It is not possible to overthink something. Overthinking is an erroneous concept possibly created by people who in fact do not think enough to realise it is wrong.
What people think “overthinking” is, is when there is a simple concept, such as a choice you have to make, or something you have to learn, and instead of taking it as it is, you think “too much” about it. This lead to overcomplication, which as opposed to overthinking, is a valid concept.
The difference between these two terms is best shown by explaining why overthinking isn’t real. It is impossible to think too much about something. The issue that actually arises is that a person will consider things that most people wouldn’t. When planning a trip they will find a flight, but will not book it because they think that they might be able to find a better deal, and instead spend more time looking for other deals. They might check the company offering the flight to make sure it is not a scam. They might not want to use their credit card because they think it might get stolen. They will repeatedly check to make sure everyone has their passports, and take extra precautions, and worry that they plane might not be safe. The “overthinking” person will worry about prices, safety, and anything else they can think of that might go wrong.
In response, the average person will tell them not to worry, and that they are thinking too much about it. Instead, they might suggest to not ask so many questions, and instead to trust it, or trust their intuitions. They would be wrong.
There are at least two reasons why someone would suggest to think less:
- They don’t think these precautions are needed, because
- The things the person is concerned about will never happen, or
- The things the person is concerned about are so unlikely that they are not worth considering
- They have seen people worry about such things, and see them overwhelmed by doubt and indecision. They think that nothing good comes of thinking.
These are all flawed arguments because:
- When you don’t think about what problems might happen, you won’t be prepared for them. You cannot expect to avoid or be able to fix a problem if you do not even know it exists. Many problems require planning to deal with properly, and if you do not, you might not be able to solve them at all.
- Problems do happen. They’re more likely to happen if you do not avoid them.
- If something has a low chance to happen, that does not at all mean that it will not happen. People are surprised when, something that is improbable happens to them, because they do not understand how probability works.
- Perhaps the most prominent issue people see with thinking is that they think it leads to doubt and indecision, both of which they think are bad things.
- Doubt is not a bad thing, it is the fundamental principle behind science. Doubt is what lets engineers figure out how a plane can fail, no matter how improbable, and develop ways to avoid or fix it. That is why planes are so much safer than cars and road traffic. If engineers did not “overthink” aircraft, we would have a lot more aircraft accidents, as happened when air travel was newer and the discipline was not as developed. Confidence (as opposed to doubt) is how you get scammed. It is how a professional looking website will take your credit card information, or make you sign a contract that can create life ruining legal trouble. It is how politicians make you think they’re obviously the best candidate, and then abuse their power to make life better for the elite at the expense of everyone else.
- Indecision is the result of thinking “wrong”, not thinking too much.
- If you are having trouble making a decision it could be because you don’t have enough information to choose, or it could be because it is too difficult to compare the benefits and drawbacks of the choices. If it is a hard decision, then you need to think more about it until you figure out what choice is correct. Thinking about it less will just mean you’ll be making a choice without sufficient information, which amounts to arbitrarily or randomly deciding. This is leaving it to fate, so if it goes wrong, it will be your own fault for picking randomly.
- If you repeatedly worry about the same thing, or worry about things that are easily resolved, then you are not using reason correctly. Whether you have enough information to eliminate a doubt but still are doubtful, or you lack enough information, there is a point in your thinking when you have covered every possibility. Some problems cannot be solved with what you have and it is not feasible to get more. Some problems can only be solved partially. Some plans are not perfect, but there are no improvements that can be feasibly made.
Decisions are best made by getting as much information as you can, verifying it as much as possible, and using reason to determine what choices are available and which is the best. Decisions are made harder by a lack of information, faulty information, errors in reasoning and judgment, and limitations of time. You cannot overthink a problem because there is only so much to think about. Once you have thought about everything, it is not possible to think any more about it reasonably. If you attempt to, you would just be re-thinking things you already solved before. Thinking less about it is easier, but not better. It promotes blind and rash action over caution and reason, and is the cause of many problems that people never realise, because they don’t think.
It is not possible to overthink something. It’s just what people who don’t think see when someone does not rush to judgment.