WAY a little too much. Thinking, in general, is good. In fact, I would argue that it is an overall encouraged activity. Thinking too much, however, is bad. Thinking too much is one of the diagnostic criterion for several psychological disorders: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder among others. My over-thinking falls into the categories of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder because it tends to be extremely worrisome and self critical. But, rather than discuss my neurotic over-thinking issues in clinical terms, I’d prefer to go back to my childhood to explore them (not in a Freudian way, but in a Dr. Seuss-ian way…and maybe with some Star Wars in there, too).
I like to personify my neurotic habit of over-thinking, and refer to it as the Thinker-Too-Mucher thing (original name, huh? 😀 ) The Thinker-Too-Mucher thing is a Dr. Seuss-like, salesman type of character who lives in my AMYgdala. I believe the lil’ guy started off with good intentions. He enthusiastically encouraged me to think, question, and learn. But, somewhere along the way, he got a little too enthusiastic and turned to the DARK SIDE <—-Star Wars reference. Now, he takes regular jaunts through my frontal lobes peddling his wares of neurotic worries and senseless insecurities; all of which I buy on a regular basis.
Note the following example of my thought process while writing an email.
Thought 1: “I hope my last email didn’t come across as too snotty…maybe I should have written it differently…I’ll write another one and put a couple of smiley faces in it…and maybe I’ll add a smiley in the subject line, too”.
30 minutes later….
Thought 2: “Hmmm…but, I don’t want to come across as a push-over or trying too hard, so maybe I should just put one smiley face in the email, that way, they’ll know I mean business…but friendly business.
1.5 hours later…
Thought 3: “Hmmm…but, before I send it, I should probably make sure I used ‘into’ correctly…is it ‘into’ in this case, or ‘in to’?” “And, what about these dot dot dot thingies I like to use so much? Am I using them correctly in this context? I totally forgot…I’d better look it up”.
Thought 4: “Is it really THAT big of a deal if this email isn’t 100% grammatically correct? Just hit send and be done with it already!” <—NOTE- this type of thought typically occurs after the consumption of an adult beverage, at which point the Thinker-Too-Mucher is off duty and can take a nap. If an adult beverage is not consumed, however, he continues to employ his most effective marketing strategies…
2 hours later…
Thought 5: “Well, I suppose it IS POSSIBLE, at some point, that an English Professor, or some sort of respected linguistic professional may come across this email, note all of the grammatical errors, and debunk my credibility as a human being.”
3 hours later…
Thought 678: “!@%@#^!!! !@#%^$!! UGH!!! I’ll just send this #$@$^@^$#$&#*#%& $%^#&# email tomorrow!!
The Thinker-Too-Mucher seems to work over-time whenever I encounter a stressful life situation, or drink too much coffee. It’s almost as if he is hosting one of those “YES YOU CAN” motivational sales conferences in my head…the kind in which he recruits other Thinker-Too-Mucher’s, and offers prizes and free cruises to those who can sell the most ridiculous concerns.
Recently, an unusually sad event occurred in my family. I wanted to write something about it, but my purchasing power was spent on neurotic worries and ridiculous concerns before I was able to write about it eloquently and in a timely manner. The struggles I had in trying to write about this event prompted me to notice just how present the Thinker-Too-Mucher is!
Although the Thinker-Too-Mucher does simmer down quite a bit after I’ve consumed a few bottles of Chardonnay, and I always feel like I”m writing better when I’m drunk, becoming an alcoholic is probably not the best coping strategy. So, I have been pursuing other, more cost-effective means of coping that will also allow me to drive legally.
I’ve been reading a lot about mindfulness and meditation, and took an 8 week meditation class as well. With all of this mindfulness and meditation influence, I am learning to accept and befriend all aspects of myself, including the Thinker-Too-Mucher. I can befriend the Thinker-Too-Mucher, and thank him for providing me with such high quality product. Those neurotic worries and senseless insecurities are top-notch. But, perhaps I might politely suggest that he consider peddling some other, more constructive obsessive thoughts; such as local gas prices, how many miles per gallon my car gets on the highway, or, which direction I am facing when driving away from the sun. Questions I devote absolutely NO THOUGHT to whatsoever, but would feel super smart in front of males if I could answer.
P.S. I would have posted this two weeks ago, but believe me, I thought WAAAAAYY too much about it!