“I think the cashier at that department store made a face ringing up those shoes I bought. What was that about?” “What did the series finale of Lost actually mean?” “What exactly did that emoji mean in his text after I said it was nice meeting his mother? I thought it was indicative of a ‘me too’ but maybe not?”
Do you lie in bed or sit on the train or at your desk at work and think these kinds of things? And then say to yourself, “am I overthinking this?” Hey, don’t worry I do it too! Seriously considering launching an Overthinkers Anonymous group this year as a result of all this mind wandering we all seem to do. If you’re thinking of joining OA with me, you might find yourself nodding along to some of the following behaviors.
It’s hard to actually stay put in the moment
Aside from the recent push for us all to put our phones down more and be present in the moment, this has been something I’ve struggled with before the digital revolution. Sometimes when you really like someone and you’re hanging out a lot and want to just exist in the excitement of that…but your mind starts thinking about why they haven’t yet called you their girlfriend or whether they’re hanging out with someone else when you’re not around. Or maybe you’re out at a concert and it’s running later than you thought and you’re no longer hearing the music but stressing and counting down the hours of sleep you won’t be getting before work in the morning.
You obsess over something you said
Ever have those instances where it might be hours or days later after you said or did something and you’re STILL going over and over it in your head? Maybe I should have said this instead of that? Left the party earlier or stayed later. Not blurted out every emotion I’m feeling the instant I’m having it, or maybe I should have and things would be different. I’ve had work meetings where I’ve kicked myself for days for not speaking up about an idea I had and wondered if it would have been shot down or embraced. Told a guy I really liked him even though I thought it was too soon to declare myself and then mulled over all our interactions going forward wondering how they’d be different if I hadn’t opened my mouth. Sometimes I’ve told a story thinking others would share in the hilarity of an awkward experience, and then when they didn’t seem to relate, think of all the other possible things I could have or should have said instead of an embarrassing story.
You’re always looking for hidden messages
I can’t even keep track of all the times I’ve pondered what exactly something someone said means. Was the “let’s have lunch sometime” a brush off or a genuine gesture? Does “I miss you so much” mean he’s falling in love with me? And of course we all know that actions speak so much louder than words. But is sending me links to articles with the email “thought you might like this” just normal friendly behavior or is this person being extra considerate because they might have feelings for me? What is the meaning UNDERNEATH the meaning? Is there one?
It’s sometimes easier said than done to simply “enjoy the moment” without thinking about what comes next or what something means. Remember that too much anticipation does take away from being present and fully engaging in what’s currently happening, but there’s no straightforward way to turn your brain off. I do like to think that overthinking means that we’re a little more sensitive and intuitive for the most part, which is not a bad thing. But let’s all share our secrets about how we can focus more on looking on the surface instead of worrying what lies beneath it. As for fan theories? We can keep those as long as they’re not keeping us up at night!
[Image via IFC Films]