Thinking and not thinking

"Sacha, don't overthink this," said a friend of mine. This is not new advice, and naturally made me think about why I've heard it so many times before. (Couldn't help it!)

I can see why people would think that I think too much. I share a lot of thoughts on my blog, and I often ask myself deep questions. Other people play things by ear, but I can usually give a few reasons why I'm doing things or why I'm feeling a certain way. Even when I haven't quite figured out how to express something, people know I'm thinking about it. That said, I can't explain everything. When I try to explain why I do things, I end up helplessly shrugging, trying to describe that—feeling? instinct? intuition?—that _sense_ of what might be the best thing to do at a particular time.

But do I overthink things? Do I strangle my spontaneity in logic and attempt to reduce everything to a logic statement along the lines of "If p implies q then not q implies not p"?

I don't feel that I overthink things. I might give people that impression, though, because I've had a lot of practice thinking about what I feel, I like calibrating myself every so often, and I share those thoughts with other people.

Practice

A friend remarked on my ability to articulate what I feel and what I believe in. Like many things in life, reflection is a matter of practice.

I've long thought about what I feel and why I feel that way. One of the mementos my mom keeps in a fireproof safe is a letter that I wrote her when I was very very young. "I hate you," started the letter, and it went on to explain how upset I was that my mom had broken her promise to Kathy about cookies.

I don't remember writing that letter, but I do remember writing about how I hated it when my dad stole food off my plate, especially in front of my friends - and then leaving the notebook conveniently around. I think I even left it open to the right section. My mom picked it up and brought it to my dad's attention, and my dad duly changed his behavior. In fact, he teased us about it during mealtimes, stealing from my sister's plate instead.

Likewise, I've written and talked about what I want to do with my life. My vision changes from year to year, or even from day to day as I learn new things. Still, because I think about my goals and principles and I keep searching for better ways to express them, I've had plenty of practice thinking and explaining the results.

New stuff I think about builds on stuff I've already thought about, which is great! =)

Calibration

Every so often, I like taking a step back and making sure I'm on the right track. I also feel a deep need to recenter, recharge, and recalibrate whenever I feel something's off. That means taking stock of my goals, my priorities, and my plans for getting from here to there. That means exploring what I feel about certain issues and trying to come to a decision that I respect.

I don't think about the meaning of life all the time, and I try not to worry about things too much. I spend some time thinking about things when I sense that I need to clarify something or when something doesn't quite fit.

I think about these things so that when I am in the moment, I do not need to think. Rather, I can act confidently, knowing that my actions are in line with my principles and values. I love that feeling when you know you're doing just the right thing at just the right time with just the right people. It's definitely worth spending time thinking about one's priorities in order to get that aha! moment.

Sharing

The third factor that makes people think I overthink is that I think out loud: on my blog, in LiveJournal, in conversation... They get exposed to more internal thoughts than they're used to. Granted, they're somewhat filtered thoughts, but the main points are usually there. I'm allowed to be wrong, and I'm allowed to change my mind - but definitely having something out there. When I speak, it's a good idea of teee how immensely happy I waas.

I like sharing my thoughts for many reasons. Other people are going through similar difficulties, and they often have insights and tips to share. Talking with other people keeps me honest, too. In fact, I often prefer small- or medium-sized groups over one-on-ones when it comes to conversation.

Good stuff.

=)

Random Japanese sentence: 私は私の可愛い猫を自慢に思っています。 I am proud of my pretty cat.

Picture by laspompis on Flickr. License: Creative Commons, attribution