I overthink; therefore, I am confused

December 23, 2014

It seems like we overthink everything—way too much. Is it because of our insecurities, worries, fears? In any case, we usually end up confused.


Which is the best product to buy? How do I decide who is my soulmate? What is the most constructive way to discipline my children? Am I really on the right path in life? How do I know for sure?


What can we do to reduce this cognitive electrical storm? Well, if it involves seeking the answer to a problem, it helps to calm down the prefrontal cortex just behind your forehead. That part of the brain deals with analytical reasoning and other executive functioning.


When we are analyzing something, our prefrontal cortex tries to block out anything distracting. However, those very same distractions may contain bits and pieces of information that could be useful in solving the problem.


Have you ever had the experience of having an idea pop into your head when you were tired and had already put it out of your mind? That’s what I’m talking about. Give your analytical mind a well deserved sabbatical. Taking a little break from struggling with the problem may be just what you need to generate new ideas.


When you take the focus off the analytical part of your brain for a while and do something calming, subtle pieces of information that the prefrontal cortex disregarded as irrelevant can enter your peaceful mind. And, wham! The light bulb goes off with a new idea.


It helps to engage in a non-analytical activity to clear your mind. After all, you’re not exactly taking your mind off the problem if you engage in another cognitively challenging endeavor that addresses the same type of issue.


One of the best ways I have found to rejuvenate my mind is to get out in nature—a walk in the woods, meditating under a tree, strolling on the beach, or a slow jog.


Several years ago, I had a major decision to make regarding my career. I needed to decide whether to stay in my current job as a therapist, or switch to some other line of work within the field of psychology.


At the time, I was fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a beautiful mountain range. So on the weekend, I spent a whole day meditating by a sky-blue lake up in the mountains. Along with food and water, I brought a notebook and pen for journaling.


My big question was: What can I do that would best serve the community?


It was only when I opened myself up to new possibilities that I recognized options I had not seen before. Strange how those options were there all along; I just did not recognize them. The peaceful tranquility of Mother Nature calmed me and allowed my cognitive mind to take a back seat, while my creative mind illuminated the otherwise dimly-lit path before me.


Today’s Loving Suggestion: Whatever problem your mind is struggling with, take a break and do some activity that is completely different. Give your prefrontal cortex a rest and let your creative mind express itself for a while.


If you are able, take a meditative walk out in nature. Focus on your loved ones. Let your thoughts be filled with images of people in your life who have shown you kindness. Feel the gratitude in your heart. Let that gratitude warm you and relax your troubled mind.


When your mind feels refreshed, return to your previous, analytical task of problem-solving. With a fresh perspective, you may find that you are open to new ideas you had not even been aware of before.

If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at zenithcityweekly@yahoo.com. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.

The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

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