Overthinkers Anonymous

Hi, I’m Yves and I practice conversations with people.

This cartoon reminds me of what can be one of the main obstacles to actually having that challenging conversation.

Thinking about what the other person might say.

It seems to be one of the favourite past-times in our culture.

When it’s time for bed, millions of people around the world, renew their membership of…

The Overthinkers Anonymous.

If they knew how many people are doing the same thing, they would probably feel less lonely.

Laying there in bed, ruminating, posing questions, over and over again, overthinking conversations:

“What if I say it like this, what would he say?”

“No, then he would say this and no…that doesn’t work. Maybe if I say it like this…then he  would say this and I can say this and then….”

The Overthinker Anonymous falls asleep with an exhausted brain…only to wake up and being haunted by the same fear of what the person might say in moments of quiet.


What I’ve learned from the conversations that I’ve practiced with students over the past couple of years, is that I don’t know how the other person is going to respond.

And it’s not just that I don’t know

It’s that I want to come from a place of not knowing

…of not knowing what they’re going to say.

Because if I come from a place where I’m anticipating their words, I’m usually up in my head and out of the moment.

I might be looking out, in fear, thinking:

“Please, please, for once, give me that magic line, that openness, that love, that presence that I’m craving.”

And you know what?

I believe the other person recognizes this look in my eyes.

And they might not be feeling all that comfortable because they are wanting some choice

…and also acceptance: that whatever they say, will be heard and accepted and not be criticized .

So the odds are they’re not going to give me what I want.

Because what I want, is exactly what I am not offering myself.

The antidote?

For me, step one is discovering what it is that I want and need in the relationship.

When I know what it is that I want or need, I usually feel way more relaxed than when I’m thinking of what the other person might say as a reply.

So maybe I want some openness in my relationship with my mom and say: “Mom, I really would like it if you could ask me how I’m really doing, so I can open up more easily.”

Or maybe I want some more balance in my romantic relationship and I can say: “I’m a bit scared to say this, but I would like a bit more balance when it comes to organizing things in the weekend.”

When making these requests I would like to hold an intention like this one:

Whatever the reply is, I want the other person only to help me satisfy my needs if it brings joy to their life.

And what really works for me, to hold my intention close, is to take the third step: Checking in with them.

“Hey, I’m just wondering…how does my request come across?”

I love this question because it can bring the end to my overthinking and the beginning of shared understanding.

Disclaimer: the people who teach it, usually need it the most.