Stop Thinking About it, Sis, it's Pointless Anyway
Overthinking has always been synonymous with living and breathing to me. I’ve been a natural over-thinker since the moment I realized I could talk to myself inside my head; which was around 3 or 4 years old. So, being told that my thoughts don’t matter during a guided meditation really shook me to my core. How could my thoughts not matter when they consume so much of my energy, my time and and every single one of my days? I wondered. Though fiercely disagreeing with the statement, I momentarily dismissed it for the sake of completing the session. Later on, I contemplated on my disposition for the rest of the day; what exactly was meant by this and could it actually be true? I found that once I set aside my ego, it didn’t take very long for it to click. Everything that is meant to happen is going to happen, regardless of what we think about it.
The way I understand it, we use our thoughts to essentially prepare for an unknown future. We use our train of thought as calculations to make our best prediction about what is going to happen next, and become prepared for it. Sometimes our minds take us down memory lane, as we obsess over events that have happened in the past. We may attempt to figure out why something happened the way it did, or how we could have altered the outcome in some way. Whether we are stuck on the past or anxious about the future, these thought processes are only concerned with hallucinations and/or hypotheticals; not reality. I say this because our conscious sense of reality is based on what is right in front of us; what’s happening right now. Our mind’s thoughts are extremely advantageous when they’re used in the manner of serving ourselves in the present moment. That’s all thinking matters for, to figure out how to improve your current state of being. The truth is, there are very few things we can control, and we think we can control more than we truly can. Although most of us would agree that the future is out of our hands, we still spend so much time and energy trying to control it anyway. We use our precious resources to plan out the way we want our future to be, and I think it’s a truly a waste of time and energy. Future events are already programmed into the universe — written in the stars — or however else you’d prefer to put it; and the predetermined course of our lives is indifferent to what we think about it.
Much of the time, our thoughts feel to be out of our control, at least for me. There’s a saying that I always circle back to whenever I begin to feel this way, and that is, “When you worry, you only suffer twice.” It seems quite simple to understand, but it was profound to me at the time, because I never saw my worrying and overthinking as suffering before. But that’s exactly what I was doing, putting myself through unnecessary suffering. I would go through the stress of imagining what is going to happen (and all the other possible scenarios) and if things didn’t happen the way I predicted, I would feel like I dodged a bullet, but I still put myself through that stress for no reason. I still wasted all that energy worrying about it when I could have used it more productively for myself at the time. If they did go how I estimated, I would still have to endure it, and thinking about it would not have made it less difficult, only more real. Thinking, predicting and expecting things to go badly will only make your experience that much worse if they do. When you understand that your thoughts really have no leverage or meaning in the way the things will play out in the universe — things that are out of your control, that is — it becomes much easier to just let them go. Of course, those thoughts will still come at times, but you won’t be as tempted to follow them anymore. You’ll be able to acknowledge them as simple, passing thoughts and allow them to float away.
Letting go of ruminating thoughts create space and energy for our brilliant minds to imagine things that we have never even seen before, things that are beyond our consciousness. When our minds are in the driver’s seat for too long, we can forget about the grand abilities we are capable of. As intelligent as humans are, we were created to do so much more than think, and our intelligence goes beyond that. We were also created to feel, to love, to explore, to create, connect, and so much more divine experiences that we can do without thinking. When the mind has been controlling the show for a long period of time, we become dependant on creating a step-by-step plan for all our goals and desires. But we are more than the goals we have set for ourselves, and this is important to remember to not get completely consumed by them and lose yourself in the process.
We all have abilities that we have never considered exploring, and I feel that those can only be revealed to us when we refrain from worshiping our mind’s thoughts and racing along with them. Sometimes, when I notice I’m going down that path, I have to literally say it out loud to myself, “Thank you for your concern, but I got this,” as a message to send to my brain to let something go. Rather than trying to simply dismiss them or ignore them, I try to approach it like I would a friend, where I first acknowledge that the thoughts are being heard, and I understand where they are coming from. It sounds silly, but if you’re someone who also suffers from overthinking, try to come up with your own version that states to your mind, “I hear you, I understand you, but let me take it from here.” I noticed that when I started this practice, my subconscious started creating solutions to problems I wasn’t even thinking about it, because I was no longer concerned with one single subject anymore. When our point of view is in tunnel vision, in which we are completely focused on one area of our life, we lose the ability to see the interconnectedness of everything. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle one piece at a time without looking at the entire picture. There may be only one piece that is giving you trouble at the moment, but you still have to rely on all the rest of the pieces staying connected. By zooming out and seeing the bigger picture, we become open to so many other possibilities. Your thoughts can definitely inspire action, but it is the action that truly makes a lasting difference, not the thought itself.
So, in truth, your thoughts do have value, of course. For example, if you tell yourself that you’re beautiful, you will feel beautiful, and if you tell yourself that you’re ugly, you will feel ugly; it’s as simple as that. However, it won’t change how you look. What you tell yourself about something does not actually change what it is. Although it will determine how you feel about it, it’s still ultimately the same as it was before you made an opinion about it. Everything simply is. Just as we simply are. If you let yourself, you will overthink yourself to death. And I don’t mean that dramatically; the constant over thinking will either manifest itself into some kind of disease or illness, or you will start to speak your fears into existence and they will turn into reality if you don’t act on preventing them from happening. All I’m suggesting here is that we don’t just dwell or linger. Just let go and flow.