Overthinking is something I tend to do when I’m faced with a complex problem and/or a big feeling. I return to the situation and how I am feeling over and over. What did she mean by that?

Overthinking assumes that I can resolve the problem if I just think more about it. In reality, time is probably what is doing the actual work. Maybe overthinking is really just my desperate attempt to control something that feels unwieldy, tangled, and/or unresolved. Ambiguity is hard, especially when our emotions are engaged. I wonder if he’s mad at me.

Today I listened to a podcast episode in which Adam Grant interviewed Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind. When he introduced the episode, Adam stated that Annie’s work had challenged his assumption that thinking happened solely in our brains. I listened and immediately wondered how, if at all, this relates to overthinking. They can’t possibly be talking about me, right?

Annie’s work presents research to demonstrate that our thinking process extends beyond our brains. Three specific extensions/practices mentioned in her conversation with Adam were: paying attention to our bodies, getting outside, and talking with others. Overthinking did not make the list. Do they even realize how that made me feel?

When I am overthinking something, staying “in my head” might be the worst option. Overthinking masquerades as the safest, least vulnerable, controlled option, but it’s the least likely to help me feel better, come up with new ideas, or work through my feelings. Drat; I was getting so good at it.