9 signs you’re a high-functioning overthinker

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Overthinking can be a real hassle. 

You find that even the simplest issue or decision keeps you wrapped up in analysis for hours. 

But there are those of us who are overthinkers but still manage to get quite a bit done. 

Here are the top signs that you’re one of them. 

1) Your overthinking makes you lose sleep (but not always)

Your overthinking can definitely get out of hand. 

You start thinking about when you have to get the oil changed next on your car, and then you start thinking about the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry and wondering when EVs will become more popular than gas-powered vehicles. 

It’s now 4:35 a.m. and you’re thinking about why the price of gas has been fluctuating so much and whether it could affect the industry you work in, as well as whether the fights with your girlfriend are going to continue.

It’s now 5:47 a.m. and you decide to call it a day (or a night, as it were). 

You’ve had sleepless nights and mornings when you felt like you were in an episode of the Walking Dead. 

But it isn’t every night and it’s not every morning. 

Sometimes you get a good sleep and wake up feeling relatively normal. 

In such a way you keep on keeping on, and even though you have some definite down days you’re a high-functioning overthinker.

2) You experience real anxiety from overthinking (but have strategies to calm down)

Overthinking can get you feeling very anxious and stressed, but you always have effective ways to calm down

Overthinkers who end up having real breakdowns and being unable to function just get more and more anxious before eventually melting down completely. 

You, on the other hand, reach real peaks of anxiety and mental disturbance, but when you’re right about to break you go for a massive run, or a hike, or start meditating for a few days. 

By being just self-aware enough and able to look after yourself in time you manage to avoid missing much work or falling through the cracks in the way other overthinkers often do. 

3) You fall into depressive periods due to overthinking (but you find things to lift you back up)

Overthinking can lead into some sad and dark areas. 

For example, I used to spend years overthinking about death: my own, people I know, even strangers I met. 

It was morose and contributed to a serious struggle with depression

The fact is that sooner or later everyone thinks about those kinds of topics and struggles with them, but overthinkers end up finding it even harder to get out of their head. 

The difference between an overthinker who gets too depressed to continue and one who cycles in and out of depression is that as a high-functioning overthinker you also have things that bring you joy. 

Even though your overthinking sometimes makes you very depressed, other things (like the delicious meal you just ate or the pretty girl you just met) also make you very happy. 

So you keep on trucking… 

4) You second-guess past decisions you made on a regular basis (but you still make new ones)

The next sign that you’re a high-functioning overthinker is that your second-guessing of past decisions doesn’t stop you from making new decisions. 

You wonder whether it was the right decision to move to this new place…

You worry endlessly about the relationship you got into a year ago that went so wrong…

You overanalyze your new diet to the point of obsession and decide to discontinue it before overanalyzing whether discontinuing it was a mistake…

But you still make new decisions. 

You move to another place, enter a different relationship, try another diet.

Despite the problems your overthinking causes you, it hasn’t completely frozen you. You are still in motion and still choosing new things despite the endless knots that your monkey mind is tying you in.

5) You try to outsource decisions to other people (but don’t always listen)

Part of overthinking is being very swayed by the opinions of others and overanalyzing what other people think or might think or will think. 

At times, us overthinkers may try to alleviate this pressure by outsourcing decisions or asking advice from many people. 

Low-functioning overthinkers do this without being able to stop and end up in an endless web of outsourcing decisions and blaming or praising others for what happens in their lives. 

High-functioning overthinkers, by contrast, are torn between their desire to outsource their decisions and their inner instinct to still maintain control over their own life. 

This knowledge that you can’t ultimately let somebody else run your life usually brings the high-functioning overthinker back to reality to make sure that decisions and big life moments are still somewhat in their control. 

6) You have trouble accepting simple facts (but you eventually do)

Overthinkers have trouble taking “yes” for an answer. 

If you tend to overanalyze then you know how hard it can be to accept simple facts and simple answers. 

“What’s the catch?” you want to know…

Sometimes there is no catch. 

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 

Sometimes a good job offer is just a good job offer!

And so on. 

When you’re a high-functioning overthinker you’re able to sometimes shut off this worrying, paranoid inner voice and accept things for what they are. 

And even if you still have your doubts, you also have enough control to rule over them a lot of the time. 

7) You often question official narratives and news stories (but not to the point of paranoia)

The news is clearly threaded with inaccuracies and occasionally outright lies. 

It allows politicians and many other people who tell bald-faced lies. 

As an overthinker you may start to believe almost everything you hear is untrue or doubt the veracity of large amounts of it. 

But you do this more as a mental exercise, partly because you know that just on a rational basis there must be at least some of what you’re hearing that’s accurate. 

As a result you avoid full-scale paranoia or descending so deeply down the conspiracy rabbit hole that you can’t live your life. 

Unlike low-functioning overthinkers who may start doubting and fearing every single regular part of life and disbelieve almost anything they’re told, you’re still able to get on with your life despite the fact that you do mistrust many aspects of the news, government and other official bodies.

8) Your overthinking stresses you out at work (but you also turn your overthinking into business opportunities)

At work you often catch yourself overthinking and overanalyzing what you’re doing. 

You start to wonder if you’re even in the right line of work on a fairly regular basis and may get lost in fears or hopes about your business at times. 

But unlike overthinkers who really fall through the cracks, you are able to turn at least some of your overthinking into business opportunities. 

For example, if you own a pool maintenance and aquatic repair and supplies store, you may find yourself thinking a lot about criticisms you’ve heard of chlorine and popular forms of pool filters. 

You then find out about other more natural ways of sanitizing pools that use much less chlorine, but if you switch to these many of your customer base will be confused and it would be hard to explain it to them. 

So you start by selling a little bit of the new products and new kinds of pumps and transition your way into the new system a bit at a time, analyzing the whole time about the best ways to educate pool owners on your new product line.

9) You overthink frequently (but you still make real decisions)

The real dividing line between a high-functioning overthinker and an overthinker who can’t get anything done is whether they can still make real decisions. 

As a high-functioning overthinker you get lost in your thoughts quite often, but you still make actual decisions and follow them through. 

You also rethink decisions and what you’re doing frequently, but not to the extent that you actually cancel or go back on what you’ve chosen.

This is a key distinction, because low-functioning overthinkers tend to overthink to such an extent that they not only have trouble making decisions, any decisions they do make they usually double back on or rethink. 

As a result they go around and around in circles, whereas you, at least, are going somewhere, even if you’re not quite sure where! 

Can you stop overthinking?

The question of how much overthinking can be controlled or curbed is open to debate. 

There’s no doubt that some of us are simply much more prone to overanalysis and overthinking than others. 

The only certainty is that it is possible to focus more of your attention on outcomes and separate yourself from your overthinking proclivities.

Yes, you are prone to overthinking, but it doesn’t have to control you or run your life!

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

10 unexpected lessons life teaches you when you’re down

10 things you don’t owe anyone, not even your partner