What causes people to over-analyze situations and how many people do it?

United States
January 5, 2007 5:14pm CST
I'm an over-analyzer. It never fails that I am constantly thinking over situations, trying to figure out the possible outcomes. I have often speculated that it's because I don't want to get hurt, or I want to make sure I'm prepared for whatever may happen...but in essence, isn't that fear, also? I will often find myself playing out conversations in my head about what I would say if this happened, or what I would do if this happened. I mean, I will even study right down to the tone of voice or the way the body moved when it was said. Anyone else do this? Is this just a female thing? Is this just a me thing? (Maybe I need a psychiatrist *grin*).
6 people like this
50 responses
@shywolf (4529)
• United States
6 Jan 07
I do the same thing all the time. And no, I don't think that you need a psychiatrist!! LOL! Not at all ^_^ I do think that it is more of a female thing to think and feel and behave this way. I am just really into trying to analyze every aspect of my life. I'm not sure if I do it down to the detail that you do, but I constantly lay in bed going over what I could say or do or what I've said and done and how others might have perceived it. It is partly from not wanting to be hurt, yes, as you said. I'm a very sensitive and shy person, and I really don't like confrontation, and analyzing things and trying to take the best course is one way to try to avoid bad things happening like confrontations.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
Thanks for responding! :) I don't exactly go down to the detail on everything, so that is SOME respite, but when I'm in a conflict of some sort, I can really worry myself into a hole. I really want to be prepared in how to respond and to know every possible outcome...so as you said, I think it is more of a fear thing on my part. Fear of being hurt or having someone turn someone against me. That may sound extremely high-schoolish in nature of interaction, but oddly enough, one of my relatives behaves this way and causes trouble wiht me and my family all the time. I'm having to learn to ignore this person and simply go on about my business...but it's hard because you never know what this person is discussing with others and what they maybe saying behind your back. That kind of stuff really gets under my skin.
• United States
6 Jan 07
maybe it is more of a female thing. I'm contantly doing this especially in front of a mirror. sometimes my husband finds me doing this and laughs his butt off.I also have vivid dreams where I analyze and play out scenarios in my dreams sometimes its creepy and I talk in my sleep.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
AAAAH!! I talk in my sleep too!! Sometimes I play out scenarios in my head in a dream type situation to go to sleep!!! AH, this is getting freaky!! :D
@budsr03 (2355)
• Canada
6 Jan 07
It's not just you. My mind talks to itself also.LOL! I'm pretty much self taught when it comes to discussions,disagreements,conflicts etc. Communication wasn't a positive thing with my family. My foot can fit in my mouth, its' been done in the past, so thats one reason why I analyze. I am sensitive to my own feelings but more sensitive as to how I make a person feel. Bite your toung but don't bite it off. Good Luck Sarahbeth.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
Ah yes, I am also familiar with this - I, too, have often said stupid things...especially when I'm nervous - I'm so eager to make a good impression that I say the wrong thing *grin* - but that's usually when I'm making a first impression. But I think that does have something to do with why I over-analyze. I care deeply about hurting those around me...for the most part *grin*. There ARE times when people who are simply arrogant and rude don't bother me and I'll tell them the way it is just to wipe the self-indignation off of their faces.
@budsr03 (2355)
• Canada
6 Jan 07
Thanks for getting back to me! I will do the same.
• United States
7 Jan 07
By the way, I evidently was distracted in the middle of that comment - I just reread it and realized how wierd it sounded *grin*. Anyway - it was good talking with you!
@nilzerous1 (2437)
• India
6 Jan 07
First of all a quick reply to the burning problem that you are facing: It is nice to listen that you try to figure out each possible outcome. It is not just you but every individual thinks like that, ( "I do not want to get hurt"). Playing out conversations is natural so far and so long it does not get into a murmuring habbit. Anyway coming back to your first point, it is a good practice if you can limit such analysis to one or two subject of your interest, like for anyone interested in webpublishing must analyse the performance of his/her websites in search engines. An Engineer needs to analyse the possible outcome of a design change. Likewise, A Brand Mktg. Manager needs to analyse the outcome while branding a product. But those analysis must follow a certain logic. It must have substancial issues. But like you have said, if you go on thinking on every single happening around you, if you try to figure out the outcomes whenever something, even trivial, happens, then it requires a serious thought. Regarding this I read a nice book and want to share with you. Whenever something happens, just classify the importance of the happening. Either in the category: 1) Does it make any difference? (DMAD) or, 2) It makes a lot of difference. (IMAD) What are the "does it make any difference (DMAD)" like incidents? Try put things in this category as much as is possible. Most of the things in our life , about 99.99%, does not make any difference. So, simply ignore them without thinking of the outcome. For example, when you go to shop, you may have to wait for few minutes before the goods are delivered. Do not get irritated if that does not really pose any major problem. Simply ignore that. Forget that it happened anytime. It will stop thought processes relating to rather non-serious issues. Focus more on serious issues, may be, personal or academic or professional or social issues. As you can think of the outcome, you can help yourself, your friends and even the society as a whole if you use this power in proper way. It is a blessing in disguise. Use it as a weapon and do not over-use it. Hope this will help you a lot to come out of the situation you are at present.
• United States
6 Jan 07
But that's the problem - I don't seem to choose what it is that causes me to worry and analyze the situations that I do - it tends to be those things that bother me the most. I can't pick and choose - I TRY to, but I still get worried over things I should probably not even waste my time on - learning to let go is a difficult thing to do, and maybe it's a part of growing up that I haven't mastered yet, either.
• India
7 Jan 07
So whenever something, means anything happens, you just keep on thinking about it whether it is an important issue or not. Do you have sleeping disorder, if so, I'll definitely advice you to consult a Doctor. If that is not the case, please try to sleep atleast for half an hour if something occupies your mind unnaturally. It will help to reactivate your brain cells and restore normal brain activiy. It has helped a lot of people I know (including me). Anyway, trust me, just start to ignore the happenings around you. Look, it is difficult, (rather IMPOSSIBLE) to change the world around you, so, better change yourself. Just from this moment after reading my reply. DMAD ("Does it make any difference") works if you want it to work. It is upto you. Start implement it right now and see the changes.
• United States
6 Jan 07
I've read a while back that over-analyzers come from dominant fathers and indecisive mothers...not sure if this applies to you. But I think you pretty much answered your own question on why you do it. I analyze sometimes, but I've found that going with your instinct is a far better choice than analyzing and choosing with the mind who can't ever make up it's mind!
1 person likes this
@pr4pyaar (308)
• India
29 Jan 07
not against what you have read, but i am an over-analyzer and in my parents case, the scenario is the other way round, my mother is dominant and my father like me, or rather me like him are indecisive... and the reason for the over-analysis is that i dont want to be lose, that could be losing anything, could be getting embaressed also, no i m not going to let it happen...
1 person likes this
@20021985 (109)
• India
6 Jan 07
People generally over analyze because they care so much. They are hesitant to take that littile risk and also because they think more from heart rather than mind. Analyzing is good but overanalyzing is root for tension and it tends to spoil things.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
I can agree with this - I do care an extreme amount over people and things - I have often been told that I seem to wear my heart on my sleeve. I hate that comment, but it's something that I haven't been able to change. How do you toughen up, anyway?
• United States
6 Jan 07
Well if you need a psychiatrist then I do to I think we all do this and sometimes when a situation occurs you think of everything you would have like to have done or said. i believe it is a female thing.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
How does a psychiatrist help you, anyway? I never understood what it is that you learn while on the couch. Do they help you find what the actual problem is? Or is it just talking through your emotions?
@medooley (1875)
• United States
6 Jan 07
I do do this, but my wife does. She over thinks everything. I do believe that it is because she doesn't want to get hurt, which I totally understand. I really don't think that there is anything wrong with over thinking stuff. I think that the only reason how it could possibly be bad is if it start to interfear with you life. If you are starting to not get tasks done then you need to because you are over thinking stuff, then I think you may need to talk to someone. But if it is not then I think you are okay, just think away!
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
That's the problem - if the issue is important enough, I find myself shutting down almost and unable to really focus on my job. I envy the people (and it's men that I've met that can mostly do this) who can simply shut off their emotions and be in work mode. Unfortunately, my life includes my work, and everything is personal...THAT's the biggest problem of all because I end up taking my work issues home with me and not being able to leave them at the door when I leave.
@zipporah (151)
• Philippines
6 Jan 07
I understand why you are acting that way... I, sometimes feel the same way... still wondering if it is more of a woman's side coz I rarely see guys to act like that way, unless of course there is something wrong. People do things coz they are just reacting to the environment or how situations asked for it. In my opinion, you just dont want to get hurt, like I said I feel the same way too... I hate being cheated as I am so honest to goodness loyal and for whatever and however, I expected the same thing too.. and it is not hard to ask from your boyfriend or girlfriend or freinds right? I mean, just dont hurt other people and that's it. No you dont need a psychiatrist, I guess you just need a friend who are willing to listen to you. I am here for you.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
*grin* Thanks :) - I appreciate you saying that :). I do often wonder why others don't think about others feelings. Your question brings up quite a lot of issues in my mind - and I don't know if this is going to make sense...but I almost wonder if I'm a self-presevationist hidden by a selfless person *grin*...because ultimately, if I take care of the people around me and keep them happy, they won't hurt me...does that make any sense? That may not even match your response, but for some reason, that's what it made me think of *grin*.
@mbs730 (2156)
• Canada
6 Jan 07
I am the same way too. I am a perfectionist and because of that I am afraid to try something because of being afraid of making a mistake. I have missed out on a lot due to that unfortunately.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
Sometimes I wonder what all I have missed out on because I was afraid to try something. I've been blessed in my life to succeed at quite a few things and so I just stuck to the things that I was good at...but I do wonder now if maybe my life would have turned out differently if I had not simply gone with those things and stepped out to try new stuff. I'm not sure if I'm a perfectionist, but I am someone who can't delegate well...I'm afraid that if they don't do it the way I expect, it won't be done correctly...and I won't allow people to operate in their talents...who could possibly do it a lot better than me.
@cblackink (969)
• United States
6 Jan 07
I suppose it's a fear thing. I'm not an over-analyzer (I should probably analyze more)but I don't think I have a terrible fear of getting hurt. I think that in many instances you're first reaction (your gut reaction) is correct. I'm a female, so I don't think it's just a female thing. I've known men who were that way too. My advice, for what it's worth, is to practice letting yourself go with the first reaction you have in situations. It may be scary and you may get hurt, but then, something wonderful might happen too. No risk, no gain.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
I'm a pretty quick thinker and my first reaction IS usually correct...but this is after things have happened, or email situations. I'm an openly emotional person, more so than most, and sometimes when I'm in the middle of an argument with someone, for example over email, I have this knot in my stomach and until I get a reply, I think about all the ways I would respond with a certain reply comes back.
• India
6 Jan 07
The will to succede leads to over analysis of a situation. The fear of failure may also be the reason for overanalysis. Over analysis can be an advantage by ensuring success but suck up loat of energy. Thus we have to analyse a situation not over analyse.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
I think this is where the majority of my problem lies - certain situations, I believe this is a necessary ability - but my problem is that I let little things bother me - I guess I'm still a people pleaser at heart in some ways - but only certain people...it's not everyone...usually those who are closest to me or their opinion means something to me.
• United States
6 Jan 07
I am an over analyzer. For this reason, nobody likes to watch tv or movies with me, because I am always like..."whatever, there is no way that can happen..." and such....lol........so I understand what your saying.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
OOoooooh, I do this, too!!! I'm always guessing the endings of the movies before we're anywhere near it. Or I begin to ask questions out loud like, "Why is he doing that?" I've learned to be a little less vocal during movies - never do this in the theater, btw, but I do tend to do it at home, infuriating everyone around me usually *grin*.
@pr4pyaar (308)
• India
29 Jan 07
wow i do this all the time... i do it more often especially if i want to tell something to anybody, or i want to discuss over something with someone... i would have thought of thousands of questions and thousands of answers possible, the best part is that the discussion might get over just right through, or even better the situations change and i would not have to tell them anything more :D
1 person likes this
@carolynpb (647)
• United States
8 Jan 07
Hey, I get exactly where you are coming from. It must be a female thing. lol I do the same thing. Sometimes I think, that I think to much! A psychiatrist? For what for you to tell them this and ask "what's wrong with me"? and for them to ask "what do you think is wrong with you"? lol No, I think you are normal!
1 person likes this
@baysmummy (1639)
• Australia
6 Jan 07
I do the same thing all the time. And no, No way do I think that you need a psychiatrist. Not at all, But I do think that it is more of a female thing to think and feel and behave this way, i have never heard of any males that do this.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
6 Jan 07
I guess you shouldn't do that...ofcourse sometimes preparation in what you want to say is ok but thinkin much about it is not...Let it flow to your system and dont think much...
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 07
They want to take their minds off their own shortcomings. It makes them feel superior.
• United States
6 Jan 07
??? I'm not sure I understand this - I'm certainly not afraid to admit to my shortcomings - as a matter of fact, I find it more comforting to be open about it so that people will understand what my weaknesses are and hopefully have strengths in the areas I do not and vice versa.
• United States
6 Jan 07
no i dont think its just a female thing cos even i do it. what i perceive is that we want to prepare ourselves for all kinds of situations as we simulate such situations in our mind and there is nothing wrong or mad about it.
• United States
6 Jan 07
I think preparation would be a good word for it - to prepare for any possible outcomes means a quick response and a quicker resolution. Maybe that's part of my impatience...because I can be an impatient person *grin*.
• India
6 Jan 07
naah its not a just a female thing. my boyfriend does it all the time
• United States
6 Jan 07
That's interesting - the reason I mentioned it being a female thing was because most of the men I have known don't do it...well, I take that back...a friend of mine in college, who is actually quite like me, does it quite often. I didn't think about that!
@laydee (12820)
• Philippines
11 Jun 08
I think everyone does this. It's common to think about what could happen, unless you're really someone who is so carefree that you wouldn't care what happens with your actions. As you know, in every action there is an equal amount of reaction, so I think it's pretty mature for a person to analyze first before doing something. But over analyzing is another thing. I think it's an insecurity or having a few of something dreadful. It's more of being overly assumptive to the point of blocking yourself from experiencing life. I am usually this type of person too. Until I met my partner. I tend to overly think to the point of spending my whole day thinking instead of just living my life. You should try that too. You should give yourself a break for a few days in a month to just be 'yourself' and stop thinking of the outcomes. Of course, there are decisions that need thorough thinking but there are simple decisions of day-to-day that doesn't require thorough thinking. As nike would say.. JUST DO IT!