There’s a difference.
As a Therapist I work with Clients on their thinking. Exploring their thinking and even changing their thinking.
Sometimes it’s as clear as day, when they start to talk about what is going on for them in the here and now. I’m on the look out for why they came, what the issue is. Then what the issue really is and in this process, I’m listening to the language and the words a client is using.
It always interests me when I hear someone say that they’ve been told – ‘don’t over think it. Or, ‘you think too much.’
I like to find out the context of the thinking they’re talking about, because in some instances a person isn’t thinking too much, it’s just they have too much time to think and so that becomes the most prevalent action within their life.
Thinking can be a distraction from what you are somatically sensing or even denial from a situation, external to you, which is happening within your life. Repetitive thoughts can be due to anxiety.
If you think about over eating, when you begin to desire something specific to eat – your body is actually sending you a message about a need within. For those with an addiction, it can actually be an emotional disconnection which triggers off a disruption in the brain and a whole process of negative behaviour begins. Or it can be the need for certain minerals or vitamins, which in our modern lives, we may easily turn to processed or junk food for – without fully understanding what our body’s real need is.
So, you need to explore exactly what is going on for you:
- Get a journal or a notepad
- Write out what is going on for you to read back later in the day or tomorrow.
- See if it makes sense. Or when you read it back, can you pick up any sort of feeling?
- Is there anything happening within your life at the present moment in time. Change, grief and loss can bring up emotion and a myriad of thoughts, as our system works through what is happening. Try not to judge what you grieve or miss. It’s not always or necessarily a person. It could be a place or even an experience. We’re complex beings us humans and part of being one, is getting to know ourselves, in a similar way we get to know others.
- Are there any reoccurring thoughts, which are written compulsively. If there is something that you just can’t let go over. Seek professional help.
- Keep writing out in a stream of consciousness what is going on for you. Don’t censor yourself in the process.
- Look back at what you’ve written after a week – reflect on how you feel over the period. Use a little bit of mindfulness to ground yourself in the body and check yourself out. Work out what you need.
- If you’re stumped then make an appointment to see a Therapist. With their specialist training, they’ll be able to see if the process of normalisation is what you need. The feeling they’ll help you unravel it, understand what is going on for you or help you work on changing your thoughts to disrupt the process to lesson the impact of the thinking.
But i’d say the very first step would be to recognise if you’re over thinking, or if you just have too much thinking time. Both are completely separate and can be dealt with differently and if it’s just too much time to think, then maybe now is a good time to try a new hobby or read the book you’ve left on the bedside cabinet and haven’t turned a page of. Or pick up the phone and have a good old conversation with a friend or loved one, instead of dashing off a quick text.
Positive Psychology tells us that you can develop a different sort of action rather than automatically drifting into thought. In this instance, like with all new habits, a little perseverance will go a long way.
Science is now revealing how the flow of thoughts actually sculpts the brain, and more and more, we are learning that it’s possible to strengthen positive brain states. Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson. PH.D