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With personal well-being becoming more and more prevalent in popular awareness as something to take care of, all sorts of different practises ranging from things like meditation, to decluttering, to regular exercise have been getting a lot of attention in recent times.
While a term like “self care” naturally encompasses many different things, ranging from physical health and fitness to mindset, however, one area where a major proportion of wellness related issues seem to stem from is simple chronic overthinking.
According to various spiritual and philosophical traditions around the world and throughout the ages, overthinking and being overly preoccupied with the “monkey mind” is a recipe for a disaster in many ways — and with the increasing pace of modern life, and the increase in how much information we are all bombarded by on a daily basis, it can seem more and more difficult to take a step back and detach.
Here are a few reasons why being overly wrapped up in your thoughts might ruin your day, and why it might be a really good idea to look into ways of breaking the cycle of rumination — whether that means taking up a calm meditation practice or going for a run.
All of us, when we are wrapped up in our own thoughts — and especially when we are caught in a cycle of negative thinking and rumination — are at risk of losing perspective, and of taking our negative thoughts at face value.
When all is said and done, though, our thoughts about many topics are very often at least flawed, if not outright incorrect. Based on our experiences, our assumptions, our emotional states at the time, and various other factors, we all tend to construct some pretty elaborate narratives and mental models about the world, and these often go unchallenged.
Unfortunately, these narratives are frequently pretty self-defeating and counterproductive. It may be the case, for example, that you’ve fallen into a belief that you don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, even though you’d like to create your own business, because you’re “not creative,” or are “bad with time management.”
If you get too wrapped up in those thoughts, and in the labels that you attach to yourself as a result, you may never end up challenging those beliefs and taking steps to proactively change things.
Letting disempowering and flawed or, at least incomplete, thought patterns dictate your life is not likely to be helpful.
One of the reasons why things like sophisticated and visually appealing UX animation is so important, and why graphic design is such a key part of the modern professional landscape in general, is because of a simple fact: a lot of the “action” in life happens beneath the level of our conscious thoughts.
Just as good branding with strong visual elements has a way of hitting people on an emotional level that comes beneath the level of conscious thought, so too do a lot of the most meaningful and significant parts of life involve deeper feelings and intuitions that overthinking can get in the way of.
If you’re spending time with a loved one, for example, but if your mind is constantly churning, there’s a good chance that you won’t be as present as you would like to be, in order to connect and have fun. And when it comes down to it, things like love definitely happen at a level below the level of our conscious thoughts.
Overthinking is usually, at least in part, about attempted problem solving on some level or another. It’s about avoiding threats, analysing situations, planning the best course of action, and so on.
But if you don’t regularly take a step back from those kinds of thought patterns, you can miss a lot of what’s actually most meaningful and present in your life.
If you find yourself caught up in a thought spiral — and especially when you find yourself caught up in a pattern of obsessive negative thinking — it can be very difficult not to believe that you need to keep “thinking things through” in order to resolve whatever’s on your mind.
While reflection can certainly be important, though, a reality about obsessive overthinking is that thought spirals can simply be endless. If you are trying to think your way to a tidy conclusion to an obsessive train of thought, it’s far more likely that you’ll actually just keep going in circles indefinitely.
When you find yourself in this situation, one of the best things that you can do is often to just get up and to go and do something active instead — ideally something that involves a component of being physically active.
Many people find that going for a stroll does a lot more for perspective, mental clarity and well-being than sitting in one place and trying to “figure things out” that way.
One thing you’ve got to say about the conscious, rational mind is that it tends to be excellent at coming up with highly convincing but ultimately self-serving excuses and stories.
If you’ve ever planned to go the gym but have found yourself feeling tired and unmotivated, you’ve probably noticed all sorts of thoughts popping up in your head to defend the idea of skipping your workout that day, potentially including things like “it wouldn’t be a good workout anyway because I’m a bit tired… and you know, I could use that time to work on a project of mine… actually, I can’t go to the gym anyway because I forgot to do the laundry earlier… and I think my back might be a bit sore…”
If you allow these sorts of thought patterns to hold too much sway over your life, there’s a risk that you won’t end up doing much.
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