Can you think too much?

Is that a bad thing? And anyway, not thinking, how hard can it be?

Well to someone with anxiety, it can be nigh on impossible and also totally exhausting. Just not being able to switch off!

I’m not saying thinking is a bad thing, where would we be if inventors and entrepreneurs didn’t constantly come up with new ideas? What would happen if we didn’t think seriously about things and mull things over? Nothing obviously.

But what isn’t healthy is when you just can’t stop thinking, and the thoughts you have are totally unhelpful. They don’t even need to be about earth shattering events, hundreds of silly little thoughts about seemingly insignificant things can overwhelm and when unchecked can have a massive impact.

I am an overthinker, I overthink EVERYTHING!

  • I have what I should see as a successful day at work – but do I see it as a successful day at work? No! I pick apart the one line email that someone sent 5 minutes before I leave the office, or that call when someone said something that threw me off track – What did they mean by that? Have I done something wrong? What was that tone for? Do they not trust me? How should I respond? What are they saying about me to other people? Why do they not like me…… the list goes on.
  • I meet someone I haven’t met before, when I leave them, do I think “That was really nice to meet them”. Well maybe, but not before I’ve thought Why did I say that? They must think I’m an idiot! I wish I’d said that. That’ll be the least time I hear from them. What a bloody idiot I am……
  • I’ve just decorating the hall, do I get satisfaction from a job well done? Well maybe, but not until I’ve picked apart all the things I believe I’ve arsed up – there is paint on the carpet, there is a drip up there, that needs another coat, should I repaint the skirting board….. or right whats next, the bathroom, the kitchen? How much will that cost?, when will I get a chance to do it?……
  • I’m home from work – can I sit down and relax? Of course I can, I can sit on my arse and do nothing! I’ll enjoy this programme I’ve been looking forward to for ages……..or will I? I might be sitting on my backside, and I may not switch my laptop on and do work – but what is going on in my head? Rewind to all the questions about what that email was all about! Fast forward – what is happening tomorrow – What calls have I got? What will I say? How will I react if that happens? What if they say that? How will I deal with this? Maybe I should write some notes down now. I’ll just put a reminder in my diary to do that or say tis…..Wait a minute, are there dishes in the sink? I’ll do them later. Hmm, maybe I should go and do them now. What about ironing a shirt for tomorrow I better do that. While I’m at it should I check my account balance? The kids need new school uniforms – how much is that going to cost? The grass needs cut – when will I get that done? I’ve still not decorated the bathroom – when the hell am I going to do that? How much will it cost? I know, I’ll do a budget for it now! Maybe I should write a list of what we’ve got in the freezer while I’m at it……………My wife – “that was a great episode wasn’t it!” Me – “Aye – brilliant!” (to self – oh, is it finished, what the hell happened I don’t remember……)

I’m sure many will recognise this, and similarly many will think – there is nothing wrong with that, its keeping your mind active and making sure you get things done! Yes, to an extent it is. Its when those thoughts become so much they overwhelm and take over and you just can’t switch them off that it becomes a problem, because the thoughts become all consuming and nothing gets done, which exacerbates the negative thoughts further and your beliefs become your own self-fulfilling reality……..”see I have failed again”! But you haven’t though, you’ve just not switched off for too long!

I regret how it impacts my family, how I’ve shouted at my kids when they’ve done nothing wrong, how I try to hide it as I don’t want my kids to know or I don’t want to burden my wife, but knowing it has the opposite effect when she is frustrated by my sitting in silence when she wants to talk or when I can’t sit still because I have to be doing something.

It doesn’t have to be that way! However, often the hardest thing is to recognise that it is happening, to realise the impact its having on the people you love the most, and to admit it to yourself!

Anxiety sucks, but it doesn’t need to define you unless you let it.  I admit, I have nearly let it define me on too many occasions for my liking, but that doesn’t mean it is who I am and you can beat it. It is hard and it manifests itself in many ways, but with the right support and strategies you can beat it.

Fortunately, I have the support network – a great family, friends & colleagues but I know not everybody does. Lets just say, its good to talk, and I know that isn’t easy either, sometimes its easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you or isn’t close to you.

In future posts I intend to continue to share some of my other experiences and some of the things that are working for me in dealing with my anxieties. If you want to – drop me a line, I’d like to hear from you.