Stop Over Thinking...Yeah, Right!
I saw something on Facebook yesterday that listed the eight things people who are spiritually evolved do. And it was good news to find that I do most of them, daily. Things like being grateful, shit like that. I don’t place a lot of stock in those type of Facebook things...unless of course they provide me confirmation of things that I think I already know or want to know to be true.
One of the illustrious eight was that spiritually evolved people have “stopped over thinking.” Now as a founding member of Over Thinkers Anonymous, I found this line item to be problematic. Like, “WTF? Why would anyone choose to over think things? No one would really, and if it were easy to just stop, fuck if we wouldn’t have done that a long fucking time ago!”
So I took exception to this particular one.
I believe that there is a stark difference between overthinking and ruminating. And both have some value. Where I get tripped up every single time is when I think that my thinking is going to somehow, one day, control and manage the outcome. That is a short ticket to crazy town. Every. Single. Time.
But I cannot help my overthinking tendencies, or proclivities, they are just who I am. I am a thinker. I would rather think than feel. It is safer and provides me a comfortable delusion that I am safe. Feeling is way scarier and threatening. And I know there are a lot of over feelers out there but they do not seem to garnish the bad rap that we over thinkers do...
I guess there are people who are called out for being “too sensitive” but not for over feeling. And I know several people who are over feelers to the extreme. And I kind of like that about them. They are the ones that can’t make it through a conversation without crying. See, now I would have added crying to that list of eight. To me, as I have evolved, crying has become one of the best indicia of my spiritual development. When I got sober, I hadn’t cried in years. And this was not because some heinous, cry worthy shit had not gone down, just that I was so locked up within my thinking mind that I didn’t have access to the feeling parts of myself. And I envied those who were able to access that with aplomb, I couldn’t do it, like at all.
No I was locked up over here in the prison on my over thinking mind. Thinking my way through life, analyzing everything to death, before taking any action and certainly before feeling anything. I would have a feeling, then I would run it through the thinking committee and they almost always killed the feeling before it got out of subcommittees. And that made me feel safe. And even though I know on an intellectual level that feelings are not facts and thinking is not going to save me, if I had to choose, I would pick thinking every damn time.
But...but, these days, my feelings feel less threatening and that is why I think I can cry today. It still isn’t easy for me. But I can actually cry now when I am hurt, instead of processing all that shit a decade later, or two or five.
My point in all of this is that those of us who were perhaps predisposed to this overthinking way of life, who have then had to survive a great deal of trauma, might always be in the thinking club as admittance to the feeling club is still way too much, often, and terrifying. I think, in order, many times, to not feel.
Which brings me to my final point...perhaps all over thinkers are really over feelers in disguise. The feelings are just too much so we develop a good cover, intellect, to manage this treacherous landscape of emotion.
So perhaps the next time you are about to tell someone that they are over thinking it, maybe look to see what they are avoiding feeling. I mean this is what I do with myself. When I thinking something to death, I have come to the understanding that this is almost always a very desperate attempt to not feel. Not feel what? Fear.
I was up yesterday as I mentioned over thinking something and it was disturbing to me and several other people that I pulled into my intellectual thought spiral. It was exhausting, for all of us. (thank you, you know who you are!). And I was to receive no real peace until about midday when I suddenly realized that I was afraid. Afraid of the feeling of loss that ran beneath all that thought shitstorm. I was afraid to lose. And that, my friends, will cause an over thinker to burn more brain cells than is healthy, normal or recommended by pretty much anyone.
What I have learned is that I cannot stop overthinking things, like say, I stopped drinking, smoking or the like. I have to think, it is not something that I can just commit to and eradicate it from my life...I am going to have to think...and for me, that is always going to result in a plethora of thoughts, welcome and unwelcome.
But what I know now that I didn’t know, well, until really yesterday, is that when I am engaging in the overthinking anything it is because I am afraid. And I will do pretty much anything to avoid feeling afraid. And feeling feelings that feel like they are going to kill me.
So while I agree that highly evolved persons likely have mastered an ability to NOT overthink things, I think the more spiritual way to describe this is that they have perhaps made peace with their feelings. It isn’t really about the thinking at all...it is about finding a way to live life, allowing thoughts to do their thing, while also, allowing feelings to do theirs.
I know that I am most balanced when I am able to think and feel simultaneously. I am likely never going to be one of those over feelers...well, at least not the first time around. But now, at like the hundredth iteration of a thought, I do have an awareness that perhaps all this thinking is because I am avoiding feeling. And this is a huge spiritual leap for me, even recognizing this means that I have a prayer today to be able to see that which I am thinking in a mad effort to avoid feeling. Since I am aware, I can stop, and just sit with whatever feeling I am trying to out run and just let it be there.
And then feelings, unlike thoughts, just tend to disappear often as quickly as they came. Thoughts have staying power, though. And they persist, long after the catalyst has disappeared from view. Feelings however are more transient, more fleeting, more replaceable than thoughts. Thoughts require conviction and a back story that feeling just doesn’t.
And I am learning one day at a time to just be present for all of it, the thoughts and the feelings. And to see that when I am engaging in overthinking it is almost always because I am afraid to feel. And now, now that I know this, I can just feel it and release it and let it go. And that is the way, the manner, the gift exit to over thinking...at least I think so.