Being a high-functioning overthinker is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because you have brilliant thoughts that sometimes inspire and compel you into action (and other not-so-brilliant thoughts!)
But it can also be a curse because everything you do you have your monkey mind chattering away at you even when you just want peace and quiet.
If you relate to the following experiences then you’re likely a high-functioning overthinker (just like me!)
1) You stay up all night thinking
Insomnia isn’t just a neurochemical and physical problem.
It’s also mental:
When your brain is buzzing like a frenetic beehive and overthinking everything, how are you supposed to sleep?
Whether you turn to melatonin or a nice cup of chamomile tea or just endure the thoughts, you’re sure to be stuck with another night of thinking the next day regardless…
2) You start thinking and you can’t stop
As the Rolling Stones sang “start me up and I won’t ever stop.”
They may have been talking about being sexually attracted and sex, but when it comes to thinking it’s just as true.
Once you start you can’t stop.
One moment you’re in traffic thinking about the history of professional baseball in the United States and suddenly it’s an hour later and you’re doing in-depth research on the width of standard regulation bats and how it was decided on in the MLB.
This ties into the next point…
3) You research a topic and begin thinking about it constantly
When you’re an overthinker, almost everything is interesting.
You start to think about a subject and you want to know more. And more.
You were that kid who exasperated everyone by asking “why” again and again with each answer you got from an adult.
Because you want to know more deeply and dig below the surface of what you’re told.
Not everyone does.
4) You go down long historical and ideological rabbit holes
When you start researching something from history or ideological topics you end up going deeper and deeper.
You start by researching the history of West Virginia and before you know it you’re reading an in-depth book on the Civil War and a detailed explainer on numismatics and the recent find of a massive amount of gold coins from the era in Kentucky.
You’re supposed to be mowing the yard but here you are checking the value of an 1863-P gold eagle coin…
5) You lose time watching documentaries until you forget what time it is
Documentaries are your kryptonite.
It’s hard for you to look away.
If you have to hit pause you spend the rest of the day wondering what they discovered about those Viking settlements and how they relate to the early history of Newfoundland.
After you finish that you’re onto a documentary about a solo voyage around the world and another about those who build boats for a hobby…
Let’s put it this way:
The YouTube algorithm loves you.
6) You’re preoccupied by life’s big questions
As an overthinker you find yourself frequently thinking about life’s big questions.
These are questions like:
- Why are we here?
- What happens when we die?
- What is human consciousness?
- Are we living in a simulation?
You find yourself pondering and researching such subjects far more than other people, and you can’t get over how interesting they are and how such simple questions can tie people’s heads in pretzels for so many centuries…
7) You think yourself into anxious states
If overthinking was just mildly annoying or made you late for meetings sometimes it would be no big deal.
But let’s be honest:
Sometimes you think so much that you end up quite anxious and your palms start sweating…
I’ve tripped out about whether we’re in a simulation to the extent that I have to force myself to watch a movie or do something to stop thinking about it (and that’s without using drugs or any of the other substances some employ).
Sometimes it’s just a bit much!
8) You think so much you get depressed
It’s not only that you get anxious.
You may also find yourself overthinking so much that you also get depressed.
Thinking about mortality and time and the ephemeral nature of life has you feeling like crying on a Sunday afternoon while your friends are out just chilling at the barbecue.
It feels bad, man…
9) You go back and overthink past decisions
Second-guessing past decisions is rough.
But when you’re an overthinker you do it all the time.
Even the most seemingly straightforward decision preys on your mind.
What if you’d done the opposite?
What if you’d made no decision at all and just waited to see what happened?
10) You overthink simple issues and decisions to no end
When you do have to make a simple decision, you overthink it to no end.
Even if it’s just where to eat tonight with your girlfriend, you get into thinking about what type of diet you should do in the future and the disadvantages of your body type.
It’s never just as simple as where to go to dinner.
11) You seek out friendships based on shared intellectual interests
We all make friends in different ways.
But if you’re an overthinker you tend to be drawn to those who also spend a lot of time thinking.
Even if somebody doesn’t share your exact same interests, you find yourself also attracted to those who think deeply.
This can definitely be a good thing!
But it can also be that you end up with a circle of friends who are overly stuck in their own heads!
12) You get easily bored with shallow conversations and end up lost in your phone
When conversations get shallow you tune out.
It’s as simple as that.
You turn to your phone and scroll interesting interactions on Twitter or something else which can keep your interest.
You find it very hard to just relax and flow with conversations you may not find thrilling.
You want those new topics and ideas to think about and consider all the time (it can almost become like an addiction).
13) You find it almost impossible to walk away from a controversial or good debate
If there’s a debate to be had, you’re up for it.
In fact I was just sidetracked from writing this article by getting caught up in an hour of debating a bunch of anti-Semites in a Telegraph group chat.
It’s just impossible to resist a controversial debate for us overthinkers.
Especially one where we feel sure our opponents are just missing the point: it’s catnip!
14) You end up working and accomplishing things even while you’re busy thinking
The key sign you’re a high-functioning overthinker, of course, is that even though you’re constantly thinking a lot, you’re also getting things done.
If you were to think less, maybe you’d get more done.
But it’s a moot point, since you can’t and won’t make yourself think less.
It’s just your nature.
But you still get by and fulfill your duties, just with a lot more cerebral chemistry happening behind the scenes.
The advantage of being an overthinker
There are definitely times that being an overthinker can feel like a curse.
What’s the point in having this megawatt brain box buzzing away at all hours?
What does it really accomplish?
But if you take a step back I’m willing to bet you’ll find something surprising:
This capacity and even compulsion to think so much is actually a major proactive and empowering force in your life.
Your intellect and curiosity has moved you forward and introduced you to people, opportunities and experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have had.
So even if you sometimes just want to tell your chattering brain to shut up (and it is key to gain basic control and discipline of your monkey mind), you also have to admit it can get you into some very unique and interesting situations that overall make your life better!