Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post

For the last few years, I’ve participated in the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hops, but rarely is there a theme so relevant as this month’s topic of overthinking.

The problem is, there’s so much to say on the topic I don’t know where to begin. This got me thinking about how we think, especially as intense, gifted and/or excitable women.

Recently in my League of Excitable Women Facebook group we got into a discussion about linear vs. nonlinear thinking.

For nonlinear thinkers like myself, a description that appealed to me about the way our thinking works is like a spiral or DNA helix. It doesn’t stay on one thing, but keeps coming back to it, perhaps at a deeper level the next time.

Excuse Me While I Overthink This Post - Free retreat planner inside

Another member described their thinking as “logical non-linear” like reading a map:

“I feel like my thinking is more like viewing a map and seeing the possibilities – there’s the fast efficient way of getting there, there’s the scenic route (maybe longer but more fun), the escape route (wtf did I do and how do I get out of it?), and of course the 5 other routes that will get you there but have no real value to add. When I overthink it’s like spontaneously adding stops to a road trip, the whole map needs to be reviewed and routes need to change which causes me to rethink every other point on the map.”

A more linear thinker described it this way,  “I have a very linear brain. I examine a problem carefully, from all angles, looking at all the possibilities. I plan something from beginning to end and like order and stability (sometimes too much). I can get hung up on the details, figuring out how they all fit together into the whole, and lose track of the whole.”

The common thread I see among most of the women I’ve worked with is the tendency to look at a problem from every possible angle. A more linear thinker might internally work out the most efficient route, but possibly get stuck on the details. A non-linear thinker might need external strucrures and supports in place to contain the inner chaos and move forward because there might not be one obvious beginning, middle and/or end.

Now I’d love to hear from you – would you describe yourself a a linear or non-linear thinker? What helps you get unstuck when you are caught in an overthinking loop?

This week I was inspired to create a short-term coaching offer called Focus Your Power to help you get clear on where to focus your energy, come up with a concrete plan of action to meet your goal and refine your plan for success. I’m offering the first 8 to sign up a discounted rate of $75. You can find out more here.

This post was written as a part of this month’s Hoagies’ Gifted Education Blog Hop on Overthinking. For more musings on my own overthinking and thoughts on what to do about it, you can listen to this week’s podcast – Overthink Much?

Comments (5)

  1. Great angle on this subject. You made me realize that what I wrote about for my own blog on overthinking is essentially non-linear thinking. I love the map metaphor! What helps me when I get stuck – usually because I’m seeing way too many promising scenic routes to take! – is to remember my highest priority. (Often I’ve thought about it in advance and written it down for just such an contingency.) I’m actually taking a staycation next week to work on creative projects and try to let my brain heal from lack of relaxation. (As a kid I really depended on summer break for my sanity; it was when I could immerse myself in creative work. Why did this vanish just because I’m no longer in school?! This is the greatest travesty of my life.) But while I DO want to spend time relaxing and not be pinned to goals of accomplishing things, I don’t want to fritter away my time, either, so I’m going to try to commit myself to a few preset goals. While allowing time for scenic routes if they emerge, of course! (Ah, yes, it’s obvious why this can be such a challenge, given all these goals to balance, huh?)

  2. Love the quotes, Aurora, and your photo. It looks like a painting. I enjoyed writing about this topic, too. And I’m definitely a nonlinear thinker.

  3. I really like your use of maps to describe the overthinking process, along with the difference with how linear and non-linear thinkers get stuck. Great ideas!

  4. Anna

    Hi, great post. too bad I have no facebook.
    I’m certainly non-linear and I’m not gifted, plain smart with a chaotic brain. But I do have an over(re)active nervous system. Both traits are inherited. One by one side of my family and the other from the other side. The best of both worlds! But the result is hard to handle. Sometimes it feels like throwing a stone in a pond and the ripples keep going long after. For good or bad thoughts. Sometimes it feels like a Newton’s cradle. Once it gets going, it takes effort, real effort to make it stop, if it can be stopped. Sometimes the best I can do is to bring it under control. And that is it. This second category is hard to manage. And I have found only two ways to manage it. One is writing it all down. The process of writing slows down the speed of my thoughts, and forces me to only think one thing at a time (crucial), so I have to really slow down and put thoughts in priority to make it happen. Then, I can actually see (read) the points where my thoughts form unproductive loops and deal with those points. It works great for me. The second way is somewhat weird, but for me it also works great. I play.. Tetris. I’m not a neuroscientist, and I cannot tell you why this happens. But it feels like while playing tetris some part of my brain gets occupied with this non-brainer activity (I’m tremendously good at it, and put no conscious effort whatsoever to play, just sort of keep my hands busy), and then magically my brain clears up. My thoughts become linear, organised, and it is so much easier to think clearly and with a purpose. I utilised this method with great success throughout my studies. It’s such a shame I cannot do the same at work! I would love to know what part of my brain gets occupied when I do that and suddenly all clouds disappear..
    Sorry for the long post.

    • A. Carolina

      What your brain does when playing Tetris is going into alpha-wave patterns, it’s well known for being good for problem solving and creativity. People often have the best ideas and solutions driving home from work, or doing things/ playing games that engages alpha-wave patterns. It’s really an interesting phenomenon – look it up, there’s a lot written about it. I also find it awesome that our brains seem to know this and often search for things that engage alpha-waves to relax and clear ones head quite unconsciously. Cool it works so well for you with Tetris!

Comments are closed.