And now for the opposing life slug from last week’s challenge of Rumination aka Thinking Too Much. There is an old quote in various forms and accredited to lots of different people that says something like ‘Vision without Action is just a Dream’. Many of us know what it feels like to get caught in that cycle of endless mental chewing where the amount of time spent thinking about something becomes quite disproportionate to the amount of time spent doing anything about it.
Sometimes that it just a sense of getting stuck on a problem. Sometimes it is about regrets from what has already happened and how to deal with the impact of it. Sometimes it is more an anxiety about what might happen and what we might need to do to stop it or deal with it.
Why is it a life slug? Well, there is plenty of research to suggest that ruminating is not only a poor problem-solving approach but also not great for your mental or emotional health. And because it removes you from the kind of experiential trial and error approach which is one of the building blocks of how humans learn and grow. If the problem – and multiple solutions – only exist in your head, you are depriving yourself of two really important bits of information; what happens in real life and what other people think. Thinking too much creates a single feedback loop which is only serviced by whatever is already in your head and experience toolkit.
So, if last week I said essentially that not thinking is bad and now I’m saying thinking too much is equally bad, how do you know the difference? Well, you probably have your own gut instinct on times when you’ve thought wisely vs times when you’ve become stuck in a loop. For me, I tend to know I’m ruminating if it feels like Groundhog Day – same words, same solutions and a growing sense of feeling disheartened. When I am thinking well – and as a coach I see this in others too – I know because I surprise myself with a new perspective, I feel more energised and the previously complicated becomes simpler to explain to other people with a lot less words and jargon. And to myself too!
What about you?