The Stupidity of Thinking about Things Twice

by Chris Baker, Sunshine Coast, Australia

Just lately it has become so clear to me how much of my life I waste by thinking about things over and over again.

What I realise now is that I only need to think about a task when I am doing it, rather than multiple times before and after. For most of my life I have thought about what I am going to be doing this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, in an exhausting way. And if that’s not enough busy-ness, I can also worry and think about things that I have already done… over and over again.

It seems quite exhausting just thinking about it. Oops, there I go again…

It is so much better for me to be thinking about what I am doing right now. And so for now that means thinking about what I am writing. But even while doing this, my mind sometimes wanders off-task to start thinking about something else.

As I bring my mind to what is happening right now I find that there is a deep steadiness that comes over me. When my mind is busy with thinking about things that have not even happened yet, there is a sense of agitation or worry that this brings, and I feel unease in my body.

The stupid thing about thinking about things that might happen tomorrow is that it is just a made up story about how things might be. But made up or not, that doesn’t stop my mind from creating a whole drama about it; say a conversation I want to have with someone tomorrow. I can think about what I might say, about how they would reply, and so on until I’ve written a script in my head. And then I go and replay it again in a slightly different way because I can think of another way that it might be.

And so on and on it goes with my mind making up stories about tomorrow, and worrying about interactions of yesterday.

I’ve read lots of books on this topic of mindfulness, or living the moment, yet despite seeing the futility of not being present, I have continued with this same pattern more or less most of my life.

Until lately that is. The stupidity of thinking about things that haven’t happened yet has become very clear to me. So clear that I now notice very quickly when I am doing that, and bring my mind back to what is happening right now. And that means coming back to feel my body. To feel a connection with myself that is missing when I go off with the fairies.

THE CATALYST FOR CHANGE: THE GENTLE BREATH MEDITATION AND OBSERVATION

The catalyst for this change has been the Gentle Breath Meditation that I have learned with Serge Benhayon, It is a very simple meditation that takes only a few minutes. How many minutes it takes, or how many breaths it takes me to come back to myself depends on how far I have wandered and how much I have become caught up in a story that I have made up.

Now that I observe myself quite closely, I can choose to come back before I have strayed too far. It may often take only a few breaths — but if it takes more than that, it is a sign that I have wandered off from my connection with myself.

And the more I practice being with me, the more easy it is to notice when I stray.

The futility of thinking about things that haven’t happened yet hits me loud and clear.

THE GIFT OF OBSERVATION

I have become an observer of myself and can now own up to what I do without trying to defend it. My mind seems to have to justify its busy life to me, the observer.

My mind is actually quite a useful tool, as long as it stays on task. While my mind is with me, it serves me well. While its attention is right with me now and focussing on what I am actually doing, that doing comes with a loving imprint that brings an easy connection with me, with my innermost (what is truly me). And when that connection is strong I can see the beauty in what is around me. I can see the beauty in everyone that I interact with.

This awareness that I have now is such a gift of love. It brings me joy and contentment and also allows me to chuckle over my own stupidity when I wander off to rewrite some future interaction I am about to have with someone.

When the time comes to have that conversation, I can be there and bring me totally to the conversation as it unfolds. I can come now without expectation of how it might be. And I surprise myself over and over again, that what I need to say is there when it’s needed, without any rehearsal, and without the waste of thinking about it beforehand.

“What a waste it is to think about things twice!”

246 thoughts on “The Stupidity of Thinking about Things Twice

  1. Thank you Chris for sharing all this – I can relate to what you say about how healing it can be to truly observe our thoughts – to see if they are running off in distractions or worry that serves no real purpose and if so to bring our mind back to the simplicity of being with the task at hand and not over-planning ahead or getting lost in worrying abut something we can’t control.

  2. ‘Oops, there I go again’; what beautiful, gentle self talk to reconnect to our true selves and purpose. Thank you Chris for the timely reminder to not over-think things but to live from the wisdom of our heart and body.

  3. How powerfully and truly we can actually respond to any situation or conversation, when we are present with ourselves and our own bodies…
    I’ve also found it futile to try to plan any conversation ‘ahead’ of time Chris – the whole notion coming from anxiousness and lack of presence in the first place, and then actually robbing the other involved of receiving ‘us’, instead receiving a rehearsed response that is not in the slightest bit authentic.

  4. Over-thinking things, if we are actually able to catch ourselves in the process (as you’ve shared here Chris), can be something we choose to learn from, and learn deeply, can’t it…
    As in, why would we second guess ourselves? Why would we need to run something from the past or the future, over and over and over in our minds, thereby disconnecting ourselves from the present moment? There will always be something underlying here to address – whether through our own exploration and/or with the support of a wise practitioner, it is well worth digging a little deeper and addressing why our mind is being ruled by nervous energy (in the over-thinking) in the first place…

    1. Indeed Victoria, that will be a wise thing to do, to explore why for heaven sake we wonder in our mind while we have a life in the here and now where we have the opportunity over and over again to learn and to evolve. While we are not ‘at home’ so to say, we do miss the wondrousness of this and stay trapped in the old way of living and in fact stay bereft of the many evolutionary steps which are on offer for us all the time.

  5. This is a gorgeous reminder Chris to stay present with our bodies and the joy felt when we make this choice – ‘when that connection is strong I can see the beauty in what is around me. I can see the beauty in everyone that I interact with.’

  6. It is such a blessing to let go of the control of the thinking mind and to become my own master again and having control over my mind instead.

  7. This article is one of simplicity and practicality. It simply explains how practical it is to focus ones mind on where the body is at present. A sharing that we need in our world in our current times, as our mind has definitely taken our bodies for a ride that mostly is one of disregard, emotional blackmail and dis-ease.

  8. Rehearsing our interactions ahead of time, it’s a total waste of time and energy because it’s done out of fear, in protection, or some kind of justification – so it’s not really the full and true us that’s doing the rehearsing, but our emotions. When we stay focused on the present moment and don’t wander off into our heads, we have all the energy and answers we need for any moment, when we’re in it. That’s not to say we don’t ever need to plan ahead – sometimes we do need to make plans, or reflect back on what just happened – but there’s a way of doing it where we stay connected to our bodies and aren’t totally checked out in our minds.

  9. It seems crazy to sit in an armchair and go over in our minds what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, yes initially we have to put a plan in place and cover all bases, but after that second guessing ourselves only causes anxiety. One thing that I used to do a lot, was look at what needed doing within the house, say, sorting something out, and I would imagine doing that task and then not doing it, then imagining again another time, and not doing it. So by the time the task got done in my mind I’d already spent heaps of time thinking about it. Like you have said Chris, a total waste of time, and it is draining.

  10. It is a great observation isn’t it to realise just how much our minds are conjuring up stories and pictures about life most of which is completely in our imagination and may be a far cry from the energetic truth of what it actually occurring. I find the Gentle Breath Meditation really supports me to stay steady so I can spot those stories and also to feel what is really going on in any situation.

  11. The body constantly gets effected by how we think and the thoughts we are allowing to play out. Even sitting in one spot, not moving, we can totally exhaust ourselves by thinking and rethinking about the past or future.

  12. A great sharing Chris. I find myself thinking ahead of myself or about something I may have said days ago and how that may have impacted that person! Seems crazy that we waste so much time on fruitless distractions that are so unimportant in the scheme of things, rather than the here and now!

  13. I really get this – thinking about a conversation I am going to have with someone, or an activity, going over it again and again after it ended – what a waste of time this is. Even without it, often we feel as though time is running out, but really, we are filling up its space with so many things that actually do not belong to the moment, robbing ourselves of the space, running on the nervous energy and anxiety which exhausts us with no end.

  14. ‘The gift of observation’ this really is a gift, not only to give to yourself, but to everyone. Being able to really arrest reactions of people, situations and the world really is a gift. To observe unemotively, to not allow yourself to get involved and then retell the story over and over, which only ever keeps the yuk energy alive and at play.

  15. I agree Chris. Only yesterday I spent a good hour mulling over a presentation I did. Not a good use of my time. Yes I did review what I would do differently next time, and what went well but that part was done in 10 minutes. The rest was me fretting about stuff I no longer had any control over. It was gone. And then of course there is the future that I spend way too much time thinking about. I am learning to stay with what I am doing. Its far less exhausting and I get to enjoy the present moment rather than being somewhere else in my head.

  16. We can think on situations or tasks as much as we like but actually it all comes down to the moment we are in that situation or doing that ask and sure it will be completely different from that what we have thought it to be. This to me makes it very clear that this way of thinking actually brings us nowhere, as it keeps us trapped in thoughts and through that we miss a great part of life as in our thinking we have actually disconnected from the moment we live in, the moment where everything is happening from which we can grow and evolve.

  17. Over thinking can be quite exhausting, and take us completely away from our bodies, this makes much more sense, ‘What I realise now is that I only need to think about a task when I am doing it, rather than multiple times before and after.’ Absolutely, stay with the task in hand.

  18. Bringing ourselves back quickly when we realise we are doing this is so important, otherwise we just go round and round in circles giving power to the what is not, ‘The stupid thing about thinking about things that might happen tomorrow is that it is just a made up story about how things might be. But made up or not, that doesn’t stop my mind from creating a whole drama about it; say a conversation I want to have with someone tomorrow. I can think about what I might say, about how they would reply, and so on until I’ve written a script in my head. And then I go and replay it again in a slightly different way because I can think of another way that it might be.’ People have been sharing with me how they get caught in the above scenario, and I have referred them to the Gentle Breath Meditation, https://www.universalmedicine.com.au/services/free-audio-library/gentle-breath-meditation.

  19. Timely post to read about thinking and delving into things twice – HUGE subject! And wonderful opportunity to comment on . . . I was pondering and you could say it is ‘evil’ to think about something twice – what a dis-honour to leave you and the preciousness in what you are doing to go back or forward in life.
    When the mind is used in conjunction to the depth of what your body knows it is special and a joy to feel in each moment. I love the honesty to bring you back and having that relationship of base to come back to being decent and respectful to your inner-knowing, and others around you, to what it is you naturally know and feel without the ‘thinking’. It is as though thinking about something twice is a corruption of your makeup.

  20. Thank you Chris, I read this earlier this morning and then went out shopping and noticed how often I’m in the future or past in my thoughts. Once I noticed this I adjusted my posture and reconnected to my body and gentle breath. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  21. A timely reminder of what thinking about things twice actually does….nothing. And often it’s not twice, it’s several and it invites complication and uncertainty and going back and forth. An exhausting way to live. It takes a lot of practice to go with the flow, when we are so used to doing the opposite, but I’m willing to break the old habit, and keep practising trusting what I know.

  22. ‘For most of my life I have thought about what I am going to be doing this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, in an exhausting way.’ We waste so much energy on what might be rather than living in the here and now.

  23. True, what a waste of time and energy to think things over and over again. It takes in so much space and when I allow myself this twisting and turning in my head I get easily frustrated and exhausted. The observing way of life you are talking about is definitely making life simple and joyful.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s