At their healthiest, second thoughts are like quality control. It is wise for us to question what preconceptions or mistakes might make our plans impossible before we even start. But like anything in life, a good idea taken too far is a bad idea.
Doing pro and con lists, running things by friends or giving an evening or two to really consider a big decision is reasonable and healthy. That is using our mind as a tool. It is our servant. But today many people are driven to bouts of extreme anxiety from their habit of over-analyzing their decisions. That is making our mind our master.
Anxiety is hard on the body. That’s a lot of cortisol we request when stress over decisions. Half the time the ‘bad’ decisions might end up costing us less than the worrying over which ones are the ‘good’ ones.
Billions of details come to us all day long. There is no way of seeing all of the angles all of the time, that’s like having God-consciousness. That is not something our little minds could even hope to comprehend because even ‘God’ would need the entire universe to do it.
There are simply things we cannot know, and life will include us making choices we may later think to regret. There is nothing wrong with learning from a mistake, but we need not ruminate obsessively on it.
Our egos are like bad bosses. They make demands that exist outside of the bounds of our personal reality, as though that doesn’t matter. The boss –our ego– shoots criticism at us when we feel overwhelmed, and yet the criticism itself is half of what’s overwhelming us.
Doing that is like an ego stirring itself into a frenzy. We’ve must slow that brain-whirl down. That’s most of what I do with students. Their wisdom exists –they just can’t reach it for all the swirling thinking.
Many people are familiar with the scene made famous by the brilliant comedienne Lucille Ball, wherein she attempts to keep up her role as a wrapper at a candy company. As you can see, the hilarity comes from watching her and Vivian being tortured by the fact that the assembly line is just too fast.
Our thoughts are like Lucy’s candies, and our egos are like her boss. If we don’t manage the expectations of our egos we will logically be overwhelmed. That state of mind isn’t a failure, it’s a product of our previous choices. If we try to deal with everything our ego says we will be overwhelmed. It’s the request that’s sick, not us.
As with our thoughts, in life we just need to let some chocolates fly on by. It takes some time before the ‘bossy one’ figures out there’s not much point in sending more, but that doesn’t matter if we know how to watch the others go by and only grab only the ones that nourish our lives.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.