"When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul." Psalm 94:19. Overthinking is thinking that is out of control or at the very least uncontrolled. On initial thought, you may think that many people need to think, period. Okay that sounds a little facetious or even sarcastic. Seriously though, we can think ourselves out of making progress in our lives, including in relationships. Personally, overthinking is a way to talk myself out of something without actually saying that I am quitting. There are times when I participate in the fruitless game of "What if?" It usually involves me thinking about all the reasons why the project I am working on could go wrong; worse case scenario. While I am thinking, no process is being made because nothing is getting done. I am being transparent. So, please don't judge. And even if you do, I will be alright because I know that I am not alone.
"The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken." Warren Buffet. You do not have to watch out for dream killers. By overthinking, you invite fretting and procrastination which will lead to the end of your dreams if there is no active intervention to the contrary. That is because the process is so insidious that you can find yourself stuck in a rut in your way of thinking a long time before you realize that you keep coming back to the same thought patterns and you have not made any advancement towards your goals and/or even new ideas. Sometimes we can reason ourselves out of things that are beneficial because we got rooted and grounded in our thoughts and failed to take action. We lose our ability to focus. "Focus, the only superpower you really need." Graham Weaver.
Merriam Webster defines "overthinking" as: "To think too much about something, or to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing something, in a way that is more harmful than helpful." This habit can prevent you from taking action. It consumes your energy, disables your ability to make decisions, and puts you on a loop of thinking and thinking over and over again." In essence, you become stuck in your head. The real world and life are in abeyance. Life does not wait for any of us to get busy living.
According to GoodRx Health, "Overthinking is when you dwell or worry about the same thought repeatedly. People who overthink can be paralyzed by their worries and may struggle to make decisions or take action. And, overthinking can be caused by -- and can contribute to -- depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Our minds are constantly going. We bombard our thoughts with what has happened, or what could happen. We compare ourselves to others, and in our minds we often come up short. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. Because we all fall short, it is a waste of time comparing ourselves to others. Do your best. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21. This scripture is talking about Jesus. He is perfect. You and I are not perfect. Trying to be perfect only causes anxiety. This is not to say that you should not strive to be the best you can be and honest in all your dealings, but preoccupation with perfection can take us down a path that leads to no productivity.
Precious time is also wasted looking back and imagining, "if only." I have to admit that I have worn the "if only" lenses a few times in my life. I think about a few really good real estate deals that would have been very profitable for me now "if only" I had taken advantage of them back then. I have thought about a few other things that I missed out on. I fall prey to the "best case scenario." In this state, everything was there for the taking. I recover quickly because I realize that I cannot do anything about the past. Also, I force myself to remind myself that there were extenuating circumstances that prevented me from taking the action in the past that my mind in the present is telling me was so easy. I realize that I am rewriting history and leaving out the facts. The same is true with the pastime of "What if?" Our minds can be taken captive with what might happen. As I stated previously, I have been guilty of "if only" thinking and I confess to "what if" thinking too. Murphy's law has certainly been present in some of my thinking. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, at the worst possible time." What if no one buys my books? What if the plot is too weak? What if the characters are too flat? What if there is no population that is interested in what I write? And on and on. This is paralyzing and leads to a lack of movement in any direction. My project lies dormant while this circular thinking is taking place.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7. This lets us know that there is no condition that God is not aware of, and He has made provisions for us to overcome. To break a cycle that is not helpful, we have to go to the source. God is the ultimate source.
When Jesus' disciples were about to again overthink His mission, He provided them with assurance. (Initially, they thought He came as a political Messiah to deliver their people from their enemies through perhaps a violent overthrow; military might). Now, they see the situation was not playing out that way, and Jesus was telling them that He was about to leave. He also told them where He was going. Jesus knew there was a season of uncertainty coming and the disciples would be perplexed. This would make even you and me think about this. He came to save the world and now He was about to be killed. Wow, that's a lot to digest. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33. At some point they began to understand that Jesus came expressly to die for our sins so that we could be reconciled back to the father. So that we could have eternal life through Christ Jesus. The life that God calls us to is wonderful because Jesus has overcome the world. He is willing to take all our fears and anxieties upon Himself. "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7. We need only to put our trust in Him. Why are we making ourselves so crazy? STOP!!!
The disciples did not need to overthink what Jesus was saying. He told them that their peace was in Him no matter what might happen in the world. This is where we need to be. ARE YOU THERE YET? It is not easy to break the cycle of overthinking, but there is one who can help you. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5.
Before you go away thinking that you need to stop thinking, be assured that great thinkers have forged much progress in the world and we would not be where we are in many areas were it not for great minds. I am talking about when thinking is putting your life at risk. Okay, I do not want to be overly dramatic. It may be putting the quality of your life at risk. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." If you spend all of your time thinking, you will accomplish nothing. You must attach action to your thinking. It is my hope that you and I understand and accept that nothing happens when all we do is think. When getting at the root of an issue, we need to start at the beginning and go from there. GET BACK TO BASICS!
1. Stop overthinking the past, the present and the future. The past is gone. There is no way to change it. Find a way to let go of regrets and resentments. They will only serve as obstacles to moving forward with your life. Learn what you need to from the past. Forgive yourself and others and then let go and move on. Do not allow anyone to take you back. Let them know that the past is ancient history and you have moved on. Next!! In the present, do your best and keep going. As far as the future is concerned, doing your best in the present will impact success in the future. Guard your mind and your heart, and please do not forget to take care of your physical health and mental health. Get professional help if and when you need it.
2. "You have power over your mind--not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength." Marcus Aurelius. Believe it or not, you have the ability to redirect your thoughts. When you find yourself obsessing on one thing to the exclusion of everything else, stop and get engaged in something else for a little while: go for a walk, read something enlightening or encouraging, call a friend, pray, meditate, get back to the project you left undone, etc. There will be things that you have no control over. Face them head on and use all resources available to get through them. Focus on what outcomes you can control.
3. Find a community of people who are engaged in the type of activity that you enjoy. For example, if you are a writer, search for an online group of writers.(Start one if you have to). If you are a senior, perhaps there is a senior center near you that have activities that you might enjoy. You can even enroll in a course of interest that will provide a source of pleasure as well as giving you the opportunity to broaden your mind while keeping you busy. Idle time can lead to overthinking. In this way, by getting involved you are taking action to alleviate the pattern of overthinking by doing something meaningful.
4. Journal your thoughts. Trust me, when you start writing down what you are thinking, you will begin to streamline your thoughts. Journaling forces you to focus. It makes you want to make sense of what you are writing and thinking. Try it. You will see what I mean. It also allows you to reflect on what you are writing and the need to make it make sense. Almost by instinct when journaling, you begin to focus. And, this is what you need. "Where focus goes, energy flows." Tony Robbins.
5. Stop ruminating and start resolving. Be mindful of what is going on with you. Take notice when you find yourself spending days, months, years thinking about something that you say you want to finish. Ask yourself why you have not reached the stage of completion. If the answer is you have spent all your time thinking about it, then stop that and get busy "resolving." Finish your project and think about how wonderful it was to complete after you have completed it.
Remember, you cannot control everything, just let it be. Don't ruin a new day by thinking about yesterday. Relax, breathe. Show up in life where you are supposed to and bring your best self always. Get in touch with nature, learn to love; show it and give it. You are already a success. Don't overthink it. Live it out! God be with you!
Thank you for your continued support. I am grateful and greatly appreciative.
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TRIBUTE TO MY BELOVED FRIEND, MARTHA ANN FORTSON
On October 7, 2022, I traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to attend the Homegoing Services for my friend of almost sixty (60) years. Martha departed this life on September 28, 2022, and is now in that land of perfect day. Her suffering is now over, and she is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While I am going to miss her presence, our conversations, and our sharing stories and pictures of our grandchildren, I rejoice in knowing that she is at peace, rejoicing somewhere around God's throne. I know this because we bonded around having "old school," God-fearing grandmothers who prayed for us, taught us about Jesus and what it meant to put our trust and faith in Him. We accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, and so we both have said and I can now say with conviction: "Absent from the body means to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8
Martha brought a ray of sunshine into my life. A light which will shine bright forever. I will never forget the delicious food she would prepare after we had hung out all night and I stayed at her house. (This was a long time ago). She could not sleep on an empty stomach. I would eat the food later in the morning because I could not sleep on a full stomach. I can almost still hear the laughter as we would play Martha's great collection of "45" records (some of you know what I am talking about), and we would go down memory lane recalling how we danced to those tunes into the wee hours of the morning. We had so much fun. We were always there for each other, and we encouraged each other in Christ whenever we were going through something or had experienced the loss of a loved one, a dark time, or even aggravation on the job (we both worked for the Dept. of Education). She was a bridesmaid at my wedding more than forty years ago.
In closing, Martha was funny, serious, and determined. She loved God with her whole being. She always "dressed for success and her hair was always on "fleek, even when we were teenagers." I am so grateful that God allowed our lives to intercept and that we got to spend so many wonderful years as true friends. She knew me "when." (You can figure out what that means). Thank you dear God for the life of my friend Martha.
TO MY BELOVED FRIEND MARTHA, MY SISTER-IN-CHRIST: THANK YOU FOR YOUR LONG AND LOVING FRIENDSHIP OVER THE MANY YEARS. MY LIFE IS RICHER AS A RESULT OF YOUR HAVING BEEN A PART OF MY LIFE. FAREWELL MY BELOVED FRIEND, UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN. LOVE, YOUR BFF
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