The Dangers of Over-thinking
The mind is like a monkey, as mind-genius Alan Watts said. It’s darting from the present to the future, and constantly dipping into the past, and this running around requires our thoughts. Thoughts are how we interact with our aspirations, fantasies, and memories, and can be wonderful bridges into all-consuming feelings of joy or sadness. Thoughts can also be the building blocks to complex stories and designs, but no matter where they lead, it’s important to remember that one is still their author.
The pace of 21st century living often grabs one’s attention and takes it away from the origins of one’s thoughts. When one is carrying five bags of shopping that threaten to split by the time one finds one’s car keys, it’s difficult to pause and grasp where one’s mind is leading one’s emotions, and one could get angry. Why does this always happen to me? I should have done this differently.
The world is so annoying. This is an unconscious over-thinking, which is difficult to be fully aware of.
How can one recognise, reflect on, and eventually regulate what feels like bubbles of words that flow by as if from an unreachable tap. Eventually they form an ocean that threatens to slosh around and churn up repetitive thoughts.
Our minds are intelligent machines, so why would they flood our thoughts with negativity? Our brains are wired for self-preservation, and will inject our thoughts with worries and concerns to help us realise and overcome danger. The problem is, minds aren’t geared towards modern problems. They’re more built for screaming at harmful situations and telling one to run from the dark. They get stuck on the complexities of a relationship or the bumps of modern day living. In the dark our minds tint our thoughts with added dangers, a throwback to when we had to be cautious about predators. But nobody is hunting us now. It’s just that nobody can tell our minds. Or can we?
The answer is also the problem. The key way our minds protect us is to teach us how to think. They can’t actively put caution in every new-born thought, so it trains us to do it for them. By repeatedly following the same patterns of thought, these patterns become deep rooted grooves that channel our thoughts in a cautious, sometimes pessimistic, direction. So the way out of these grooves is to recognise and examine their effects. Some people consider themselves naturally unlucky, and joke that things will probably go bad no matter the circumstances. It’s more a case of their minds telling them to mentally prepare for the worst, just in case. Unchecked, these thoughts can directly lead to depression and anxiety.
Once you’re aware of them it’s more possible to dig the grooves in a more positive direction. So, Why does this always happen to me? because well, this is annoying, but understandable. The plastic bags are thin and not designed for heavy weight, and this happens to a lot of people. It changes from a generalised accusation, to a more balanced statement.
Be kind on your mind, it’s only trying to protect you. Critical thoughts are essential in life, it’s just the quantity and power of them that needs to be watched. The most important thing to remember is that negative thoughts tend to flood, whereas positive, beneficial ones tend to feel at the front of one’s mind. Here’s the danger of conscious over-thinking— it feeds the over-cautious tendency of thoughts, and when you’re putting energy into thinking over a certain issue, it allows them to multiply.
Listen to those easily-overshadowed thoughts that aren’t touched by over-thinking. There’s a reason why people often return to their gut feeling when trying to decide a big issue.