8 Types of Overthinking

The mind is constantly taking in everything around you and trying to make sense of it, assigning everything you hear or see a feeling, emotion, memory, or thought.

You’re bound to get stuck on one of these thoughts from time to time, but it’s when you stay stuck on one for too long that thinking becomes no longer helpful but harmful.

The first step toward slowing down these anxious thoughts is getting acquainted with some common types of overthinking, so you become more aware of it as it’s happening and call your brain out on it.

What are the 8 types of overthinking?


Worries about the future


Rumination about the past


“Big Picture” Overthinking










Mental Chatter

1. Worries about the future

How often do you pause to consider worst-case scenarios? When you continually ask yourself “what if,” you are taking on the role of the fortune teller in your own life – only the type of fortune teller that you don’t want to find yourself sitting across a small round table from.

The future is filled with unknowns, and there is always the possibility of not-so-ideal outcomes. That said, there is also the possibility for the opposite, so if you are a fortune-teller type of overthinker, it will help you to start paying attention to the good in your life. If you make conscious efforts to see the silver lining of each past or present moment, you can begin to develop an attitude where optimistic thoughts come more naturally. After all, you’re here reading this right now, which means you’ve made it through everything up to this point, right?

2. Rumination about the past

We all tend to replay past events in our minds, particularly those that hurt us. You might be harping on yourself for whatever role you played in that less than favorable event, shaming yourself for a mistake.

There are quite a few reasons you might be quick to experience shame, but if you tend to get stuck ruminating on the past, your self-blame is more than likely due to the natural human tendency to search for causal explanations. 

Yet, shaming yourself to gain control of your life will come at the price of positive mental health, so forgive yourself with self-compassion, and remember that shame eventually fades. And in the cases where you need to step out of your comfort zone and confess something, it’s essential to do what you feel needs to be done to move forward.

3. “Big Picture” Overthinking 

“Big picture” overthinking means getting stuck on an outcome of something like global warming or the Coronavirus. If you experience high levels of anxiety that are triggered by things you cannot control, it will help you to learn how to sit with the uncomfortable sensations and emotions of anxiety.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help you accept your emotional experience – your anxiety is a part of you, and it’s designed to keep you safe. Hence, the key is not to ignore it but let it be as it is and welcome it in with acceptance.

4. Mindreading

So, you think you’re a mind reader, huh? Do you feel quite sure of how others view you? The problem with overthinking how others perceive you is that it’s a straight shot to your self-esteem, and you’re the one pulling the trigger.

Similar to how shame can motivate us to carry out positive behaviors like owning up or apologizing, the fear that we lack friendships or intimacy can sometimes be useful. But too much worry over what other people think can trigger and exacerbate anxiety, causing us to feel insecure or alienated.

 One way to diminish your mindreading skills is through mindfulness; specifically, a practice called attentional control, where you pay more attention only to things you want to focus on.

5. Indecisiveness

When faced with a relatively minor decision that needs to be made, such as where to get dinner or whether you should bring a jacket with you, how quickly do you decide? We all like to joke and label ourselves as indecisive people, but this is a real type of overthinking that can consume a lot of your time and energy. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to decide between the all-natural toothpaste and the one that whitens better, but try not to stand at the store all day or walk away empty-handed. Either way, you need toothpaste, just like you need to be able to make decisions. 

Take time to connect to your values and continually act according to them; it will bring more meaning, quality, and a sense of independence to your life.

6. Hopelessness

You might get stuck in unproductive negative thought loops about yourself surrounding a particular circumstance, sayings things like “there’s no use in trying” or “I won’t get better.” In this case, remember that your thoughts are not facts! Although, your subconscious mind is programmed to respond the way you speak to it, so be mindful of what you say.

7. Worthlessness

Do you frequently catch yourself saying negative thoughts about yourself that make you feel worthless, like how you will never achieve a certain thing or aren’t good enough? Feelings of worthlessness can stem from circumstantial setbacks or thoughts that you have nothing valuable to offer the world.

These negative thoughts can be challenging to overcome the longer they persist and evolve, and they can impact your daily life. A therapy like ACT will encourage you to develop accepting and compassionate relationships with your thoughts and experiences. 

Take time to connect to your values and continually act according to them; it will bring more meaning, quality, and a sense of independence to your life.

You are not alone if you frequently experience repetitive or excessive thoughts. You’re also not alone if you do not always realize you’re doing it.

But what you do know is that your mind feels constantly cloudy. Yet, somewhere in the space between those crowded thoughts, you understand that your overthinking keeps you from enjoying the present moment.

No matter what type of overthinker you are (maybe all of them), mindfulness-based therapies and techniques will help you become aware of these thoughts and notice that they are just passing through. Your thoughts will always come and go like clouds in the sky, and there is no need or purpose in clinging to them.

If you struggle with anxious, self-critical, racing thoughts and consider yourself an overthinker then don’t worry..I’ve got you…Check out The Overthinking Toolkit.

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