Which of these overthinking are you suffering from?

I remember getting a call from the strategy team of one of our clients. The caller explained that they have been having several sessions, brainstorming how they will explore an opportunity in the market and how to edge their competitors to this opportunity.

Good! So, what is the problem with that? These brain-pushing sessions have happened so much they have become an unending cycle. The team just couldn’t take a leap away from the thinking zone to the doing zone. As much as it is evident we need to put on our thinking caps as a way of starting the process of innovation and problem-solving, without a conscious move from this to taking action, our hope of getting any tangible result is near impossible.

This dilemma isn’t unique to planning at an organisational level. Even as individuals, we often may encounter this daunting experience of going around in cycles thinking without doing. For the purpose of this article, let us call this overthinking.

Overthinking can take different shapes and forms. To deal with it, it is vital to first understand the different ways it is expressed.


This form of overthinking is akin to a broken record that keeps playing the same tune. It involves a relentless focus on past events, particularly those that are negative or distressing. Individuals who ruminate may find themselves trapped in a loop of self-blame or blaming others, which can exacerbate feelings of sadness and anxiety. It’s a mental habit that can be hard to break, but strategies like engaging in new, absorbing activities or practising mindfulness can help shift the focus away from the past and towards the present.


Mindreading is the tendency to make assumptions about what others are thinking, usually imagining negative evaluations. This type of overthinking can lead to a skewed interpretation of social cues and create unnecessary anxiety in social situations. It’s often based on our insecurities and the fear of being judged. To counteract mindreading, one can practice reality-checking thoughts with evidence, seeking clarification from others, and building self-esteem to reduce reliance on others’ perceived opinions.

Future Tripping

Future Tripping involves excessive worry about what has yet to come, often envisioning the most catastrophic outcomes. This can result in a state of constant anxiety and prevent individuals from taking action due to fear of the unknown. Techniques like focusing on the present, setting achievable goals, and practising relaxation methods can help keep future tripping at bay.


Overanalysing is the compulsion to dissect every aspect of a situation, decision, or interaction to an extreme degree. It often leads to paralysis by analysis, where the fear of making the wrong decision prevents any decision at all. This can be mitigated by setting time limits for decision-making, learning to trust one’s instincts, and understanding that perfection is unattainable and that some level of uncertainty is a natural part of life.

In conclusion, overthinking can manifest in various forms, hindering progress and causing undue stress. By recognising the specific type of overthinking one experiences, whether rumination, mindreading, future tripping, or overanalysing, individuals and organisations can employ targeted strategies to break free from unproductive thought cycles.

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