It’s only in recent years that I have come to understand that I overthink. In previous years I would have never thought of overthinking as thing, instead it was possibly hyper intelligence gone mad. Something unique to me and my way of being in the world. It is hard for me to know where the overthinking began. In school I probably equated overthinking to being bored out my nut. Like where are we going with this? What’s the point? Seriously is that all we are covering in the lesson today. Is that all we are expected to learn in a whole year? Oh my god is any of this going to be in anyway relevant to my future life? It certainly didn’t feel that way. Yet I was always confused. Always overwhelmed. It couldn’t possibly be this simple? Yet alarmingly it always was, even now a lot of the time. Few of us get things right the first time around. Yet it seems to be something that is demanded of us in the western education system.
When I fist remember overthinking as an actual problem it was in my early working life. When I was a waitress trying to figure out how to get through the daily to do list and rather just starting with what needed to get done. Sitting down to figure out in what order to do them in order to be most efficient. Which of course lead to complete inefficiency and of course reflecting that there must be a way to think my way out of it or through it so I can get it done faster. Rather than accepting that doing was the skill set. That as I learned the work routines I would get faster because it would become easier and more instinctual. I know it seems obvious now. Linear learning is a long way from the circular learning of indigenous teaching where we repeat something over and over again until it is learned. However back then that seemed like a radical kind of learning that I am only beginning to catch up with now. I makes me feel like I should be doing better.
Of course you know capitalism and AI are about to destroy our human ecologies. So you know maybe I’m right and I’ll be standing right over here behind my organic ethically sourced, upcycled climate disaster barricade. Cause you know there’s no running from climate disaster, in case you didn’t know already. Sorry for the bad news. This sums up the relationship between overthinking and eco-anxiety.
If I could explain the opposite to overthinking I would probably describe it as something called flow.
Overthinking can be applied to anything from cleaning the house to responding to communications or finally sitting down to do our life’s work. No pressure there. We don’t know what to do or in that moment at the very least what to do first. Overthinking stops us from flowing and usually ends up with our minds and often our body’s in tail spin. We get caught up in the consequences of getting wrong rather than the process of getting in done. Overthinking often removes our impulses to create. Overthinking can be excrutiating and crippling.
Overthinking is a trauma response of a highly critical mind. When we overthink there are two things going on. One; we have internalised the highly critical dialogues of the people that surround us or Two; our egoic mind is overdrive drive trying to resolve the things we can’t feel. Ether way overthinking is trying to protect us from an unidentified threat. Overthinking is our mind trying to protect us from pain. Maybe we were critisise as childran, maybe we have a parent that always finds fault. Maybe that criticism and fault finding forced us into our shame body. Really I think that overthinking is born out of the need to create perfection to avoid crticism and the pain criticism causes. I’ve yet to hear overthinking as a disassociative state. As I think about overthinking, (no pun intended) I muse as to whether it is a disassociative state of the right handed mind that is desperate to execute fantasies of control. What I know is that overthinking has kept me stuck. Lost in anxiety and trapped in the pain of shame. That the confusion about what to do next has left me not doing anything at all. I’m glad that time is past now.
If I could explain the opposite to overthinking I would probably describe it as something called flow. Intuitively and instinctually humans do exactly what we are meant to in the right time in the right moment if we allow ourselves to trust. I use poetry as a meditation of presencing that brings me right back to the hear and now. I am able to flow through my work far more easily than I ever was. If something feels wrong I put it down until it flows. Pausing the thoughts, following my instincts, listening to my feelings and flowing through my instincts has helped me to gain a lot of momentum in my life.
It might lead to half finished projects. It also leads to a little more done than the perpetual interal gripping that held me back for making any moves at all. It’s more of a dance than a linear progression and it feels beautiful.
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This article was written by a dyslexic with a punk attitude.