Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Are You Addicted to Overthinking?

Today you are in recovery, and you are well aware of the impact your thoughts have in your life. You notice an improved sense of wellbeing when you have control over your thoughts. And you most certainly notice the anxiety, obsession, and disconnect you feel when your thoughts are ruling over you. Being that the mind’s job is to think, trying to control it is like asking your lungs not to breathe – it won’t work. You would be trying to stop the natural order of things.

However, just because the mind is supposed to be used for strategizing, planning, and problem solving doesn’t mean that it has to have control over you. The mind can work for us, rather than against us.

Addicted to Overthinking

The legitimacy of being addicted to overthinking may be up for debate by some, while others can attest to the daily suffering caused by being consumed by their thoughts. This all-pervading need to analyze, fix, control, and manipulate the outcome is addictive thinking at its finest. If you are someone who rehashes the same scenario repeatedly, even though it’s not happening in present time, you are being consumed by your thoughts. If you tend to get caught up in negative future fantasy, you are not in reality; you are locked into worry mode. We all do this to some degree, but the key question is whether or not you have moved into addictive thinking territory.

Addictive overthinking is the gripping fear that the worst possible scenario will play out. Just like addiction to substances causes a person to become consumed with fear, worry, and doubt, overthinking and overanalyzing creates a sense of being bound to suffering. It takes you over and it’s difficult to be present and in your body.

Why does this happen? Because underneath the fears, subtle or not, there are emotions begging to be processed. For example, if you are nervous about an upcoming conversation, rather than being with the fear, the mind will try to play out every possible scenario. It wants you to “figure it out” and control the outcome. It wants you to feel empowered, safe, and in charge. Don’t drugs offer the same false promise?

When the mind is working for us, there is an invisible string that allows energy to move between the head and the heart. We are an integrated self, with an inner-compass that leads us and a mind that helps us strategize how to get from point A to point B. In other words, our mind, body, and emotions are working together. When this is the case, energy flows and thoughts rise and fall away. There is no fixation, just effortlessness.

But for those who tend to feel “too much,” overthinking often follows suit. It’s as if the mind tries to compensate for, or control, what the body would have to experience. When we are not ready to face the feelings, we tend to shoot up into our heads. It’s a way of managing our emotions, as well as trying to create a future that will not produce negative emotional responses inside of us. Unfortunately, for those overthinkers out there, there’s no way to control the future, no matter how many times you think it through. The best that can be created is to try to take back your power in the present moment. This is done by getting truthful about what emotion is asking to be allowed to exist. Until the emotions are allowed to exist, the mind will continue to try and compensate for them.

Taking Control of Your Mind

There are many methods for learning how to take control over your mind, rather than the other way around. Meditation, yoga, and breathwork are common methodologies. But I have found that if a person doesn’t give voice to their feelings, Eastern methods aren’t very fruitful. This is because, as soon as you are done with your practice, your emotions are still there. All it takes is a triggering situation to bring overthinking back to the forefront. Therefore, remember that if overthinking is present, there is an emotion that needs space to be worked through.

So how can you tell if you are overthinking? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I find myself up at night, worrying?
  • Do I rehash old scenarios repeatedly?
  • Am I fantasizing about what might happen?
  • Am I trying to come up with ways to manipulate a situation that really just needs to play out?

If you answer “yes” to these questions – and feel it is an ongoing state of mind for you – I invite you to consider what your fears are. I invite you to get help processing your emotions if it feels too big to do on your own. Overthinking is just another way of trying to gain control over a situation that feels unsettling. It’s a way to manage, and yet, as you know, it doesn’t work all that well.

The best solution to overthinking is to feel your feelings and address any untreated trauma. Incorporating practices such as exercise, meditation, and journaling are also very helpful. Remember, your mind is here to serve you, not the other way around!

Images Courtesy of iStock

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.