reinterpreting prompts

Sometimes, I Just Think Too Much

Prompt: To be, to have, to think, to move; which of these verbs do I feel most connected to? 

Most definitely, I relate to that verb, “to think” over more action-oriented or “experiential” verbs.  Being a “strong introvert,” I’m most content when quietly reading, working on my computer, drawing and doing “crafty” things. I do like getting together for good conversation with close friends. I also love chatting with someone while we enjoy a hike or bike ride. But, eventually I gotta get away for solitude. That adds up to my spending lots of time in my head, contemplating and thinking.

Sometimes, even I know I spend too much time in my head; that I remain in that virtual domain when I’d be better off standing on terra firma. Clearly, if our prevailing “information culture” is a reliable indicator, society prizes and rewards high-quality thought. (And sometimes we reward it when it’s not so high quality, as The Hangover and Twilight films prove!). Having the ability to think clearly and analytically is integral to living effectively. Or, considered from another perspective, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

In that spirit, I like to think–that verb again!–I am an intelligent person who’s reasonably perceptive and insightful; who possesses a great memory; and who’s able to work out “what’s going on here?”–and come up with an explanation.

However, my experience also suggests that thinking has its drawbacks. In some instances I’ve overdone it. When faced with a decision, I’ll unearth all possible pros and cons and carefully try them on for comfort. That prompts me, in turn, to delay, defer or outright procrastinate deciding. People sometimes become irritated with me over this behavior. (I’ve lost patience with myself over it. I actually passed up responding to the earlier prompt because I literally couldn’t decide between “fiction” or “non-fiction”!)

I’ve also escaped to my intellect when painful feelings come up. Just recently, I unconsciously “mischanneled” my anxiety over a new drawing that wasn’t shaping up. Instead of hashing through that frustrating problem, I ruminated and fumed about a daughter’s questionable (but, by me, uncontrollable) behavior. Repeatedly I’m reminded it often seems easier to control the uncontrollable than proactively focusing my mental and physical energy on problems within my personal sphere. And consider another twist on misplaced thinking: I’ve played out entire scenarios between others and myself, safely in my head, instead of directly confronting and working through them with those others. (That thinking habit, in particular, usually spares me short-term discomfort, but later unleashes out-of-proportion misunderstanding and hurt feelings.)

It’s these negative aspects of “to think” that initially arose for me when I read the prompt. My occasional “overthinking” (and indecisiveness), thinking as a refuge, or thinking substituted for actually relating (and working through stuff) with other people have each backfired on me, painfully. Thinking, for all its potential, also has its negative aspects.

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