Posts Tagged ‘overthinking’

The problem with being an overthinker is it’s a lot like being an overeater. You can only fast for so long. Thinking is necessary, overthinking is a disease. This gets tricky.

With two weeks sobriety under my belt, today I’m thinking a little, just to see what happens.

I’m wondering about knowing, and all the ways we know things, and how we value – or don’t value – the things we know. Thinking about what the body knows, what the heart knows, what the spirit knows, apart from what the left-brained overthinker thinks she knows.

I think as a culture we’re pretty mixed up about this. I know I am.

How do I know? Because I have a friend who remembers what I know, better than I do. She constantly reminds me of things she’s learned from me. Things I told her when I knew them, which was in the moment somehow, in response to a question or a topic that interested me. Just the other day she gently rebuked me for not remembering that I know things.

Come to think of it, I have 2 friends who remember what I know. The second one recently set me up with a colleague so I could tell the colleague what I knew. Of course I didn’t know that I knew what this colleague needed to know, but my friend did. She just brought me in, wound me up, and then waited for stuff to flow. Which it did, I guess. But who knew?

I’m feeling a little woozy from all this thinking. I think I need to lie down.

How do you know things? Let us count the ways…

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Overthinkers have a tough time with play. This is a symptom we have in common with overachievers. In fact, it’s possible to be an overthinker and an overachiever at the same time. If so, you’re doubly miserable.

Overthinkers might be persuaded to play, but overachievers can turn even play into something that feeds the addiction. I know. I live in Colorado, home of 10,000 cyclists. If God had wanted our butts to be that hard, he wouldn’t have invented cellulite. I’m just sayin’…

Play is difficult, I’ll admit. It’s easier to think about play than to actually do it. As a therapist I not only get to think about play, I get to push the benefits of play onto others, and get a certain smug satisfaction from doing it…while never actually playing myself.

You see the challenge?

As adults we struggle with play because of its childlike, unguarded nature. We don’t want to be thought silly, or vulnerable. Wouldn’t want to lose ourselves in something delightful and simple, lest we be found to be less than completely composed at all times.

Overthinking makes us appear cool.

So antidote #2 is play. Go out and play.

But be advised, there are many counterfeits, activities that feign play, but actually feed what ails you. As an overthinker, you must be constantly vigilant, on guard against the sinister seduction of your disease. Watch for these subtle traps:

– going for coffee with a friend, overthinking your life under the guise of social contact

– reading Anna Karenina (or similarly meaningful literature) for fun

– Majong on the computer. ditto facebook, free cell, etc. etc. It might be escape, but it ain’t play

– Over-consumption of food and alcohol

– watching sports on TV

– watching TV

Play must be simple and spontaneous, physical and sensory. LIke…

Like…um…let’s see…

I’ll get back to you with this. I need to think about it some more.

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Welcome to the first meeting of Overthinkers Anonymous. My name is Phyllis and I am an overthinker.

It’s great to see so many of you here. I hope our time together will be fruitful. Remember, just being here is your first step toward freedom.

The modern age has had its way with us. Science, psychology, culture, and capitalism have wound their way into our psyche. They’ve wired our brains, shaped our existence, and left their mark on civilization. We’ve shaped our lives around the wonders of the experts, the thinkers, the runners of numbers, the beautiful, the successful, the teachers of you can too. Heady stuff, chock full of promise.

It was a great party. We drank a lot, and danced, oh yes we danced – but morning has dawned and we’re hungover.

At least I am.

And what do I have to show for it? An advanced degree, a profession dedicated to healing – while simultaneously feeding – the addiction to overthinking. Not to mention a room full of books, a history of seminars, various therapists and teachers left by the side of the road, and an empty bank account. As a bonus, I have a psyche full of angst – the sour aftertaste of an adulthood spent overthinking.

But I’ve hit bottom. Admitted my powerlessness. Turned my brain over to a higher power, and I’m on the mend. My goal is to offer a few timely antidotes along the way, so stay tuned.

Antidote Number 1: Get Grounded

If you’re going to go cold turkey, really break the power of this monkey on your back, the first thing you must do is look down. That’s right. Down to the ground.

Groundedness is job 1. And what better way to get grounded than to focus on the ground. The earth, the road, the trail: the dirt, sidewalk, avenue where you live.

Take a walk.

Notice the ground. Listen to it, smell it, feel it under your feet, revel in the sheer unthinking solidness of it. Soak in everything about it for the entire length of the time you’re out. Notice how it rises and falls, supports or tricks you, how content it is to convey you to your goal. Describe, but do not judge, the ground. Notice its being. Yes, the ground.

Resist the temptation to judge the ground, analyze the ground, fantasize about grounds past and future, or worry that the ground is in danger. This is the slippery slope to overthinking. Instead employ your senses and declare your observations:

Here’s the crunchy sound of pebbles under my feet.

I see the dust kicking up in tiny clouds before my toes.

Little bunnies share the road with me.

Green comes in many shades. The road is decorated with many a weed.

I know. You’re shocked. I can hear you: Must we fall so far from the heady heights? Must we confine our attention to the ground. Is it that bad, doctor?

Indeed it is. You’ll thank me for this – trust me.

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