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The Problem With Thinking

Becoming totally present allows us to know what feels right as a next step at any given moment.
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Sometimes I feel like the chatter in my head can fill Yankee Stadium. Friends and mentors have tried to help with the Snap Out of It! approach, instructing me in rather loud, startling tones to stop thinking so much. Love the concept, but it's not so easy.

I've always overanalyzed situations growing up. I was a psych major for that very reason. Well, that plus four years of free therapy. Women are famous for over-thinking, obsessing about "Why didn't he call?" or "Should I buy these shoes?" Or "I hate these shoes I bought but all I can think about is why didn't he call!"

Okay, we're deeper and smarter than that. But now we're told our best decisions are NOT made in our heads, and that we simply can't think through our problems. I've actually had one friend tell me to make decisions from my Vahoohoo (her word, not mine!), but that's just bizarre.

Life coach Kristina Leonardi puts it this way: "Our guts and hearts are like hard drives, our minds the software. We need to let our centers do the heavy lifting and lead the way. But like any other muscle, you need to exercise love, intuition and trust in yourself on a regular basis. Then, little by little you grow stronger and more confident in order to let that part of you run the show, instead of your brain."

Just listening to her say that makes me feel better and lighter. So, I recently attended Leonardi's support group for people in career transition. They all had the same issue: ruminating about their next professional move.

Ahem. I've been there before.

Eckhart Tolle says, "Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don't realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it's considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering."

Enough with the chatter, he says. He justifies this advice with smart arguments: Thought is only a tiny aspect of our intelligence. It does not and should not rule the day. "All the things that truly matter -- beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace -- arise from beyond the mind."

Jesus, is he gifted or what? Credit Oprah for this guy. That woman knows how to find 'em.

Leonardi explains that becoming totally present allows us to know what feels right as a next step at any given moment. To get there, she recommends doing the following at least once a week:

  • Do something physical, preferably an activity that requires some concentration and skill, or even simple manual labor.
  • Be creative with your hands: paint, knit, cook or throw pottery.
  • Journal to get the thoughts out of your head and out onto the paper.
  • Play with animals or small children.
  • Disconnect from technology and spend time in nature.

These are all doable ideas, yes? So today, I'm going to sun it up at a friend's pool, not thinking about what I should be doing tomorrow.

Instead, I'll concentrate on my breaststroke ... and lead with my heart.