When I was in college, there was a student who lived in my dorm who regularly surveyed other students about which outfit she should wear. Sometimes, she would go door to door soliciting opinions. Although most people were polite enough to tell her which outfit looked better, in reality, no one cared what she wore to calculus class or the gym.
While everyone overthinks situations once in a while, some people are plagued with a constant barrage of thoughts all the time. Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make, and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day. Thinking too much about something often involves more than words--overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too.
Overthinking often involves two destructive thought patterns--ruminating and incessant worrying.
Ruminating involves dwelling on the past. "I should have stayed at my last job. I would be happier than I am now.""My parents didn't teach me how to be confident. My insecurities have always held me back."
Persistent worrying involves negative predictions about the future. "I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I'm going to forget everything I'm supposed to say."
Imagine that you're sitting at a poker table. You're dealt cards the same way as everyone else, and you're playing by the same rules. The thing is, you've got an advantage: You can see everyone else's cards, and they can't see yours. How many hands would you play wrong?
We live in a society that demands specialization. Being the best means being an expert in something. A byproduct of this niche focus is that it narrows the ways we think we can apply our knowledge without being called a fraud.
We should apply all the knowledge at our disposal to the problems and challenges we face every day.