It starts off innocently enough. You’re thinking carefully when making decisions and working on projects, or maybe you’re putting in extra time at your job because you’re new and you want to make a good impression, or you’re running your own business and you’re super-passionate about your vision. Or maybe you give so much energy to patients or clients because you want so badly for them to feel cared for, or you want your colleagues to like you, so you say “yes” to all requests and invitations.
Before you know it, you’re feeling drained, resentful, and overloaded—and you’re not sure how to stop the pattern.
Neuropsychologist and Energy Rising author Julia DiGangi refers to these behaviors as “the Overs.” According to Dr. DiGangi, it all comes back to our emotions and emotional energy. “The brain is quite literally a machine that runs on the energy of your emotions. And emotions are the native language of every single human being on the planet. A lot of times we get a lot of messages both direct and indirect that we can’t express our emotions, and then what happens is suppression. Instead of just experiencing our emotions and letting them kind of dissipate, a lot of times we’re so afraid of feeling our feelings that we clench down around these feelings, and then that creates all this stuckness, which leads to dysfunction.”
Why we overthink, overwork and overgive
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S, a therapist at LifeStance Health, has seen this a lot in her work. “Some of the reasons that I find when people do this is if they tend to be pretty anxious coupled with being a people pleaser. I’ve come to understand as a therapist not to underestimate the pervasiveness of anxiety and how it can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life which would include work. Overthinking is a direct result of anxiety (with a dash of insecurity), and overgiving is a result of the tendency to ‘people please.’ When you combine the two together, you are looking at a person who will tend to be an ‘overworker”’ at their job.”