I’ve written about this tendency of mine before—to daydream, to overthink, to create scenarios in my head and then have a difficult time returning to reality. I’m one of those people who’s been journaling since age eight and will disappear from time to time to sit on a beach, climb a tree or ride a bike simply to get away and think.
I am of the overanalyzing persuasion. It’s something I’ve grown to accept about myself, but it’s also something I’m learning to watch about myself. I think it’s important for we over-analyticals to be aware of when it’s time to JUST STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.
Now that I’m a writer by trade and work from home, my job is to think. This is great, and this is dangerous. Since I no longer work in the 8-to-5, fast-paced corporate environment, I have time and space to really flesh out my thoughts. Any problem, obstacle or doubt that’s arisen in the last few months has received extra attention. I’ve thought about it, run through various scenarios a million times. I’ve journaled and talked to myself about it. And now look, here I am analyzing my over-analyzing.
Through all of this, I’ve realized something. My tendency to overthink is really an attempt to control things in my life I can’t control. Think about it. How often to do you overthink circumstances that are beyond your control? For me, it’s the past and the future that I obsess over–as if thinking about them enough will change my past and make certain events occur in my future. It’s ridiculous. It’s a joke. But it’s what I do.
Being introspective is a good gift, but when your thoughts become a desire or attempt to control the person, place or thing you’re thinking about, it’s gone too far. That’s when we are not just thinking, but overthinking.
Something I know to be true but often disregard is that I rarely find peace in trying to control my life through my imagination. In fact, the opposite happens. When I get lost too deep in thought, I come out of it more anxious and confused than I was before I entered it. So nowadays, when my thinking becomes overthinking, I try to focus on what is true. Because that’s what the Bible says to do: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble…whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely…meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
Whatever things are true.
The true things for me right now are simple and basic: God is good. God is faithful. God is sovereign.
Even though I wish I could, I’ve learned I cannot think my life into being better or different than it is, and I cannot think my problems into being fixed. I can, however, force (and it does take an act of force) myself to meditate on what is true. Eventually the truth that God is good overcomes whatever lie or uncertainty had been occupying my brain, and very slowly but very surely, I am more at peace. The fog caused by the anxiety clears, and a path toward hope becomes visible.