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  • Writer's pictureDr Kalanit Ben-Ari

Deep Thinking vs Overthinking: Understanding the Difference and finding a Healthy Balance

Have you ever found yourself lost in thought, pondering the complexities of life?

It's great to take time to reflect and deeply think about our experiences and the world around us. However, it's important to differentiate between deep thinking and overthinking.

Deep Thinking vs Overthinking: What's the Difference?

Deep thinking involves taking the time to analyse and reflect on a topic, without becoming overwhelmed by it. It can lead to new insights, understanding, and growth. When we engage in deep thinking, we are able to focus on finding solutions to problems and making better decisions. This type of thinking takes time, but it is productive and helps in personal growth.

On the other hand, overthinking can be detrimental to our mental health, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Overthinking involves dwelling on a topic excessively and becoming stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts. This type of thinking can cause indecision and inaction, as we focus on finding problems rather than solutions. Overthinking can be draining and demotivating, hindering personal growth and causing confusion and doubt.

So, how can we differentiate between deep thinking and overthinking? The key is to pay attention to how we feel. When we engage in deep thinking, we feel energised and motivated. We are able to think clearly and find clarity and understanding. On the other hand, when we are overthinking, we feel drained and anxious. We are unable to think clearly and become stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts.

It's important to remember that deep thinking is a healthy mental exercise, while overthinking drains us mentally. If you find yourself unable to control your thoughts or feel overwhelmed by them, it may be helpful to seek professional help.

Here is a summery of the differences:

Deep Thinking


Involves thoughtful analysis and reflection on a topic

Involves dwelling on a topic excessively

Can lead to new insights, understanding, and growth

Can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety

Helps in making better decisions

Can cause indecision and inaction

Focused on finding solutions

Focused on finding problems

Takes time, but is productive

Takes time, but is unproductive

Helps in personal growth

Hinders personal growth

Can be energizing and motivating

Can be draining and demotivating

Provides clarity and understanding

Causes confusion and doubt

A healthy mental exercise

Draining our mental health

For me, I know that I am in a deep thinking state of mind when the reflection offers me a new insight, a new way of understanding or experiencing the situation. Something shifts internally and I can relate to the situation from my essence rather than from my reactivity.

When I catch myself in overthinking, I reflect on these questions to help me dive into a deep thinking:

- What lies underneath that feeling for me?

- What lies underneath my reaction?

- On what is it 'seated' in my history?

- What can I do to be heard and understood not from a reactive place?

- What do I need right now to be able to shift my way of understanding this?

Here are other tips for moving from overthinking to deep thinking and cultivating a more constructive mindset:

  1. Take a break: If you find yourself constantly overthinking a particular situation, it might be helpful to take a break from it. This could mean taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in a different activity that takes your mind off the situation.

  2. Focus on the present moment: Overthinking often involves worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. To move towards deep thinking, try to focus on the present moment. This could involve paying attention to your breath, your physical sensations, or the environment around you.

  3. Practice self-compassion: Overthinking can be a symptom of self-doubt or self-criticism. Practicing self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This can help you to let go of negative thoughts and move towards deeper, more constructive thinking.

  4. Write it down: Writing down your thoughts can be a helpful way to move from overthinking to deep thinking. By putting your thoughts on paper, you can clarify them and gain new insights that might not have been apparent before.

  5. Seek support: If overthinking is causing significant distress in your life, it might be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional. They can help you develop strategies for managing overthinking and moving towards deeper, more meaningful thinking.

In conclusion, it's okay to think deeply and contemplate the world around us, but let's not get lost in our own thoughts. Let's strive for a balance between reflection and action. By paying attention to how we feel, we can differentiate between deep thinking and overthinking, and focus on the type of thinking that leads to growth and personal development.


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