Are you in danger of thinking too much?
Do you know the warning signs when you are in danger of thinking too much?
Last year I was described as a thought leader and it got me thinking (funny that). Perhaps in your line of work, a lot of deep thinking and exploring is required. As a writer and content creator, I love to think and I love to listen. I will always have an inquisitive mind and it's why I love the work that I do. Good thinking and problem-solving skills are essential to succeed in both our personal and professional lives. But when it comes to our well-being, how do we find the balance and what are the warning signs when it comes to being in danger of thinking too much?
I was recording a podcast this week and we were talking about the work of Sydney Banks, Scottish- born philosopher, author and lecturer. His work speaks of the three "formless" principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, explaining the entire range of human behaviour and feeling states. I find his approach in terms of how we view our thoughts refreshing. The key is, how do we react to our thoughts and which thoughts do we carry around with us for too long? My wise guest on the podcast challenged me during our conversation. Her words were simple:
'It's clear to see that you are addicted to thinking and you need to chill out because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.'
Wow, it was a powerful moment. As soon as she said that I felt lighter. It was like she had declared full permission for me to let go of some of my thoughts and especially those thoughts that don't serve us because it's all going to be okay.
One of the warning signs I believe we should be aware of is the inability to calm down the mind. Think of times when you feel free and spontaneous, times that you don’t think too much. What springs to mind for me is singing around my kitchen, dancing to music, snuggling with my kids on the sofa or being in the water. Oh and of course a good massage or facial. Now, think of times that your mind is racing and heavy. For me that involves overthinking the words of others. Let me give you an example of one of the many thoughts I had been carrying for longer than necessary. I was at a party recently and got chatting to a friend about an exciting blogging project I was asked to work on. Her response was
'Jojo, don't sell your soul, why not just buy the service?'.
In my head, the project was exciting content to write about and it would also help to promote a brand I was interested in. It feels good to give back. I spent a lot of time mulling it over when the answer was so simple. Her perception was simply different to mine. If it felt natural to me to take on the project, then why overthink it? Surely, I should just bash on? We all have different views of the world and that is okay. The key is listening to our gut feeling yet so often we can overcomplicate things, which pulls us away from that happy state we are meant to be in. Perhaps when you are in a restaurant, you order the first thing that catches your eye on the menu. The chances are, that was the best choice for you. Sometimes I overthink that too though. Last weekend I was compelled towards the butternut and sage gnocchi, but what if I got food envy over the ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce? The thoughts continued. Perhaps I should get the salad, as I ate more carbs than I should have at a work event the previous day. Or would that be boring? You get my drift? It’s exhausting.
My challenge to you is to be aware of your thoughts. Don’t try to fight them. It’s great to listen to others, for one we can learn so much more when we listen with an open mind. It’s great to question things too. Yet perhaps we carry too many questions around with us. Questions based on the beliefs of others, pressures from society, guilt and what we think we should do. Ultimately though, we already have all the answers and when we simplify things, those answers become clearer. It’s of no surprise that many of us find clarity on a beach or peaceful holiday. I know I have made some pretty life changing decisions over the years on a beach.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is time. Time out to think less about the opinions of others. Time to chill out when it comes to simple choices we should be free to make, such as what to eat and which clients to work with. It’s very hard to be authentic when you rely on data, history and the opinions of others. Learn to be in tune with that gut feeling. Live it because it is all going to be okay.