The false alarm of jangling nerves

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One personality quirk that I’ve been trying to fix is a tendency to overthink things.  I wouldn’t call it catastrophizing — my tendency is to lurk somewhere near the “optimist” end of the optimist/realist/pessimist spectrum — but it’s getting tiresome to stage all those blasted dress rehearsals in my brain.

It’s especially annoying when I’m trying to concentrate on something else.

It’s really, really annoying when there’s nothing whatsoever I can actually do about the things that keep popping into my mind, and all that useless rumination just sits in my muscles as unresolved tension until it’s time to take action.

Today I had a textbook case of The Thinks.  There I was, working on a report at my desk, and even as I typed I was doing a mental walk-through of stuff that had to be done after work — six hours later.  It wasn’t so much like writing a to-do list as writing a list, crumpling it up, and re-writing it, over and over again.  How many times do you have to write “go home, load A into car, drop A off,  come home again, do B for a while, put C in car, drop C off, go for coffee, pick up something for supper”?

Apparently more than once, judging from my experiences this morning.

Compounding this whole silly situation, this mental checklist came with a mental teleportation device that transported me to each of the places on the evening route.  I’m pretty sure by the time lunch rolled around, I had gone to all the places on the list at least half a dozen times.  No wonder my arms are sore; I kept loading the car with the same stuff, over and over again.

When I did get home and had a chance to start on the real list, everything went smoothly.  The right things got delivered to the right places in plenty of time.  The plan was sound and in a logical sequence; moreover, the plan was perfectly adequate the first time and all that extra planning was just a waste of attention and energy.

In my experience, things are rarely as complicated in real life as they are in one’s imagination.  I’m sure the imagination is only trying to be helpful, but more often than not it just gets in the way.  It’s time for a refresher course in mindfulness, so that I can stay with the moment and hush the alarms coming from that over-helpful, over-planning part of my brain.







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