Thinking about Thinking

Do you ever consider that you might think too much? I know I do. Whether it’s about an idea for a blog post, a short story, or even what I might be planning to do at the weekend, I have a definite tendency to over-think almost everything. A chance conversation when out walking the dog, can turn into hours of thoughtful speculation about what the other person might be like away from the Meadows, how they live their life, or what they meant by an ambiguous comment.

Even thinking about something as mundane and everyday like shopping lists, and what to buy in for the meals in any given week can turn into an unnecessary think-fest. Are we having the same meals too often? When did I last prepare this, or that? Once in the shop, I am still thinking. Which vegetable should I offer with this meal? Didn’t we have something almost identical last week? Am I in danger of buying and cooking the same things on the same days every week, much as my mother did? Instead of just happily flinging things into my trolley, then worrying about it later, I stick rigidly to my list, even stacking things in the basket in the same order.

When it comes to a social event, or just going out for a meal, the thinking starts to erect a barrier immediately. Will that place be busy on a Saturday? Have we been there too many times previously? Do either of us really fancy that particular style of food? When planning the journey, I start to think about allowing enough time to arrive at a good time for the booking. Not too early, and never too late, in case we lose the table. By the time we actually get there, I might even have been thinking about what I am going to eat, having thought to peruse the menu online, before leaving home. Gone are the days when I would just wander up the street on the off-chance of a free table, unconcerned about the style of the restaurant, or the type of food on offer.

And when it comes to blogging, the thought processes go into overdrive. Too many music posts recently? Are readers bored of the same old dog-walking stories, or am I just bored of writing them? Should I post more photos, even if they have no relevance to the post, because people enjoy them so much? Starting a post, I begin to think if it is worth publishing. Re-reading, editing, and correcting until it no longer really resembles my original intention. Making notes on paper sometimes, often preparing drafts, reading them as previews, and eventually going back to the beginning, because I am thinking that it is not up to standard. I often review this blog, as regular readers will know. I think about when I started, how I continued, and what makes me feel good about being a blogger. The result is that there is generally too much thought, and too little instinct.

When I think about it, (pun intended) I can explain. Being retired, getting older, having more time to think, and less inclination to be impulsive. It all adds up. But whether or not it is a good thing, that’s harder to evaluate. I am left with a constantly whirring mind; too many thoughts, in far too many different compartments. I think that I need to stop thinking so much.


29 thoughts on “Thinking about Thinking

  1. Your reflections gave me a lot of food for thought (and I mean that as a compliment!). As a big fan of Eckhart Tolle, your post reminded me that Tolle once said that one of his greatest accomplishments in life was the ability to suspend thought–at least sometimes–and just be completely in the moment. Keep up the great work! I enjoyed your writing.
    Steve Stahley


  2. I think there is a huge difference between thinking and worrying. For example:

    ‘A chance conversation when out walking the dog, can turn into hours of thoughtful speculation about what the other person might be like away from the Meadows, how they live their life, or what they meant by an ambiguous comment.’

    That’s thinking – or what I would call pondering. Personally, I couldn’t stop this even if I tried. It’s an introvert thing. And it’s one of the reasons I am quite happy in my own company and freak out if I have to spend too much time with other people. My mind needs its thinking time and it needs to do it in a leisurely way, rather than being forced to accept more input when it hasn’t yet finished with the last lot!

    I find being like this has its ups and downs. Being someone who thinks things through often means that I see things other people don’t, which can sometimes be helpful. But when the ability to think things through descends into ‘dog unable to let go of the bone’ mode, it’s perhaps not quite so helpful. This is particularly so if thinking has become worrying or is a symptom of perfectionism.

    If I catch myself stuck in some thought process to the exclusion of all else, I will sometimes make myself do something completely different – something that forces me to think about something else and/or pay attention to the outside world. Going for a ‘walk’ or starting a new art project often works well. However, if I’m really stuck in a thought process, going for a ‘walk’ won’t help because I am quite capable of doing the whole thing without paying proper attention to my surroundings at all! In that situation, doing a bird survey or something works much better because it’s impossible to do that without looking at what’s there! True, I might come back wondering where the buzzards have taken themselves off to this week… and why… but at least I won’t be obsessing over whatever it was that was bugging me before!

    I think the bottom line is that introversion is part of who I am and, as such, it is something to be celebrated. But there is still a place for gently lifting myself out of an unhelpful thought process when necessary. Perhaps the same is true for you – and the only real difference between now and before you retired is that you have more time now to relax into being your natural ‘thoughtful’ self?


    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Ros. (No pun intended, this time.)
      The last paragraph rings true indeed. I have often considered that the ‘real me’ has been released by having spare time, which in turn allows for undisturbed thinking time. Maybe I just need to get used to that, and stop thinking that I’m going mad!
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t see any indication of “brain fog” in your comment, Ros. I just want to support your statement that thinking can take many avenues: pondering, worrying, analyzing, formulating wit or humor, etc. I’ve had people ask me if I’m bored when doing nothing, and my response is always, “Not at all. I’m thinking.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. πŸ™‚ I don’t write when my brain is foggy. That’s why I only managed one blog post during January. There are also a fair few other things I don’t do when my brain is foggy, including bird watching and watching TV/films. Sometimes I can’t even read. Thankfully, this is a state that comes and goes and, so far, February has been considerably better than was January. In fact, I did quite a bit of writing in the first week – a drama script that I’d been unable to do in January when I was asked to do it. I might even get round to another blog post one of these days πŸ˜‰


  3. Ah, I just go with the flow. Thinking far ahead, I sometimes I do it too – thinking of what to cook next, what read next, what recipe to experiment on next… This is a nice post Pete but don’t think too much, I would love to see more photos on your blog.


  4. You are and I are a pair, in this regard. I have a personal saying which helps–9 out of 10 things you worry about don’t come true.
    When I begin to overthink and push the posts and then worry about them, I back off and give myself a few days to a week off from blogging. That helps. I firmly believe fewer posts is better than a daily profundant amount of garbage. less is more and there’s no one who says you have to commit to 3 or 4 or more posts a week.


    1. Very true, Cindy. It’s not thinking so much about the volume of posts, more about the variety and content. I post a fair bit, because I have the time, and enjoy doing it. I just wish that I could stop thinking about it so much…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What I find amusing about my brain, Pete, is that I can have a tune running through my mind repeatedly for an hour or longer and not even take note of what tune it is. When I finally check out the mental background music, which does not interfere with my normal thinking process or execution of physical activity, I’m often surprised by the choice that I suppose my subconscious mind has made.

    In about ten days, I’m going to end my six-month fiction writing hiatus and get back to my two-volume detective novel. I left off somewhere near the end of the first volume’s chapter one (each volume will only have seven chapters, and each chapter will run at least 50 pages). Writing a book requires a lot of mental work, and I’m looking forward to activating some dormant brain cells to facilitate the task. In short, I think I’ve been thinking too little!

    Of course, I’m not totally brain dead. I’ve continued to exercise my brain a wee bit by playing FreeCell and Chess Titans on my computer, and I’ve read countless online news articles. However, I’ve neglected my brain’s image center, so I think I need to delve into a juicy French novel.

    In any event, we’ve been blessed with a brain. Let’s use it. Je pense, donc je suis. And that is reassuring, to say the least.


  6. I rather suspect the more you think and use your brain the less plaque will develop and the sharper you will stay. You will even dither sharply.  So, think away, or at least think about it.


  7. “Starting a post, I begin to think if it is worth publishing. Re-reading, editing, and correcting until it no longer really resembles my original intention”

    Heehee. Be more like me -I have very low standards.




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