COLUMN: When thinking gets in the way

Overthinking: Thinking, whether too much, or too little, can affect us in different ways.

Overthinking: Thinking, whether too much, or too little, can affect us in different ways.

COMMENT

If I think too much when joining a lane of traffic on the freeway, I will be stuck to the side for some time unable to merge.

I need to be observant and exercise care and precise judgement, but not allow woolly will I won't I thoughts.

If I play the piano and let the music flow, I can make a reasonable fist of the piece after lots of practice.

But when thoughts flood in as I get to the tricky bits, I lose my place and the rhythm and melody vanish.

Sometimes I think, wow I can do this, and the music stops, my playing hijacked by that peripheral thought and loss of concentration on the task.

Guests are coming to dinner.

I know I can cook a decent meal but when I dither about what to have, the quantity to buy, energy evaporates in useless pondering.

A pleasant endeavor becomes a challenging performance.

While listening to someone else speaking, do you like me, occasionally get side-tracked by thinking about what you want to add to the conversation?

Yet being present for that person and listening without distraction is a gift to give others.

Negative night thoughts multiply in the dark, and brooding on a gloomy day or in isolation just increases their complexity and stressfulness.

Sharing some of these wild thoughts, however, I switch more into an analytical observer, and begin to think with more clarity.

Being present in the moment and concentrating on something practical also helps rein in rampant thoughts.

Many problems are solved by the unconscious while I am revelling in a hot shower, or after an intense bout pulling soursobs.

Answers often come out logically, perspective returns when not over thinking.

In the warm sunny daylight, I think that's right.

Lorraine McLoughlin is a regular columnist for The Times, a passionate writer and a lover of the Fleurieu region.