Do you ever over-think things? Do you get caught up in mental cycles of negativity or fear that keep you from living fully? Does your mind race like a hamster wheel-and you just wish you could step off?
Did it ever occur to you that you might be addicted to thinking? If so you're not alone. It's estimated that the average person has between 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day.
Yet, how many of those thoughts are helpful? How many do you really need? How many are even true?
Though most people are unaware of it, addiction to thinking is the number one addiction affecting us humans today. And, it just may be the driving force behind all of our other addictions.
Here are the symptoms you may or may not have associated with over-thinking:
• Constant worrying about what you did in the past or what might happen in the future
• An incessant voice in your head that comments on everything
• Feeling judged and habitually judging others
• Keeping the radio or TV on as a constant background
• Constantly checking your Facebook, Twitter, texts, and email
• Needing to keep your mind busy
• Discomfort with silence, stillness, and inactivity
• Discomfort with feelings and body sensations
• Feeling there's always too much to do & never enough time
• Trouble sleeping, meditating, or relaxing deeply
• Feeling a constant subtle stress that never lets up
So, what's behind addiction to thinking? Why is it there?
What drives it? If we knew what that was, maybe we could put a stop to it and the stress it causes!
There is a two-pronged false belief that traps us in our thoughts:
1) We believe that "our thoughts represent reality," and,
2) We believe that "we are our thoughts."
Without us being aware of it, these two false beliefs make us slaves to the mental fabrications we call thoughts.
Yes, that's right. Our problems begin when we mistakenly believe that our thoughts represent reality.
If that were the case, of course, thinking would be as important as it seems. It would be how we know what is real and possible in our lives.
Yet, thinking does not, in fact, represent reality. Instead, thinking interprets, categorizes, and organizes reality. Thinking is not about representing Reality at all, it is about analyzing reality and organizing it for action.
Thinking makes reality into a "To Do List."
You can recognize this, if you stop and notice what you're thinking at any given moment-and then ask yourself, what is the purpose of that thought? What are the consequences of thinking that way? What type of action does it compel or inspire?
Without understanding what thinking really is and what it does, you can unwittingly get caught up in over-thinking. And, excessive thinking leads to excessive doing which leads to excessive stress.
We become that hamster on the wheel of thought, spinning around until we are exhausted.
Then, we compound matters by thinking that we "are" the thoughts that we "have." We identify ourselves with that incessant voice in our heads. How crazy is that? Are you really that voice that spews 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts every day?
How could you possibly be defined by all of those varied thoughts? You would have to be a severely multiple personality. Is that really who you are? Are you really just that voice in your head, who thinks one thing one moment and a completely different thing the next-all day long?
When we begin to investigate what thinking really is and how it's different from who we really are, we are able to step back and get a little space from our thoughts. We begin to experience a little freedom from all that thinking.
When we understand the real role of thinking, it empowers us to let go of thoughts that do not serve us or others, choose those that do, and spend more time being present with, paying attention to, appreciating, and enjoying, Reality Itself. We step off the hamster wheel, take a deep breath, and take in what is really happening inside and around us.
This opens the door for us to see more clearly, listen and feel more deeply, and appreciate the peace and joy of enjoying life as it is-without all the commentary.