People who overthink and create imaginary problems for themselves often have these 8 character traits

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a Chinese takeout. I opened my fortune cookie and guess what it read?

“You have an active imagination and a creative mind”.

The audacity, right? This obnoxious cookie was basically saying:

“You overthink and you see things, you absolute, total bonehead”.

OK, so maybe it didn’t exactly say that. But there was the problem!

My imagination runs wild at the slightest of things. I overthink without even meaning to. Begrudgingly, I admit it – that fortune cookie was right.

I DO have a very creative mind – and it leads me to create imaginary problems for myself all the time. And I know I’m not the only one who does this!

But as it turns out, we overthinkers are a little special. We have traits that few others have. Some are good, some are bad, but all of them make us who we are.

Here they are:

1) You have a lot of empathy

“I care too much” sounds like a phony answer to an interview question about your weaknesses. But when it comes to overthinkers, it’s true! You DO care too much.

It’s why you overthink everything. Sure, you mean well most of the time. You want the best for yourself and everyone else around you. You want to protect yourself and the people you love. You even want to protect people you don’t know!

But sometimes it does you (and others) more harm than good.

Like when you socialize, you can’t sleep that night because you’re pondering something you said. You go down a rabbit hole thinking you might have hurt them.

Then you end up obsessing over it, calling yourself a bad person, or going out of your way to do something differently. When more than likely, there was never a problem with what you said to begin with!

2) You’re very observant

I remember I was dating this guy once and I picked up on a slight mood change. I explained why to a friend and she thought I was crazy! In the politest way possible, she told me I was reading into it and everything seemed fine.

But sure enough, a few days later, that guy ended things with me. So how did I know that was going to happen?

My observance.

Your tendency to overthink doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It comes from how much you see, hear, and observe in everyday life. Which, in your case, is a lot.

Of course, it does mean that you read into things a little too much sometimes. Like I’ve had the above happen to me when nothing was wrong at all…

So sometimes your observance works in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t.

3) You have an excellent memory

How could you possibly overthink things if you didn’t remember every single word that was said at a party? Or every single word YOU said to a friend 10 years ago when their dog died?

Exactly, you couldn’t! Your relentless ability to remember everything is what creates so much drama in your life.

If you couldn’t remember every detail of your first date with that guy, you wouldn’t deduce that he’s not the one for you.

Just like if you couldn’t remember everything your friend gossiped to you about another friend, you wouldn’t walk on eggshells around them whenever you wanted to do those things yourself.

Your memory really is incredible, and it serves you well through most of your life. But sometimes, it does lead you to create more problems, mostly for yourself…

4) You’re sensitive

I think we all knew this one was going to be on this list somewhere! People who overthink are renowned for their sensitivity. Trust me, I know!

As a highly sensitive person, I know exactly where my brain gets me sometimes – feeling hurt by things that really weren’t that deep.

It can make a flippant comment turn into a full-blown argument. It can make a casual action lead to cutting off a friend. It can even lead one backstory to a breakup…

As you probably know, sensitive people are often ridiculed for it. “You’re so sensitive”, someone will say – usually in an attempt to get away with something hurtful they’ve just said.

When you use your sensitivity to your advantage, it can actually be your best trait. You can build fulfilling relationships and a more meaningful career.

So long as you don’t use it to create imaginary problems for yourself all the time…

5) You struggle to trust others

You’re happy to deep-dive into another person’s mind to understand the who, what, when, where, and why. But you still struggle sometimes.

While you may understand where someone was coming from, it’s all assumptions. You don’t really know what was going on in their head.

A million other reasons could have been behind why they did or said something – and a lot of those reasons don’t sit right with you.

Even if you talked to them about it, they may give a different answer from what you were expecting. Which can give you even more reason to lack trust in them.

So sometimes, you really struggle to trust people’s intentions or even believe them at their word. To you, things need to make sense to be real. If it doesn’t make sense, you end up creating problems that aren’t there…

6) You find it hard to open up

Opening up is hard for you because of your trust issues, but that isn’t the only reason why it’s difficult. It’s also because your brain invents issues with your own thoughts.

Like when you consider telling a friend about your relationship troubles. You second guess yourself, because will they think badly about your partner? Will they tell someone else you know?

Will telling them make you sound whiney or spoiled? Will they think you’re weak or insecure? Will they think you’re digging them out because of what they told you about their relationship last week?

These kinds of thoughts cross your mind whenever you think about opening up to someone. So instead of just seeing it as you’re getting something off your chest – no malice, no ulterior motive, and no consequences – you see it as a challenge that needs to be overcome.

Before you open your mouth to speak, you strategize everything you’re about to say. Sometimes, it even leads you to say nothing at all…

7) You’re highly intelligent

Being an “overthinker” is often branded a bad thing – and granted, most things on this list aren’t so positive themselves!

But there’s a strength in being so analytical. What is that strength?

Emotional intelligence.

That’s right. People who overthink to the point they create problems for themselves have high emotional intelligence.

Which means, you’re actually very, very smart!

You understand people more than they understand themselves. All it normally takes to suss someone out is a short meeting with them.

Your emotional intelligence helps you out most of the time. But sometimes it can lead you down a darker path – creating excuses for people’s bad behavior instead of reasons…

8) You’re indecisive

Imagine there’s a riff in your friendship group. Everyone’s taking sides. These people think this person is wrong and these people think that person is wrong.

What do you do? You sit on the fence. You don’t pick a side. You see both perspectives and struggle to decide who’s really in the wrong.

In these situations, your indecisiveness serves you well. It’s what makes you so kind, caring, compassionate, and mature.

But in other situations, your indecisiveness gets the better of you! Making decisions becomes harder when you can see both sides.

Like when you have to choose between two jobs. You see the good and bad in both. Or when you have to pick your thesis. There are pros and cons to everything!

Sometimes your indecision brings you to a halt, leaving you silent and exhausted, unable to make any decisions at all.

And while it’s good to make considered decisions and not rush into things, you can consider a decision too much. Sometimes, you just have to take the leap and go for it!

Final thoughts

So, what does all this mean? Are you doomed as a person because you overthink things and have a big imagination? No way!

If you couldn’t already tell, there’s a whole lot of good that comes from – as my fortune cookie put it – your “active imagination and creative mind”.

But yes, it’s true that your imagination can get you in trouble. The gut feeling you have that sparks your creativity invents problems that don’t even exist!

So even though I’m all for trusting your gut instincts, maybe let them go once in a while?

Give people (and yourself) the benefit of the doubt more often. Take a risk and say how you feel once in a while – without overthinking the consequences!

Let your imagination be your strength – and let fate deal with the rest!

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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