Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

This Is Great News for Worrywarts Who Overthink Every Little Thing

man worrying

I come from a long line of worrywarts. My maternal grandmother wears the crown, and truthfully, sometimes her anxiety is unnerving and it makes me worried (ha, there you go) that I’m becoming too anxious.

While I don’t worry about whether or not I locked the door or turned the oven off, I am accustomed to waking up in the middle of the night fraught with panic over something I said or did—and how I said or did it. A few weeks ago it was the fact that I’d incorrectly addressed one of my wedding invitations. More recently it was about the email I’d sent to my friend; did she not get my tone? Did I say something rude or obnoxious without meaning to? I don’t fall asleep when my head hits the pillow because I’m often thinking about an exchange I had with the CEO or one of my colleagues. And then, when all that’s going on, a whole new door of concerns opens, and I fret about not falling asleep, not getting enough sleep, being a zombie the next day at work and how that uncomfortable state will impact my interactions with others.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you believe you have this feeling of foreboding built into your DNA? Get ready to get excited: It turns out that worrisome people are pretty smart. That’s right. Anxiety and intelligence are linked. PureWow’s recap of a study done by researchers at Lakehead University in Ontario should have you embracing this tendency. The study’s abstract states that “verbal intelligence was a unique positive predictor of worry and rumination severity,” which frankly is an awesome discovery for all of us who overthink every professional interaction under the sun.

If a source of your anxiety results from going over (and over) past conversations or text message exchanges (and this is a common scenario that lots of us worrywarts can relate to), you may be training your brain to respond better the next time around. You know how hours after you speak with someone you think of the perfect, witty thing to say? Well, you’re probably not going to initiate the same discussion the following morning just so you can insert your utterly charming comment, but the next time you’re up, perhaps your response will be as clever as you know you can be. See, we’re not paranoid, we’re just into challenging ourselves—not satisfied until we find the right words that properly represent our smarts. You are probably almost always overthinking it, but if it speaks to your intelligence, what’s to complain about?