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Overthinking – Is it a problem?

October 31, 2021

Overthinking is a problem when…

I was having brunch with a few friends after church. I got my usual two eggs and sausage. Other people go their pancakes and omelets. We were talking about the sermon and determining whether or not it was good. I spoke about my thoughts that we only have a limited number of sermons we can listen to in our lifetime. With the advent of social media, why not just collect the best ones for everyone to enjoy? It would certainly prevent wasting time with “bad” sermons.

As I expected, I got some pushback. It wasn’t traditional, it wasn’t how it was done, it would feel weird. I was expecting something along the lines of “Sermons needed to be updated for the times.”. However, I got a response that hear too often…

“You’re overthinking it.”

Have you ever been told, “You’re overthinking it”? I have from time to time. From working through physics problems in college to discussing biological mechanisms in medicine to incorporating psychology into religion, there will always be someone to say “You’re overthinking it.”

I have a distaste for the phrase, “overthinking.” I’ve personally found that people use it when they don’t understand the matter at hand. It’s an easy thing to say, “It’s too complex and that’s YOUR fault.”

However, there are times when “overthinking” is really the problem. There are times when you need to take a step back and remember the big picture. There are times our thoughts can get in the way of our progress.

So when do you know when you’re “overthinking” in a “bad” way versus a “good” way?

I want to introduce the idea of “overthinking” versus “deeply thinking.”

When you’re “overthinking,” your thought process is going through cycles over and over again. There are no new thoughts, just an increasing amount of anxiety and frustration.

When you’re “deeply thinking” your thought process isn’t going through cycles. You’re learning more about the problem and you’re getting close to a solution.

There’s more to the difference between “overthinking” and “deeply thinking”. But let’s discuss that next week.

Dr. Eric

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