Overthinking is a part of life that many people have to deal with on a regular basis, and a lot of those find this constant over-analysis to be a hindrance.
Classically, the process of overthinking has been considered negative for a myriad of reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the condition should be automatically associated with negativity.
In fact, many argue that overthinking could actually be a good thing in certain scenarios. It may go against the standard view of overthinking, but such attention to every potential outcome or possibility can provide perspectives that others might miss.
There are several reasons why overthinking can be considered positive.
The Creativity Connection
Overthinking is sometimes known as analysis paralysis, and that name comes from the idea that the process of overthinking causes the outcome of the situation to never be reached. In other words, the act of overthinking literally prevents someone from taking action, thereby nullifying the overthinking in the first place.
Those situations are certainly demonstrative of overthinking in a negative light, but the source of that analytical nature is inherently a good thing.
Overthinking has been linked to higher levels of intelligence and creativity and the relationship between those facets of a personality are quite obvious when they are considered.
The act of overthinking is directly linked to an overactive medial prefrontal cortex, which is the site of conscious perception and threat analysis. Spontaneous activity in that area of the brain is not only what allows for creativity, but it is also thought to be the center of analysis paralysis.
The same creativity that can be used to build awesome imaginative landscapes and abstract ideas is also used to imagine all the countless scenarios and outcomes that one experiences when overthinking.
Once an overthinker realizes they are simply using their creativity in a negative way, they can start to catch themselves in the act of overthinking so they can put their creative genius to better use. It is important to remember that the free-flow of thought that accompanies overthinking can be used in a positive sense as well.
Overthinkers tend to have a quiet streak in them because they are always in their own head debating with themselves. This introverted quality might seem negative, but it can actually be quite helpful in social situations.
Overthinkers are essentially suffering from an overactive mind, and that includes the observational side of the equation. Most people who chronically overthink are also exceptional at noticing small details about any situation.
If they can manage to cease their internal monologue, the energy of that overactive mind has to be used for something, and it typically gets used by the brain to create an uptick in sensation processing.
Being exceptionally observational in public is a good way to avoid confrontation, maximize interaction, and follow multiple conversations at once. Overthinkers who learn to observe their surroundings more often will find they can learn a surprising amount just by viewing the words and actions of those around them.
It is much easier to engage with someone on a deep level if you have some semblance of what their personality is like. Such observation can also help you determine those individuals that you would rather avoid.
As stated earlier, overthinkers tend to correlate with those of higher intelligence and creativity, and that extends to memory storage and recall. Overthinkers can use their overactive minds not only to produce creative thought but also to store and regulate information they collect from their surroundings.
Ironically, capturing more information for processing can actually have an alleviating effect on the act of overthinking. In fact, it can provide new information that might change the patterns of those overactive thoughts.
Those that consider themselves to be overthinkers actually have something of a gift compared to others.
Most people are limited to standard activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. While that is fine for daily life, it is shocking how much more can be accomplished with an overactive mind and the proper training. The trick is to learn what works for you and what methods you can use to focus all that mental energy into something positive.
Expanding creativity is one of the most effective methods, and focusing on observational detail is another. The last of the major potential positives of overthinking is empathetic reaction, which is something of a mixture of the first two methods.
An empathetic reaction is the idea that an overthinker can use their mental abilities to combine observational detail and creativity to form an image of what existence must be like for another person. Full empathy is the ability to completely place yourself in someone else’s shoes, and an empathetic reaction is a single instance of empathy in which the overthinker momentarily realizes what an experience is like for the subject.
In many cases, empathy is used to feel the negative feelings and emotions that another might have in order to understand their position. Overthinkers are some of the best at empathy because they can learn to glean all the most important details while observing their surroundings. They can also learn to creatively use those details to fill in the gaps that are left unspoken or acted.
While overthinking tends to have a negative stigma associated with it, it can actually be used to better your life if you can learn to control it.
The same is true for just about any physical or mental characteristic. Many of those personality traits might seem inconvenient or inhibiting, but they can be exactly the opposite.
There is no real reason to think of an overactive medial prefrontal cortex as a bad thing. In fact, it actually provides the potential for a larger appreciation of the world around you. Just like any other tool that can better your life, it must be learned and honed to become maximally effective. Don’t let anyone tell you that overthinking is an inherently negative thing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting from a young age, Sean has had a passion for self-development and a healthy, positive lifestyle. Even if some obstacles came along the way, he managed to get past them with a good sense of humor and a strong mentality. Amongst other things, he is now a Content Editor for CalendarTable.com.