintain a certain level of self-awareness. Draw from your child-like curiosity (that insatiable curiosity that knows no boundaries) and use it to fully understand where you are, how stuck you are and finally make a conscious decision to break through the prison you’ve created for yourself while knowing what the consequences are for both sticking with overthinking or moving away from it. Can you think of the benefits and risks of either choice?

If you’ve been using the tool of overanalyzing for most of your life, the idea of putting an end to it might be both desirable as well as frightening. On one hand you may be thinking that it would be nice not to have to split hairs over everything while, on the other hand overthinking seems to give you a sense of control; plus, it’s “the devil you know”.

So what lies outside of the familiar and beyond the walls of this defense mechanism?

The Unknown

It is the willingness to take the leap into the unknown that will make a difference for the better.

The unknown is a repository holding your discarded emotions, the repressed and suppressed ones, the things you keep to yourself, your secrets and your shame.

The idea of taking a leap into everything that you want to forget is fear inducing; after all, you’ve worked hard to put things (emotions) behind you, to not have to deal with them anymore. Why would you consciously go there? Because the emotions that make up the unknown are not behind you or outside of you. We carry them with us and at the same time we choose to not look, understand, and ultimately accept this big part of ourselves.

The leap into the unknown is what ultimately will bring clarity, resolve, and self-acceptance (and with it a deep understanding of your core self and your own flawed and beautiful humanity).

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