Despite being right brained, I’ve always been analytical. My trade when I was younger even has ‘analyst’ in the title. While analytical thinking can be an important asset in the workplace and is often highly valued by employers, it has its dangers.
Being an introvert as well as being analytical lends me towards overthinking. I want to solve the puzzle, understand why it happened and put in measures to avoid it happening again. With my current state of health being really poor, I may have slipped into overthinking. I’m spending a large amount of time wondering why this happened to me and hasn’t happened to other people. I’m wondering why mothers of four kids who work seem to be still standing. And yet I’m relegated to my bed for large chunks of the day.
Research shows that overthinking actually leads to unhappiness. The intention is to gain personal insight but there comes a point where we head down a pessimistic path of thinking that can even become quite distorted. The first step is to identify that it’s happening, which can be difficult to do as observing oneself is fraught with bias. And once we’ve identified it, we need to redirect our thoughts to the positive. For those with an optimistic tendency, we can use that gift to look for the silver lining.
A tactic I use with my children is distraction. I believe it to be highly effective when a child is overwhelmed by emotion. Once I’ve comforted her and she continues to be overwhelmed, I then make use of distraction. I ask her about something fun that happened at school or something she’s looking forward to. Sometimes I ask a question I know she’ll be interested in, that she probably hasn’t considered. Something like whether our cat likes to chase lizards. Don’t get me wrong, although I’m not a fan of drama, I have no issue with emotional expression. Sometimes they just get overwhelmed in the moment and need to find their way out. If the lizard question didn’t end the bawling, it’s more serious.
I’m going to try this tactic on myself the next time I start wondering if I’ll ever be able to live a normal life again. The silver lining of my health collapse is perhaps something about the revelation that my job was harmful for me and perseverance was not the answer. That’s fine and understood. But I can’t keep thinking that thought over and over. I need to employ the distraction tactic and to be truthful I find writing this blog to be a great help. It’s an opportunity to structure and formulate thoughts on how to adjust my life for the better. It helps me focus on a positive future and distracts me so that I don’t become overwhelmed by despair.