Are you an analytical person?
Do you like to dig deeper and go under the surface?
If you relate to these 6 things then there’s no doubt you’re more analytical than most.
1. You ask a lot of questions
The first of the big signs you have a highly analytical mind is that you ask a lot of questions.
Even settled matters and things that everyone agrees on are fair play to question and dig into more deeply.
If you were raised religious, you may question the faith of your family.
If you were raised secular or atheist, you may question the secularism of your family.
If you were raised New Age, you may ask probing questions about why your parents or relatives felt drawn to such philosophies and what makes them true.
You’re full of questions because you’re full of fascination about life and the world and everything under the sun.
The desire to understand and analyze is more than idle curiosity: it’s who you are and it’s as necessary for you as oxygen and water.
2. You don’t buy into narratives
The next of the signs you have a highly analytical mind is that you don’t buy into narratives.
“All X people are good,” and “all X people are bad” are both equally meaningless to you.
You don’t jump on bandwagons, and you rarely even hitch a ride. They’re just not for you.
You prefer to dig beneath the surface of most narratives and examine complexity.
Whichever issues or experiences come up in your life, you seek to understand them more thoroughly and think them over from every angle.
“Free speech and liberty are non-negotiable and deeply sacred values” is an example of a narrative.
Are they? What about the context?
For a prisoner in North Korea who’s suffering in jail for criticizing the regime they certainly are!
But for a young man who becomes a violent fanatic online because of too much exposure to “free speech” they’re not exactly the greatest boon of all time.
Freedom could be the most wonderful gift in the world if you’re in jail, but the worst curse if you’re exiled from your family and told they won’t help you anymore financially or in any other way.
One man’s freedom is another man’s banishment, and one woman’s lifesaving liberty is another woman’s existential crisis…
This brings us to the next point…
3. You embrace complexity
Highly analytical people often supersede their own conclusions or only reach conclusions on a working basis.
They continue to question and probe the deeper meaning of a subject.
Take a typical narrative against organized religion, for example, which I heard many times growing up:
“Religion is just a crutch, man. It reassures people that everything will be fine so they can hide from the harshness of reality.”
This narrative seemed to make a certain sense with some devoutly religious people I met.
Some of them definitely seemed to be in a bit of a fairytale land.
I would hear some religious friends and mentors saying everything was “God’s will” even horrific tragedies being just things we don’t yet understand.
The recent Christian film “God’s Not Dead” goes down a similar road, claiming that what seems tragic and unfair to us is part of God’s “higher knowledge” and shouldn’t cause us to lose faith or hate God.
“God’s all good, all the time,” is frequently said in the film by the mild-mannered pastor and his kindly sidekick.
But if you’re an analytical person, the anti-religious narrative also won’t be enough to fully rope you in.
After all, is religion really a crutch? It certainly can be, but it can also be the exact opposite.
If you believe you will spend eternity in flames or bliss it puts a lot more pressure on you to care about what you do in life and take it seriously.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a crutch to me.
Further, even if an ideology is sometimes used as a crutch does that mean it’s necessarily untrue? No.
If a religion is “mean” does that necessarily make it untrue? If it’s “nice” or kind?
If something makes you feel good, bad, confused or happy does that necessarily pertain to its veracity? Of course not.
I don’t feel particularly great about cancer, but it still exists and is real.
Christian existentialist Soren Kierkegaard, for example, changed the world with his deep examinations of the nature of God and humanity in talking about how what seems terrible to us or unfair about God may still be true and unfair or destructive to life in a sense.
This goes much further than a cut-and-paste philosophy like “God’s Not Dead,” or the “religion is a crutch,” because it is able to think critically instead of just Option A or B.
This leads directly to the next point:
4. You probe easy assumptions
The next of the key signs you have a highly analytical mind is that you question easy assumptions.
It’s easy to say God exists or God doesn’t exist. But what about getting more complex.
If God exists, what is God and how does such a supreme being function?
If God doesn’t exist, what God doesn’t exist, exactly and what does its nonexistence mean for us?
To take it deeper, what about getting down to the very basic and foundational level:
What does it actually mean to exist?
What is existence?
People like philosopher Martin Heidegger probe exactly such questions.
In his book Zeit und Sein (Being and Time) Heidegger explores the relation between existence and the passage of time to try to find out exactly what it means to exist or not exist.
Now that’s getting deep!
If you’re interested in going this deep then there’s no doubt you have a deeply analytical mind.
5. You play devil’s advocate
On a similar note to that of rejecting narratives, you also have signs of a highly analytical mind if you enjoy playing devil’s advocate.
Take the subject of religion, again, because it interests me in particular and I believe questions of ultimate meaning are extremely important.
You will often hear from some people that they are “spiritual but not religious,” or that they respect many religious teachings but “have issues with organized religion.”
Growing up in liberal Canada I heard such statements so many times that I began to already know every word I’d hear when the subject came up with most people.
If you play devil’s advocate, at least mentally probe whether such widely held beliefs or openly question them and dig into them.
As two quick examples of counterpoints:
What makes spirituality better than religion?
What about the many times that spirituality has led down some very odd rabbitholes and even into cults and authoritarian political systems (North Korea, for example?)
Oh, that isn’t the kind of spirituality they meant. How convenient.
And as for the issues with organized religion?
What about the enormous good done by many religions over the centuries?
Before the Prophet Muhammad young female babies were buried to die in the sand in Arabia, which he outlawed. He also unified many warring tribes and brought religious revelation to widespread peoples.
Judaism did enormous good in aiding the survival of an entire people, as symbolized by Hannukah.
Hinduism brought many benefits and hope to hundreds of millions and continues to this day.
What about the good that continues to be done by many religious charities to this day?
Yes, but they’re quite sure religion has done more harm than good overall, plus religion doesn’t make you a better person (a red herring and very hard thing to prove or disprove).
Dislike of ‘organized’ religion can be psychologically linked directly to a problem with authority figures and disordered thinking. There are plenty of counterpoints of highly anarchic and ‘free’ religious systems which have ended in much more disaster, bloodshed and misery than any organized religion.
And so the devil’s advocate continues…
6. You are able to separate emotion and reason
In the above example, you may be a very non-religious person. You may even be “spiritual but not religious.” You may hate “organized religion.”
But you are personally able to argue as a devil’s advocate and analyze at a much deeper level because you are able to separate emotion and reason.
In other words, you are able to look at the facts and counterarguments of any subject without just automatically ceding to your own feelings on the subject.
Simultaneously, you are able to believe something is true, such as “religion is, in sum, a positive influence on the world” or “religion is, in sum, a harmful influence on the world,” while admitting your own emotions on the subject may differ significantly from your rational conclusion on the subject.
This example of critical thinking is integral to being an analytical person, because it means the truth matters to you.
I may love marriage and the institution of marriage, but I can hear somebody explain negative historical consequences of marriage and factually agree that they have made many valid and true points.
This is analysis: the ability to look at a subject while also acknowledging our own bias and being able to take it into account.
Being an overthinker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re like some character out of an overly cerebral Woody Allen film.
You may not fidget nervously or be shy around members of the opposite sex.
Stereotypes, after all, are really just another narrative. Frankly, stereotypes may often be true, but they aren’t particularly profound or interesting.
As an analytical person you may find yourself sometimes sliding over into overthinking, but the two are not the same.
Being analytical means you are a truth seeker who cares about facts and also cares about your own position in relation to such facts as you find.
Analysis is about results, not just idle curiosity, and many of the greatest achievements and breakthroughs in society were made by analytical people just like you and me who were able to tie analysis directly to action and implementation!