15 Overthinking Quotes When You Need to Get Out of Your Own Head
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Are you ruminating? Here's how to tell if you've crossed from normal worrying into destructive overthinking, and quotes about overthinking to help recognize and break the cycle.
These overthinking quotes will get you out of your head
Overthinking is a maladaptive strategy to deal with anxiety. You overanalyze an issue to the point where it’s unhelpful and may even be harmful, says Shelly Smith-Acuña, PhD, professor, and dean of the graduate school of professional psychology at the University of Denver. It’s tempting because it feels like you’re doing something but you risk getting stuck in a loop of negative thoughts and anxiety, she says.
The problem with overthinking
When it comes to thinking about a problem, balance is the key Smith-Acuña, says. Consider too little, and you’ll make uninformed choices, overthink, and risk “paralysis by analysis.” (Here’s how to make better decisions.)
“Despite what it may feel like, overanalyzing doesn’t promote problem-solving,” she says, adding that overthinking can even cause more problems. “When you do this, it can amplify feelings of danger, escalate your anxiety, and interfere with good judgment,” she says.
How to tell if you are overthinking
How do you know if you’ve crossed the line from careful consideration to destructive overthinking? There are a few signs to look for, Smith-Acuña says.
You’re ruminating. Overthinking often leads to ruminating, where you can’t stop thinking about something even though you know you need to focus on other things.
You can’t make a decision. Overthinking isn’t problem-solving, and it rarely leads to making a decision one way or the other.
You are second-guessing yourself. Even if a solution is agreed on, overthinking begets more overthinking, and it often doesn’t stop when a strategy or plan develops. You may find yourself still going over the issue in your head even though it’s been “solved.”
Others say you are. Sometimes you can’t see it in yourself, so it’s important to listen when a loved one points out that you’re worrying too much about a problem.
How to stop overthinking
The first step to stopping this behavior is recognizing when you’re falling into a negative pattern, Smith-Acuña says. A little worrying is normal and healthy. The trick is to find the balance. (Find inspiration to feel better in these self-care quotes.)
“Adaptive worry alerts you to dangers and threats, clarifies the problem, can lead you to seek help or more information from others, and then helps you solve the problem,” she explains.
If your thinking isn’t leading to any of those things, then you’ve likely crossed the line, and it’s time to take action. Meditation, diverting your attention, and staying busy are some ways to stop overthinking. (Here’s how to tap into your intuition.)
To help distract you from your worries, help you get out of your own head, and help you feel less alone, here are some of the best overthinking quotes.
Anxiety: Breakfast of champions
“If overthinking burned calories, I’d be a supermodel.” — Anonymous
Some of us overthink so much we practically turn it into an Olympic sport. If that sounds familiar, you may have high-functioning anxiety.
Some thinking is good
“Take time to deliberate but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go.” — Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader
No one is telling you to make decisions on the spur of the moment, but there’s a lot of middle ground between following a rash impulse and overthinking.
Envision a happy outcome
“Worrying how things go wrong doesn’t help things go right.” — Karen Salmansohn, self-help author
Not only does overthinking situations not make them go right, but your negative thoughts can increase your chances that things will go wrong and make your anxiety worse.
Most decisions aren’t that big of a deal
“If you treat every situation like a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” — Dean Smith, University of North Carolina basketball coach
Try the 5-5-5 trick: Ask yourself, “Will this matter in five days? Five months? Five years?” Your answers can help you put your worries into perspective.
“We can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” — Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
If you find yourself in a bad situation, consider taking the opposite point of view. For instance, if you overthought a decision only to discover that you decided too late or made the wrong choice, consider trying again but without analyzing it as much. Sometimes we need a different approach as opposed to deeper thought about it. (Here are ways to reframe your thoughts that can change your life.)
It does feel like doing something though
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.” — Erma Bombeck, author
It can be tough to accept that there’s nothing you can do about a particular situation that’s upsetting you but worrying about it isn’t helping. Instead, try these mindfulness tips that can help you stay present in the moment while you wait.
It’s all small stuff
“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.” — Robert Eliot, MD, cardiologist and author of Is It Worth Dying For?
Worrying can be OK—if you do it in a balanced, healthy way. (Here’s how to know when to worry and the right way to do it.)
Keep your focus in front of you
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., American minister and leader in the civil rights movement
Sometimes it just takes a little creative thinking to break you out of overthinking. Try looking at your problem differently, focusing on what you can control—the next step you need to take.
“Overthinking: the art of creating new problems out of ones that never existed in the first place.” — Anonymous
One of the biggest issues with overthinking is how it tends to create even more problems than the one you started worrying about. When you encounter a situation you don’t understand, you may invent a story to explain it, but that story may not be true and may cause more worry and anxiety. If that sounds familiar, try these top tricks from therapists on how to deal with anxiety.
Overthinking can harm your mental health
“I think and think and think. I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.” – Jonathan Safran Foer, American novelist
Ruminating leads to anxiety and depression, so learning how to short circuit overthinking is one way to protect your mental health.
Stuck in a thought loop
“When you’ve had a life of overthinking, you have the same reaction time and time again.” — Joel Annesley, life coach
Anxiety, shyness, and negative thoughts about yourself can become habitual when you overthink. “When you’re put in an unfamiliar situation, all you want to do is retreat and hide by default. You watch but don’t participate. You listen but don’t respond. You read, but rarely comment. You take a photo, but you rarely post. You write, but you rarely publish. All of this is because your overthinking mind cannot stop thinking about how you will be perceived by the outside world,” Annesley explains.
(If you like these overthinking quotes, you’ll enjoy these balance quotes, too.)
Make space for good
“The best things happen when you’re not overthinking it.” — Ben Zobrist, professional baseball player
Letting go of your worry and control can feel scary in the moment, but sometimes spontaneity can lead to the greatest experiences.
Too much of anything is a problem
“Someone who overthinks is also someone who over-loves.” — Anonymous
Overthinking can lead to over-acting, which can have its own negative consequences. Even something positive, like showing love to someone, can become overwhelming if you do it too much.
“I have found that sometimes I do better working on a crazy schedule. It gives me less time to overthink things and forces me to be present.” — Torrey DeVitto, actress
One of the most powerful antidotes to overthinking is to stay busy. Focusing on something positive and productive will keep your mind from getting sucked into a worry vortex. (Staying busy is also one of the best tips for how to avoid emotional eating.)
Go with your gut
“The more you overthink, the less you understand.” — Habeeb Akande, writer and historian
Relying solely on your knowledge to solve a problem can lead you to overthink. Instead, get out of your own head and consult with others, read a book, or learn how to tap into your intuition.
- Shelly Smith-Acuña, PhD, professor and dean of the graduate school of professional psychology at the University of Denver