“Is Overthinking A Weakness” or “Is Overthinking A Good Weakness” or “Is overthinking a strength or a weakness” are now becoming popular interviews questions and also a subject matter of introspection. The answer can be YES or NO – depending on the context and personal thinking.
I have talked to psychologists and many intellectuals in this regard. In the following lines, I have tried to summarize their view points and arguments.
Definition of Overthinking
Overthinking, can be said to mean that there is too of much thinking. One can’t really tell how much thinking needs to be done before makes a decision or takes action but the process of thinking is takes extra long time than usual.
The long process of thinking happens even over relatively small or petty matters.
During the thinking process, the mind is constantly fixed on that and that subject only, until it passes.
Are You Sure You Are An Overthinker?
There is no machine or instrument which if applied can instantly declare whether or not one is an overthinker.
Hence we have to rely on certain psychological tests or may be you would like to apply some common sense.
You would be glad that we already have a detailed article: Signs You Are An Over Thinker
Is Overthinking A Weakness ?
Strength and Weakness are man-made labels. If over thinking seems to be a step towards perfectionism or zero error to one set of people, it may seem to be a sign of self doubt or incompetence to take a decision to other set of people. It depends how overthinking serves or not serve a person.
Hence as far as possible, we have to have an objective assessment of this question.
#1 Overthinking Reflects Lack Of Confidence
One of the common views, I gathered is that overthinking often is seen as a reflection of the person not having sufficient confidence.
Probably the person has a pessimistic mind set or he does not have confidence in the execution process of the idea. To others, it may also show that the person lacks commitment to the plan of action.
In certain cases, overthinking may be seen as perfectly OK if the choices are limited and / or the consequences of the plan failing can be extremely upsetting.
If it is a job interview question, and you mentioned over thinking as one of your weakness, definitely the interviewer is not going to like it.
#2 Anything In Excess Is Bad
The wise old men say that even good things if done in excess are bad. For example, too much exercising, too much working, drinking too much water or milk or even studying too much – are all supposed to do more harm than good.
Most of you must have heard the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and according to Wikipedia it was recorded as early as 1659.
Clearly it shows that without time off from work, a person becomes dull and boring.
The same goes for thinking. Thinking is good if it is done up to a limit. If you think too much about anything and everything, you start loosing time to act.
In business situations or war if you spend too much time thinking and planning then your enemy or competitor will come and will trounce you.
#3 Both – Overthinking Can Be A weakness And Also A Strength
According to the argument given by some, it can be both. The deciding factor is the situation – it’s a quick action demanding situation or a puzzle to be solved.
Overthinking is especially justifiable when nobody else is around to help or this situation has not been faced earlier. The classic example could be finding a remedy or vaccine to Corona Covid – 19.
In that case it is strength, because it is something is out of our control.
On the other hand, if over thinking can really affect you, it becomes a weakness.
Let us take another example.
In the game of chess, if a player takes rather long time, his opponent has a time advantage. At the same time, if the player moves in a short time, he might make a bad move.
Therefore, as you keep getting more experiences of life, you can get matured enough to decide how long you need to think in every situation before making a decision.
Downside Of Being An Overthinker
Overthinking as an obsessive habit is certainly not helpful. It can have many undesired effects on the personality of the person and may even hamper the full or proper personality development of an affected person.
Some of the damages it can cause might be:
1. Always Seeking Approval Of Others
An overthinker may spend far too many years thinking far too often and far too long about everything.
It could be “what others thought of me” and actually it does not matter.
2. Being Too Emotional
Overthinkers are often immensely empathetic and passionate individuals. However, this empathy and care for others, can sometimes overtake the actual doing of things. The insatiable desire to feel that others are doing well, can paralyze you .
Overthinking can make you constantly anxious and inhibit your ability to learn and grow, because you don’t see growth, you only see road blocks.
Remember, your energy is worth more than that and the day you decide to correct this habit your life would for the better.
3. Loss Of Opportunities Due To Analysis Paralysis
Overthinkers are likely to be passionate about gathering tons of information before they set down to take a decision. The painstaking task of first gathering information and then analyzing it leaves them drained of both energy and time.
They have so much information overload that they can’t simply arrive a decision. Sometimes they are left with very little time and sometimes they leave the process incomplete.
Not availing of an opportunity that presents itself once in a while is an evident loss.
4. Loss Of Physical And Mental Health
In the previous article on this blog, I have clearly mentioned that over thinkers tend to miss out on sound sleep and they can be prey to insomnia. Sleep is an important part of any person’s life to keep him in sound health – both mentally and physically.
5. Questionable Quality of Personal Life
Since an overthinker can invite so much damage to his professional, financial life besides some risk to his mental and physical, it would not be difficult to imagine that his love life and family life might get affected too.
Such a person may take forever thinking before proposing or saying “I love you” to the person he or she likes. Perhaps he may miss out altogether on having an ideal life partner.
How to convert gift of thinking into strength and avoid overthinking?
Many leaders and CEOs are blessed with a gift of ability to think.
However, when they overuse this dominant strength, it turns into not so favored personality trait of overthinking. This means the gift has been turned into curse.
So revert to thinking. Once you are mindful of this, you won’t turn your thinking ability into overthinking every time and do it only, if needed
Rest assured, overthinking is not always needed. You should let a combination of your experience, learning and instinct take over and you should be able to decide quickly.
Other times, when the circumstances are unprecedented, just think through what the options are, which options seems to be the best, and why. It also depends on how easily something can be changed, or the investment required in a decision or time and resources required to change the decision if it turns out to be bad.
When talking to your team, you should be able to ask questions which help them think through things as you may think through things. Different questions raise levels of information on different solutions for various decisions made daily.
If you discover that we you to think too much before deciding, it may be a sign that for some reason, you are unable to deal with the consequences of your decision.
The habit overthinking is not a weakness as such. The weakness is our inability to handle the outcome of the decision taken.