The Overthinker’s Guide To Smoking Weed

Welcome to The Overthinker’s Guide — a weekly column that aims to advise overthinkers on the difficult situations that seem to characterize the lives of those who too often succumb to analysis paralysis. This week, I’ll cover smoking weed, an activity that can shift overthinkers into psychological overdrive, taking them down the highway of excessive self-shaming, self-loathing, and mental breakdown.

So: As an overthinker, you loathe to smoke weed — especially with people — for the following reasons:

1. When you smoke weed, you uncontrollably reexamine your identity and life choices. For overthinkers, smoking pot can result in unwelcome self-accusation and negatively-slanted analysis of one’s major life decisions.

There are two areas overthinkers will focus their self-loathing–

  1. Identity. The way you fake people into liking you, the tricks you play to get what you want. You’re a fraud, oh, you’re a big fat fraud! You think you’re ACTUALLY talented? Ha ha! You’ve just managed to TRICK everyone into thinking you’re NOT a piece of shit! Good job, piece of shit! Remember that party last night? You weren’t having conversation — you were manipulating people into asking you questions that would warrant responses that contained information that made you look good! Remember that great story you wrote last weekend? You didn’t realize it then, but you actually just copied something you had read three weeks previous by someone far, far more talented than you! You phony! You’re nothing. You’re NO ONE! HA HA HA HA HA. DIE IN A FIRE, ASSHOLE!
  2. Life decisions. Keep avoiding your parents’ phone calls? Won’t let X back into your life when s/he really does deserve a second chance? Have seven voicemails that have been left unanswered for over a month? Break up with the girl who was perfect for you? Major in French Literature? Spent $120 yesterday and can’t remember what on? You have subscriptions to the New York Times, The New Yorker, and New York Magazine. WHY? You are wasting your money and are going down a path of irredeemable despair that will end with a bar of soap on the floor of a prison shower. Death. Suffering. Loss. Oh god, the people in Africa. You’re parents — they’re going to die. You’re going to die. And then what? And then what?

It is clear that smoking weed often causes overthinkers to uncontrollably reexamine their livelihoods, identities, and major life decisions. High overthinkers’ self-destructive shame spirals go into berserk mode, obliterating all semblance of comforting self-delusion. It is thought that smoking pot places one in a different mental context, causing the overthinker to in a sense move outside of himself. It enables him to observe behaviors that from his previous vantage point were impossible to detect.

Perspectives outside of one’s normal boundaries are important for personal growth. The problem with using weed to gain perspective is that while an inexperienced overthinker is likely to temporarily move past the boundaries of her ego — establishing distance between her stoned self and her everyday self — the detachment is often accompanied by intense self-shaming and berating. So the state of being high basically turns into a cyclical exercise of pointing out all your flaws, hating yourself for them, shaming yourself, and uncontrollably searching for more flaws.

2. You become cripplingly self- and socially-aware. For overthinkers, smoking pot can cause extreme situational awareness. Example: I’m saying “like” too much, I never realized it until now but I say “like” in like every single sentence. Jesus I just did it in my internal monologue. The guy talking to me has dry mouth. I can fucking hear his dry mouth… I hear the saliva in his mouth. This is gross, I’m getting grossed out. Am I sitting the right way? Am I positioned awkwardly? The position I’m sitting in feels insane. No, you’re normal. You’re sitting in a normal position. I just scratched my head and moved my hand to my mouth. Why did I do that? I have this tendency to cover my mouth when I’m uncomfortable talking to someone. Can he tell I’m uncomfortable? How is he still talking? I have no idea what he’s talking about. He seems insane, to be talking so much and not detect that I have no idea what he’s saying. What is he saying? I can’t focus on anything other than the fact that he has dry mouth. Jesus, get a fucking drink of water idiot. I just scratched my head again. Am I doing that too much? I’m thirsty. I’m afraid to talk because he’ll hear I have dry mouth. This sucks. I want to go home.

Things overthinkers say when being peer pressured to smoke weed

  • “I can’t be around people when I smoke weed. Believe me, you don’t want to smoke weed with me. I’ll just feel alienated and leave immediately.”
  • “I get super paranoid when I smoke weed. Not paranoid of the cops. But paranoid about my life. I start freaking out about my life when I smoke weed.”
  • “I can’t talk to people when I smoke weed. I feel really stupid.”
  • “When I smoke weed I get so self-aware. I can’t stop thinking about what I’m doing. I become so focused on if I’m acting normal that I can’t engage with anyone.”

The best ways to get out of smoking weed while being peer pressured

  • Say: “You don’t want to smoke weed with me. I’ll just leave. You really don’t want to know me when I’m high, I turn into an asshole.”
  • Say you’re in a 12-step program.

Life tips to keep in mind when you are high

  • The idea that success is a constant upward trajectory is a false premise.
  • Think of the things you shame yourself for as ‘problems’ that need ‘fixing.’ Remove the shame element — it’s totally unnecessary. Accept the fact that the problems exist, and accept the fact that you need to fix them. Do not accept the shame anymore.
  • People are not thinking about you as much as you think they are thinking about you.
  • Your problems are human. Your problems are not unique. People can relate to your problems.
  • Try putting headphones on.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to bail.
  • Fresh air might make you feel better.
  • It’s okay. TC mark
image – Shutterstock


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  • Kevin

    Can we stop pretending that all weed has one set of ways it affects all people? It has incredible medical uses for people with anxiety disorders and finding the right strain is essential. I know this is humor but it’s the wrong stereotype to be pushing.

    • Hannah Faith

      I don’t think they’re pushing a stereotype. This is my exact experience when I smoke weed 9 times out of 10. It’s just another side of the coin.

      • Jesse

        This isn’t humor. This is how weed affects me as well. I just wish I knew what to do instead, because it’s nice to realize I’m being a shitty person in my life and be able to self-progress.

      • Kevin

        I guess my comments was a little too negative. I’d really just encourage people to try out different strains. If you find yourself with lots of paranoia and anxiety, a hybrid strain with some indica in it or even a pure indica will not create those side effects.

      • Tanya Nascimento

        what she said

    • Matt

      Kevin………Come on.

    • xyz

      uh…yeah I have never had a good experience with weed. I have a congenital heart problem that gives me anxiety/depression, and every time I’ve smoked weed (a lot of times) I literally try to tear my skin off and scream and cry and have unwanted thoughts for hours and hours. it turns me into someone else.
      maybe weed is great for you, but not for everyone.

      • Kevin

        That was the point I was trying to make as well as to educate people that effects can vary widely between strains. If you don’t live in a medical state, it can be almost impossible to get exactly what you want, though.

    • Amy

      I agree with Kevin. I’ve always considered myself a classic over thinker with a lot of general anxiety, but weed relieves most of that for me and I’m sure it does for a lot of other over thinkers too. I do occasionally get that kind of distant observer/out of body anxiety from some types of weed but honestly, all I’ve ever had to do was find someone else who was also high and just talk to them without holding back (aka not allowing that internal monologue to form). As soon as you realize it’s totally okay to feel that way, you can actually appreciate it and enjoy thinking about things more thoroughly than most people do. Not to mention, it’s okay to not want to hang out with a bunch of people when you’re high. Who says weed is something you’re only supposed to enjoy around other people? Some of my most enjoyable moments high were hanging out alone in my room relaxing and learning to over think in a positive way rather than associating it with negativity and anxiety.

    • LP

      That’s why it’s called the “Overthinker’s Guide to Smoking Weed”, not the “This is How Weed Effects Everyone… er… Guide to Smoking Weed”

  • SneakyPizza

    Well now I’m just going to worry that Brandon Scott Gorrell is reading my thoughts.

  • Anthony Chavez

    I feel like this was written specifically with me in mind. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    • quantumtheory

      you aren’t the only one bro

  • Megan

    Haha I love smoking weed by myself but this is exactly what happens when I smoke with other people! I’m convinced that everything coming out of my mouth is idiotic and everyone is thinking “what a stupid high fuck” the entire time

  • Kablam

    Thank you for writing this! I used to smoke with my ex-boyfriend and his friends and almost every time I would feel this way. It probably didn’t help that I didn’t know his friends well, so I usually sat and just kind I observed them all being so comfortable with each other and laughing and having the best time while I grew more and more aware of my own lack of contribution to the conversation. This usually made me more paranoid and critical of myself, it sucked. That or I would go into my own head and have a fascinating revelation about the insanity of society, religion, or both, but be too afraid to share because they’re all happily discussing music or restaurants. Yay for over thinking and smoking only with friends who get you & love you anyway!

  • brian time

    This may sound weird, but I even love the paranoid side effects of weed like this. Once I realize what’s happening, I just laugh at myself. Does that make sense? Can’t wait to rip my vap later!

  • minicardi

    this is exactly why i don’t smoke weed any more!!

  • Pxlpore

    This use to be me, but smoking weed actually helped me overcome my anxiety. The more you get high in social situations the more use to them you get until you just stop caring what people think.( Also totally agree with Kevin on the Indica statement.)

  • makeupandmirtazapine

    It find it’s the only thing that helps with an old back injury, but I have the complete opposite problem with it. It turns me into an idiot who thinks the whole of life is hilarious and that she’s invincible. Fun for me, less so everyone else.

  • Deeemag

    This is so perfect. This is exactly how I feel when I smoke now. I used to be a huge “pot head” but around my sophomore year of college weed started having these exact, and i mean exact effects on me. I wish I could still smoke and feel normal since it seems like the only social thing on weeknights for college students to do besides drink.

  • Nichole J. (@EarthToNichole)

    Weed is the WORST. Yet somehow I found myself eating a special candy WITH the guy I have a crush on in a foreign city. Cue crippling anxiety/regret.

  • Alison (@entropica)

    Sent a link of this to my friend. He replied that he now finally ‘gets’ what is going on when I get ‘stuck in my own head’. Oh yeah. Also why I don’t smoke pot.

  • daniel

    wow it’s nice to see my feelings expressed so precisely by other people.

    i wonder if we already have these thoughts when we’re sober, but are able to set them aside enough to avoid being totally immobilized by them. viewing thoughts with some objectivity vs. getting high and feeling compelled to completely believe/follow every single one of them

  • Stacie

    This is exactly what I stopped smoking weed. I didn’t used to be like this, but as I got older and I guess took on more responsibilities, I couldn’t just be stupid and stoned without being really paranoid and self-aware.

  • Brian

    Fantastic insight! Like everyone else has said, this is exactly what happens to me when I smoke. Yay for overthinkers!

  • jimbo

    Very true for me, so I pretty much just stopped smoking completely!

  • Sarah

    Exactly what happens to me! Which is why I prefer being alone when high and listening to music. I thought I was the only one.

  • A.N. Esthète (@anesthete)

    Funnily enough I find the complete opposite. Hm.

  • Scottie

    describes me 100%, all these comments are blowin my mind

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    I am an over thinker and when I smoke weed I feel more relaxed and calm. weird…

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