The Reason Introverts Might ‘Think Too Much’ introverts over-thinking

I’m planning a trip to Spain. I’ve been wanting to go for years and years. But I don’t just buy a ticket and go. I start thinking. That’s when the research starts. And the endless things to consider.

When would be the best time to go?

What will the weather be like in each region I plan to visit?

What will I wear?

What do people in Spain wear?

Will my shoes be comfortable enough for lots of walking?

How will I deal with an overnight flight and jet lag?

And on, and on, and on.

My overthinking isn’t limited to planning trips. A few years ago, when I was dating, I remember talking to an extroverted friend about a guy I had gone on a few dates with. I had so many concerns. I analyzed every little thing he did. Looked for hidden clues in his words like a detective. Imagined what our life together would be like in 20 years. What our children would be like. Our home. My happiness. Would I have any regrets?

My extroverted friend just laughed. “You don’t have to figure everything out right now!” she said. If I was having fun, I should keep seeing him and not think too much about it, she advised.

But my introverted mind doesn’t work like that. Like a massive connect the dots puzzle, my brain links everything to everything else. I want to make sure that I’m not missing any facts. That I’ve considered all the possibilities. That I’m making the absolute best decision possible with the information I have. And I can always find more information — another data point to consider, another article to read, another personal reaction to analyze.

Because of reactions like the one from my extroverted friend, I often don’t let on just how much I’m overthinking things. People don’t want to know. They run out of patience listening to your concerns, and they make you feel like a weirdo for caring so much. It’s not cool to overthink; you’re supposed to live for the moment and just do. So in the end, I usually just shut up.

Oh, how I’ve wanted to be that person who just throws things in a suitcase and goes.

Why Introverts Might Overthink Things

The reason we introverts “overthink” may come down to the level of activity in our brains. According to Dr. Laurie Helgoe, researchers mapped electrical activity in the brains of both introverts and extroverts. The introverts had higher levels of electrical activity than the extroverts, indicating that the introverts had greater cortical arousal. “Cortical” refers to the outer layer of the cerebrum, which is the part of the brain that integrates complex sensory and neural functions, as well as coordinates voluntary activity in the body.

According to the research, it didn’t matter whether the introverts were in a resting state or engaged in a task — they all showed more brain activity than the extroverts. This means introverts may process more information than extroverts per second, which helps explain why introverts may be prone to overthinking.

Similarly, explains Helgoe, neuroimaging studies found that in introverts’ brains, activation is centered in the frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for remembering, planning, decision making, and problem solving. These are, of course, activities that require turning one’s focus and attention inward, as introverts are known to do — and they are activities related to overthinking. Introverts’ brains also showed increased blood flow in Broca’s area. This region of the brain is associated with speech production, which is likely responsible for self-talk — again, something that happens during overthinking.

Is Overthinking Always Bad?

We always talk about overthinking like it’s a bad thing. And in many cases, it is. Overthinking can lead to worry and anxiety. It can keep us rooted in fear, indecision, and doubt. It may even prevent us from moving forward with our lives. Imagine if I refused to buy a ticket to Spain until I waited for the absolute perfect moment to take time off work. I would probably still be waiting, never finding a time that is “perfect” enough.

But I also believe that overthinking can be an introvert’s super power. If I didn’t “overthink” things — like my writing, for example — I would throw anything on the page, without taking the time to research, edit, and proofread. A lack of overthinking probably wouldn’t have resulted in the creation of this website, or have led to my first book.

If I didn’t “overthink” things, I may have ended up in a romantic relationship with someone who wasn’t right for me. Overthinking also usually makes me become an expert on the topic I’m overthinking about (because I do so much research on it), whether it’s introversion, jet lag, or women’s comfort shoe brands.

I believe it’s all about balance — about knowing when to lean into your introverted overthinking tendencies and when to pull back. If overthinking is causing you fear, anxiety, sadness, or stagnation, it’s time to pull back.

When I find myself battling unproductive overthinking, I do something that will “change the channel” in my mind, like going for a walk, listening to music, talking to someone, or just forcing myself to do any different activity than the one I’m currently doing. When you’re obsessing, it’s all about getting the powerful engine of your mind to start chugging down a different track.

Introverts, you have powerful minds. “Overthinking,” when used the right way, can be one of your greatest assets.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.

Read this: 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need to Be Happy

Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman 

This article may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.


  • Emily Smith says:

    Lovely article! I agree, my overthinking can annoy me at times, but I’m still grateful for it, and I’m pretty sure it’s helped me avoid bad situations and take advantage of good ones many times.

  • Rodney Severin says:

    Given our reputation for seeking perfection, I’m impressed you were able to finish the book in the first place. That must have been a enormously satisfying yet also terrifying moment. Kudos!

  • M. says:

    You are so right about overthinking usual being seen as bad. I never even considered it to actually also be a good thing, but as everything else it has two sides. Overthinking can indeed help you be prepared. Wondering if it’s going to rain all the holiday – well let’s make sure there are clothes in the suitcase for that. Thanks for reminding me that everything has two sides. 🙂

  • BK Jackson says:

    I also agree that overthinking can be a good thing. But I do know that overthinking (tied to perfectionism) is one of the biggest disasters for creativity. I will sit on a book for YEARS–I will research another book for years. And the danger of not letting go, not being able to put a check mark in the “Done” column can be very debilitating.

  • Angela Henderson says:

    Overthinking is bad, by definition, because it has the word “over” in it, which actually means “too much.” But if the point is that thinking “a lot” or having deep analysis is good, I’d agree with that.

  • Angela Henderson says:

    This is so true – I never write the books I want, because I can’t think of reasons why characters would really do things I need them to do, or can’t think of a plot that is both interesting enough while not being too unrealistic. But if I think of almost any book I have ever enjoyed, I would have said those same things if that book was my idea: “That’s dumb, no one would really do that,” or “Who would be interested in that, it is not exciting enough.” Typical overthinking getting in the way of doing good things. This is food for thought… ugh, lol.. I mean, I’m going to go ahead and write that book 🙂

  • telac says:

    usually after a conversation or an action that i have done i overthink about did i do it right? did i do something wrong? what are they thinkin about me? are they talking behind me? are they disappointed? i usually think those for about a week and it keeps popping in my mind.

  • Shannon Hart says:

    Thanks so much for this, Jenn! As an introvert and HSP, this resonated so much with me.
    Thank you for the distraction suggestions when obsessing over details, I hope to use these techniques!
    As an experienced solo traveler, the best advice I can give is to research as much as you can before you go, and once you get there, turn the brain off!
    My first solo trip to Europe, I researched the areas I would be in and booked my return flight and the first couple days hotel – that’s it. It was so incredibly freeing (albeit scary) to not have a plan – the first time in my life. And you know what? It worked out beautifully. I hope you have an amazing time in Spain. As the cover of my journal states, “Sometimes plan, but sometimes wing it”. ❤️

  • Peep_Jerky says:

    ‘It’s not cool to overthink.’

    That’s how I feel when people tell me I’m overthinking about someone I like, or interactions in general. I get bitter and think “I forgot, it’s not cool to care about people.”