Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stop thinking!

American culture values rational thought.  We tend to admire those who are level-headed, who make logical, well thought-out decisions.  In fact, most of us would say that the "right" way to make decisions is by conducting a rational analysis of the risks and benefits of all available options.  "Good" decision making is an intellectual process.

Now I'll be the first to admit that it is typically less than ideal to make choices based entirely upon one's feelings.  In fact, emotions frequently interfere with judgment, rendering one incapable of making good decisions.

My personal belief is that decisions are best made using a combination of both thought and feeling.  This is what Marsha Lenehan, creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, calls the "wise mind."  The wise mind is the place where your rational mind and your feeling mind join in agreement.

So there are clearly times when it is beneficial to set your feelings aside in the name of good decision making.  I also believe, however, that there comes a time when it is best to set rational thought aside.  Consider this: most of us probably know or have known someone who we believe "thinks too much."  In my work I have encountered many patients who tell me they over-think things or that they can't turn their minds off when they want to relax.  Perhaps you can recall a time when you completely over-analyzed a problem or situation and ended up distressed or confused.   Clearly, it is possible to over-think things.  This can cause us to second guess ourselves, to look for meaning where none exists, or to become so overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible options that we become paralyzed and unable to take action.

I make this point as a reminder to myself.  I am one of those people who tends to think too much.  This inevitably leads me to question myself, my life, and the decisions I've made, which ultimately creates anxiety and self-doubt.  Of course, sometimes it is beneficial to examine yourself and your life, to identify where you can improve, to change direction, or to set new goals for yourself.  This is not, however, something that needs to be done daily.  Thinking too much about what I've chosen to do with my life just leads to insecurity and restlessness.  It prevents me from being satisfied with who I am and what I've accomplished.  There comes a time when it is best to just stop thinking - and enjoy living.


  1. Couldn't agree more!

    Let the unconscious dominate... it knows best.

    Commit and accept!

    Commit to (X) decision... Accept all outcomes!


  2. Well, Perhaps you should set out on a few trips with a "framework" in mind but fill in the details as you travel.

    This is the best exercise for me in not thinking too much. I am always surprised and most of the surprises are pleasant.

    Just a thought.


  3. Melody,

    Would still love to read Your Story at CoachYourMind. is waiting...



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