A friend recently asked me to write about people who think too much. This is because she thinks too much. I said that’s funny timing, because “The Thinker” is already on the list. Two other friends had recently described themselves as “thinkers,” as in they know that they think too much as well. I said you know what? So do I! This is another pattern that many people fall into, especially in this fast-paced digital age. I’ve written about The Control Freak and The Perfectionist before. Just like those, The Thinker is nothing more than a personality pattern or set of patterns. As I said in a recent blog post on personality patterns, no matter how deeply ingrained they are or seem to be, they are not who you are. That is a fact. So we can accept them and look at them honestly, but it doesn’t have to be so heavy and personal. Look at it like you’re looking at a character in a movie, book, or play. I’m totally serious. I know that might sound weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s more accurate. And it makes it much easier to own the pattern and then bust yourself in the moment and let it go.
The Thinker is all about living in your head. And what’s wrong with that? Your head is not reality. So it’s just a minor problem… And when we’re constantly thinking, we’re not feeling. And when we’re not feeling (and thus releasing), all of the stresses and emotions from the day just build up until you’re full of baggage and feel terrible. And when you feel bad, what does your mind do? Think about what a problem it is that you feel bad. And what does that do? It makes you feel worse. And then the mind comments on that, and so forth and so on. It’s basically a feedback loop that spirals out of control. And you have the option of nipping it in the bud as soon as it starts. All it takes is learning what’s really going on and then practicing.
Another thing about too much thinking is that it’s usually time-based, meaning that you’re spending most of your time in the past or in the future. There is no past or future, though, so do we really want to spend our time there?? Obviously, the future isn’t here yet, and it’s always “not here yet.” The past is trickier for most people, but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not real, either. There’s a full blog post on the past. The main thing is that the past lives now in the feelings you’re carrying and your thoughts about what happened, including memories (which get hazier and hazier with time) and beliefs (most of which are not true, which is great news). And of course there are physical signs of the past, but these live now. The scar on my leg from that accident last summer is on my leg now. There’s still no past, though.
So what’s the big deal with living in our heads, living in the past and future, constantly thinking? It makes most people feel terrible! Some say that we tend to be depressed about the past and anxious about the future. Chill out. Take a breath. Deal with the past in terms of what you can do about it. Own your mistakes and do your best to learn from them. Make amends if necessary. Make a phone call or send an email. And if something happened in the past that affects your life now, even in a major way, then you have to live with it and deal with it… now. That handles the past.
Do the same with the future. What can you actually do about whatever you’re worrying about? Then do it. Can you control what you’re worrying about? If not, then let it go. Do what you can do and release the rest. Worrying a bunch generally doesn’t help. Don’t interpret this as saying you should be lazy or passive. Far from it, actually. You can be very, very active, but without that stressed-out attitude. It’s all about the ‘tude.
So The Thinker’s job is to get out of his or her head and into reality, which is what’s happening now. This ties in closely with the voice in the head. When you catch yourself lost in useless thought, just gently stop. Let the thoughts go and just like that, there’s silence in your head. Maybe listen to the sounds around you. It really is that simple – you just got out of your head. The thoughts will come back, but who cares? Now you know what to do – just let them go once again. It can get annoying, but don’t waste your time resisting the thoughts. I’ve done this plenty, and it just feeds them. The good news is that as you practice this stopping and letting go, the volume slowly gets turned down. After a while, this excessive thinking simply won’t be such a big deal. You’ll know that you are the one who gives the thoughts their power. Without this power, they’re just thoughts. No big deal.
Well, good luck getting out of your head! Just keep taking those little breaks when you catch yourself living up there, and you just got out, just like that. That’s how it works, and it only takes an instant. The over-thinking comes back, so you just stop again. As we like to say here a lot, wash, rinse, repeat. After a while, you’ll see that you’re headed in the right direction. And as always, let me know if I can help!