Our cognitive function i.e. our ability to think is a great feature of the human mind.
We can process information, we can make decisions, we can generate beliefs/opinions…
Thinking conjures up our emotions
We all have different amounts of head-space which enable us to think. It is likely to be divided into your different life areas, for example:
Some areas of your life will run smoothly, and require minimal thought. Other areas may need more attention. So for the areas that need attention, how much thinking is enough?
How do you know when you are thinking too much?
It can be helpful to understand what you are trying to achieve from thinking about your chosen topic. Are you trying to process something? Do you want to make a decision?
If you notice that your thinking is not helping you toward your goal, your thinking might be stuck. The more your thinking loops, the more likely negative emotions are to get triggered. Sometimes we need to come outside our own mind to obtain new information that does not exist in our archives, to help us make a decision or understand something.
Sometimes we come to conclusions, yet we continue to think about them. What if it is the wrong conclusion? What if there is some information I have missed? We venture into worry territory, where anxiety lives. Sometimes we have to accept the information we have, and the decisions/conclusions we have made – purely for own peace of mind.
We all live on a spectrum of thinking.
Occasionally, we feel so laid-back we are practically horizontal; happy to let others think or decide for us…
Friend: What drink would you like?
Laid-back you: Surprise me!
Other times, we can be demons on a mission to make a decision…
Boss: What are our options?
Mission you: Well, we have several options. They all have pros + cons. Let’s review…
Often, for example, we can be a busy thinkers…
Busy me: There is lots going on at the moment, there is this and this and this. I’m not sure what to focus on.
Boyfriend: One thing at a time
Focused: I will choose this as a blog topic today
Overthinking mind chatter can look like this…
Over-thinker: I have a really good idea. But it probably won’t work. But it might do. But other people might not like it. And I probably won’t have time. But it could be really good. So maybe I should try it. I could make time for it. But then I would be neglecting something else. I would feel really bad then. But it could work so well. Maybe I should see what my friends think. They might judge me though, if they think it is a stupid idea. I can’t risk that. But if it’s really good then I will feel great. And I’ll have loads of support. But what if I have to do it on my own? It would take a lot of effort, and I have a lot going on. I’ll just leave it and think about it more later.
Depending how important the life area is that we are focusing on, it can feel like the more effort we put into thinking about it, the better the outcome will be. But when we reach the stage of being frazzled or anxious or stressed to high heaven we have definitely been thinking too much!
We are all unique, with different thresholds. Some of us can juggle different topics, issues, problems, wonderings, and continue as normal. Some of us can do that on some days, but not on others. Some of us are not good jugglers, and work best focusing on one thing at a time. Notice your patterns, and see what works for you. You might find it easier to make decisions in the morning, rather than the evening. You might be better at making important decisions when you are feeling relaxed, because you are in tune with yourself in those moments. You might like to talk topics over with people to gather new information.
Immerse yourself in the present moment
Use all of your senses to enjoy the unique moments happening in your life right now, where no thought is required.
- Smell the aroma from your cup of coffee
- Look around at the greenery of nature
- Listen to the lyrics in the songs you enjoy
- Taste the sweetness of the chocolate trifle
- Feel the softness of your fluffy slippers
It takes practice to engage in these types of moments. If you can tune into your present activity, you know for sure, your mind is less likely to start whirring away!
If you notice your mind wandering, you can gently bring it back
It’s better to engage in the present moment, rather than engage in an over-thinking loop.