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zander101's avatar

Is Overthinking Ever Justified In Any Situation?

Asked by zander101 (630points) September 28th, 2013

Does overthinking in one’s opinion, justifiable in any situation?

Like for example: Realize that you will lose your job?
Realize that you’ll lose someone you care about?
Know that you will end up getting into argument with someone?

Express? Opinion?

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11 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s a heck of a lot better than underthinking as long as you don’t get paralyzed and can make a decision.

thorninmud's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with anticipating the consequences of actions and choices. The ability to do that has been a huge evolutionary boon to humans. It keeps us from doing crazy shit. That’s not what “overthinking” means to me.

Overthinking, in my book, is unnecessarily complicating things. Very often intuition is a more efficient guide than thinking, because it doesn’t get bogged down in complication; it’s fast and economical. Sometimes you just “know” how to proceed, without necessarily being able to explain how you know. If you’re good at tuning into that intuition and trust it, things can go amazingly smoothly. This is what some call the “flow” experience. Thinking just gets in the way.

But intuition doesn’t function well in all situations. There are plenty of times when it will lead to wrong conclusions, and only careful thought, as cumbersome as it may be, will show the way. The essential thing is to understand where intuition’s weaknesses are.

drhat77's avatar

If you need an answer more quickly thank overthinking can provide, yes, that’s bad.
Most of the time people overthink is because they are too emotionally invested in the problem and spend 99% of the overthinking process covering the same ground over and over. THis is very frustrating and exhausting. But if you are that invested, it’s a hard cycle to break.

DWW25921's avatar

Usually when I over think something I create a problem that isn’t really there. Sometimes your gut feeling, or first response is best.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, if the Grizzly bear is charging you, you better just react, if you take the time to overthink whether you should run, play dead, or climb the nearest tree you are going to be shredded like a head of lettuce. Sometimes one must just react in the moment and over thinking can be highly neurotic.

Blondesjon's avatar


just remember that sometimes no thinking is preferable to over thinking and wisdom is understanding the ratio

gorillapaws's avatar

Bomb disarming comes to mind…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Took my teenage nephew on a driving lesson tonight. Wish I’d over thought that decision.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If Stanislav Petrov hadn’t taken a moment for second thoughts in the situation he was confronted with in 1983, not only would we be dead, but the earth very likely would be as well. Overthinking, as it is used in this string, can be a very good thing. I think more damage is done when there is a rush to judgment.

Trouble comes when information alone doesn’t suggest a solution and you find yourself standing on a fence. This is when one’s education as to “the big picture,” experience, and/or a strong moral compass is valuable. Taking a wholistic view of the ramifications of your options is the definition of wisdom. Having been, witnessed, or read about a similar situation is very helpful. A strong sense of right and wrong, a sense of justice, is invaluable. If considering these things when solving serious problems is overthinking, then I’m all for it.

srmorgan's avatar

Not strictly on target but I have found that the amount of thought that must go into a decision is directly proportional to the effort you must expend to undo it. This applies mostly to the decision- making.process
To my mind, the more emotional a situation, don’t overthink it. Something data driven, think abuot it and try to see it from all sides.

From experience, do not try to overthink affairs of the heart. They are unpredictable, the reasons for doing something are inexplicable and overthinking won’t change the result.


mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, when there’s no rush.

Suppose a person is bleeding like hell. Death is imminent. Doctors need to act fast.

Suppose a person comes to a hospital with a strange mix of symptoms. Then you need Dr. House and his team doing a lot of thinking to avoid wrong diagnoses.

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