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Breaking Free: How to Stop Overthinking as a Highly Sensitive Person


complex decision diagram


HSPs can be overthinkers with a tendency to worry too much.


Whether it is replaying our last interaction with the waitress (you can also insert: bank teller, hair dresser, postal worker, neighbor, friend, best friend, sibling, parent...you get the point) or preparing what we are going to say,


HSPs can really overthink. And then worry. And they worry about overthinking.



Which came first the chicken or the egg?


Does the overthinking cause the worrying or does the worrying cause us to overthink? Regardless, here are some reasons I think HSPs dwell:


INFORMATION OVERLOAD

In today's information-saturated world, people are bombarded with news, opinions, "facts", and data. This information, even if it is neutral or positive, can overload an HSP and cause overwhelm and overstimulation which can lead to overthinking.

UNCERTAINTY

Unpredictable, ambivalent, ambiguity - these are all HSP kryptonite. Highly Sensitive people have an innate discomfort with the unknown.


We thrive on structure and routine. We feel safe when we know what to expect. When faced with inconsistency we overthink to try and reduce the uncertainty and make sense of what is happening.




cartoon brain wearing glasses who overthinks



WAY TO COPE

If we feel threatened (think fight-or-flight), our HSP brain likes to think worst case scenario and then prepare for them.


My old brain: "I don't know what to expect so I will just conclude the scariest possible outcomes, then that way when they happen I'll be prepared and in control. Genius." Thanks brain. So glad I trained my brain not to think that way anymore.


STUCK IN THE PAST

When our HSP brain isn't busy worrying about the future, it likes to take a trip down memory lane to overthink the past.


Similar to #3, our brain is trying to make sense of what happened so when (my old brain wouldn't have been optimistic enough to think "if," it automatically assumed the worse and went to "when") it inevitably happened again, it will be prepared this time.


According to our brain, preparation = safety and safety = not having to worry.



Conclusion

So, there you have it – the inside scoop on how highly sensitive peeps can get trapped in the overthinking and worry cycle. Sometimes it's like having a thought tornado in our head!


The key is to find that sweet spot between deep thinking (HSPs are known for our "Depth of Processing" according to Dr. Elaine Aron) and overthinking.


Just being mindful that we are caught up in the overthinking pattern of overthinking can help towards kicking the overthinking habit. Did I just overthink that?




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