Tips for Too Much Thinking
One of the challenges I’ve always had is thinking too much. It’s gotten a lot better over the years, with all kinds of help and strategies, and being nice to myself. I think I’ll be addressing this more in my blog, but I did want to get started with a few things that help.
I’m not talking about ruminating or obsessively worrying. The same things might sometimes help, but that’s not what I’m focusing on here.
This is about volume and speed of thought.
The part that’s hard isn’t what you’re thinking about, but rather that you’re thinking so fast that it’s tiring. You may forget what you were thinking about just now, and that can be troubling, because it seemed like a good idea, or just because it’s disconcerting not to know what you were just thinking, but meanwhile you’re about 100 topics further. That leads me to tip #1:
#1. There’s no need to think about what you’re thinking about.
You’re just thinking. Your brain is on auto-pilot with no functioning brakes. It is happening to you.
I’m not saying you ought to get mad at yourself for thinking about your thoughts (aka metathinking). That won’t really help much. And I’m all about whatever helps.
This immediately leads to tip #2:
#2. Don’t fight your thinking. I love this book Taming your Gremlin by Rick Carson. It’s funny and sweet, and it’s all about not fighting the gremlins/committee/editor doing all the criticizing up there in your peanut head. Perhaps you’re doing no criticizing whatsoever, just thinking about baseball statistics and how the people who analyze them are odd and cute furry animals and how nice the birdie is that just flew by plus the article you read this morning about the local police department and also your idea for starting a business to sell more blue clothing wait what was I thinking about chocolate?
Guess what? The same not fighting it helps a lot. Let’s back up a minute, though. Strategies to get along with your chatterbox neurons may be further than you are right now, or you might be just so tired from the chatter and the automatic fighting.
#3. If you fight it, let that be. Sometimes that’s just what you’re doing. Remember- it’s just happening to you…so,
#4. Notice it- let’s talk first step here. Say ‘hey look at my brain go- it’s doing all that thinking!’
This is NOT trying to quiet it. It is NOT suppressing it. It is NOT major meditation (not to discount the value of different kinds of meditation to some people). You may forget you noticed a moment later. If it’s really bad, you might just keep naming the phenomenon every minute or ten or ten seconds- hey look! I’m thinking! Or, oh crap! Stupid thinking! There it goes again!
#5. Give yourself a break. Do whatever it is that lets your brain be still(er). For me it’s watching idiot TV. Also helps me when I can’t decide what to do to help my hyperthinking state. You know how we fear the mind-numbing effects of TV? Well, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. For me, when the brain is explosively chattering, TV = Zen. Zen does not = Zen for me, it equals think-bomb proliferation. Other people I know and have worked with do things like nap; listen to unnamed radio programming their rational selves find offensive; play solitaire; play sudoku; run really fast.
What works for you?
My brain is a lot quieter than it used to be, now that I’m less of a fighter about it, and it rarely gets truly exhausting. And I know way better than to say to myself, "don’t think so much." Yeah, right.