I’ve been thinking about thinking…

I feel when it comes to thinking, it’s sort of a three little bears experiment. We have Papa Over Thinking, and Mama Under Thinking and baby bear just right thinking. But like Goldilocks…how do we know when we’ve reached the level of thinking that is JUST RIGHT

Let’s start out with a premise that thinking is good. When you are about to do just about anything, the universal thought is probably that you should think about what you are doing. You shouldn’t cross the street without looking, you shouldn’t invest your money in shares of a bridge with a person that you met at the dollar store, you shouldn’t just pick some greenery from the forest and ingest it. You should at least glance at at least one possible consequence. So thinking = good

But let’s look at how thinking affects us by looking at the crossing the street example. If you decide not to look both ways, if you choose to not pay attention to your surroundings, if you decide to text while you walk, maybe you are thinking, but you are not necessarily thinking about the task at hand. If you don’t at least think about the possibility that cars could hit you, you are not thinking effectively. At some point you need to think about danger.

Now, if you are standing at the corner and think about the velocity of the cars, look to see if any car is faster or slower, if they seem to be swerving, if there are too many pedestrians, if the road is in good repair, etc there is a possibility that you will not get across the street. Ever. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of the pitfalls that lie ahead, but you also have to learn to assess what could most likely happen from what will probably happen. Actually hearing the revving engine or a siren are actual signs that should heighten your senses. A truck three blocks away probably doesn’t matter in the ten seconds it takes to cross the street.

It’s very east to go from thinking to over thinking.

But what about under thinking? Do you just cross the street without looking? Do you hear the sirens but don’t stop to ascertain how close they are or from what direction they hail? Do you not look to see the pothole and try to avoid it?

But how do you know when crossing the street what the correct amount of thinking is? How does your brain make the connection from not to under to regular to over?

I guess part of the answer lies in distraction- how distracted are you when you are doing something. Thinking means that you have to be paying attention to something. Can you think when you are distracted? Yes, no and maybe. Sure, we say that we can multitask, but if nothing is getting 100% of our attention, are we really giving any of the things we are thinking about their proper due? When you are crossing the street, what percentage of your brain are you actually giving to it? Are you also thinking about work, family, where your life is going? Are you listening to music or a book? Are you holding the hand of a toddler or walking a dog? Are you texting? Haven’t we all seen at least one video of someone walking while texting who has fallen into a hole or fountain? Of course, we might call that “Not thinking”…

Next we have the risk thing. How much of a risk taker are you. I’m going to take a stance and say that over thinkers are less risk averse. I think over thinkers try to weigh out every single possibility that comes down the pike, so much so that they end up in a state of inertia. Instead of doing something they end up doing nothing. They become so bogged down in the thinking that they can’t move ahead. They are paralyzed with fear of taking a risk.

Impulsiveness, on the other hand, could be a sign of under thinking. Someone who decides spur of the moment, to take a leap, has probably not thought about the pros and cons of the situation at hand. They saw an opportunity and seized it. Depending on the situation, impulsiveness can be good or bad. Deciding on a whim to get on a train with a person you just met can have a delightful outcome. Deciding that jumping on top of that train might not work out so well for you. But yes- in both these cases, you should at least think a little bit about the consequences.

Personally, I think I can fall into any of the thinking categories. I don’t think, I under think, I think and I overthink. It all depends on what I’m doing. I have regretted things that I have done, and I have regretted things that I haven’t done. I have never overthought myself into paralysis though. I am actually a confident decision maker- I think, make pros and cons and decide. It’s neither good nor bad- it’s just me.

Food For Thought

  1. Do you consider yourself an over or under thinker
  2. Do you think it’s better/worse to be an over thinker (or under thinker)
  3. How much thought do you put into something before you move forward
  4. Have you ever been too scared to make a decision?
  5. Have you ever acted impulsively- what happened?
  6. Are you a risk taker
  7. What is your “just right” level of thought
  8. Anything at all that came to mind as you read my post

80 thoughts on “Think it Over…or Under

    1. Right out of my mouth. Seriously. I sometimes make a decision on a good old coin toss . Then I make a decision based on what the coin toss outcome is. Then I start thinking that I wanted what was on the other side of the coin and that is why I’m second questioning it. Glad to hear I’m not the only one when it comes to decision and thinking.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I admit, when I’m hashing something out…like posts…I like the over thought. In day to day…not so much

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      2. Well, I’m getting ready to hang wallpaper in a small, bedroom alcove today..the mural kind..a scene of palm tress in a row. Talk about overthinking – it took me forever to take this leap..and there’s no returning hung wallpaper that’s for sure. 😬

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Got it done..will post the pics one day soon. That self stick wallpaper was a bit of a nightmare..more difficult than hanging regular wallpaper for sure. Thank goodness if was just a small area.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Personal issues and decisions I over think, must cover every angle and then add in all the unseen or unexpected outcomes. Definitely can lead to inaction. That aspect is still a work in progress. Work, on the other hand has limited choices so the thinking is 90% accomplished for me. There’s always a bigger picture to ponder briefly, but after this long the answers are all too familiar. With that said, I suppose thinking is situational for me.

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    1. Personally, I think we should be situational in our thinking. My sister could spend an hour on reading a menu, yet decide to do something risky on a whim…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Because now I’m thinking if it, how many times have I gone against my intuition vs gone with and which one gets the most points? My intuition is usually always right. But there are so many more times that I knew but didn’t follow that intuitive power that I think were all have. Just a matter of believing in it I guess

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  2. Have you ever done the thing where you’ve got all the way home from somewhere some distance away, while thinking about something else – and you only realise when you get there that you were kind of on autopilot all the way? I know I’ve done it.

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  3. I’m a planner for the most part but as I’ve aged, I’ve tried to let go of the over thinking and just trust in the flow of life, but that doesn’t always work. I’m a work in progress (obviously) but I’m getting better. I can have fits of overthinking especially when a crisis comes up, but then I settle out in a day or two so that’s helped. I don’t like drama so I try to stay on an even keel.

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    1. I know you didn’t ask, but my notes for today were “is overthinking bad” which lead me to what is overthinking…to….what is the opposite…and then we get the post…FYI…as I was typing, all I thought was…why don’t I do more posts about thinking…

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  4. There have been times when I have put myself in a “paralysis by analysis” condition. Thinking about all the possible outcomes, risks, pros and cons can contribute to indecision just as much as not thinking about these things at all. For me, common sense and awareness come into play….that and a wicked sense of compartmentalization. 🧐

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  5. I’ll tell you if I need to figure out how do something at my job involving software, I can’t listen to music. If I am on the other hand just doing Quality Assurance music or podcasts become background. I don’t know how people listen to music while figuring things out, like I can also draw or paint to music but I can’t write to it.

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  6. I was hit by a pickup truck going 40 miles an hour when I was 19. I dented the hood, broke the windshield and was tossed 30 feet beyond the truck. I laid in the street in the dark inches from cars, bleeding with broken bones. I now rarely cross streets and overthink every possibility. As for thinking about things besides street crossings, I tend to weigh all the outcomes and am risk adverse. Much more so than when I was a teenager.

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    1. I’ve always been risk averse, but totally admit that I’ve gotten more risk averse as I’ve gotten older. And I completely understand that once something has happened, you become more wary. I’m sorry you experienced that. It’s awful

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      1. It was awful. And I forgot to mention that I was running across the street with one of my best friends and I grabbed her parka as I froze before getting hit. She got hit too, thanks to me!

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  7. My overthinking tends to go with difficult relationships, like overthinking conversations I should have or where they went wrong. As far as taking action, I tend to just do it. When things don’t work out, I just try again.

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  8. I’m all three. I totally over think fashion. Sometimes I cannot decide what to buy or wear and then buy two options because I have reasons why everything might work in each case. It takes forever to narrow my choices down to two! I overthink important grants or projects I had to hand in for a deadline. However, that always worked for me since I received a lot of money over the years for my classroom or my school on grants I wrote. But I am very impulsive on many things as well. I’m not a risk taker in like I’d never sky dive, but at a workshop or gathering/meeting, I’d be the first one to raise my hand and try something new. I have no fear of failure if I’m in a class setting, a lecture hall, or learning something new.
    Mostly I think about every day stuff, view My options and pros and cons and move forward . I did that with cancer. It only took me less than five seconds. I asked my options and made a decision easily and then plunged forward to get moving on healing. I told my Doc, “Let’s get this party started! “
    But if you ask me to pick a color to repaint my kitchen it’ll take forever and I’ll have paint swatches everywhere. I so overthink decorating! It just depends…
    BTW, I like to be around semi risk takers. Not sky divers of course, but some one who will run barefoot in the rain on a crowded street on a whim is simply delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would totally run down the street barefoot in the rain…that’s a risk I can do. Sky diving?!?! Never!! I’m perfectly happy in the plane!! Cindy said the same thing about decorating!! So good to see you again!!

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      1. Thank you. I have gone looking for your blog and couldn’t get it. It was crazy. Today out of the blue I tried again and it let me post. Can’t figure out what’s with WP plus my condo got a new internet and streaming provider that isn’t fabulous. Bluestream fiber isn’t all it’s cracked up to me. Oh well. Hopefully I’ll get more of your blogs in the future.

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  9. I couldn’t believe how much you could write about thinking. I don’t think about thinking, I just do it. I’m fairly cautious, so impulsiveness is not my nature. That must mean I think more than I think I do.

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  10. A fun one, LA. I think there is a distinction between a choice and a decision, which you hit on a little in your post. A choice you feel, you just know the next action without thinking about it; whereas a decision requires balancing the data, then making a decision. Most of my thinking occurs in relation to analysis and decision-making, and the rest lives in the feeling I get about a situation, which, of course, uses intuition and lives in the realm of choice. I would even say that there are more choices to make than decisions, at least for me.

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  11. This is very Aristotelian, what you continually think about, informs your character, which informs your behavior, and that is your legacy. He thought our purpose as humans was to be happy and that depended on how well you stayed in the middle – not excessive – not deprived. I believe writers do a lot of thinking and recording of thought could be considered a disease? Love the post LA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I do think writers tend to “think” a bit….I mean…to write, aren’t we talking about things that we’ve thought?if you never think, how could you write?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this post. Your thought processes are similar to mine – it’s almost like I’m an expert rabbit hole builder – and then fall down the rabbit hole I just dug, and continue digging to see where it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Do you consider yourself an over or under thinker: OVER!
    Do you think it’s better/worse to be an over thinker (or under thinker): Neither. Each one has its consequences.
    How much thought do you put into something before you move forward: It depends on the task, kind of like you’ve mentioned here, but overall, I don’t put a lot of thought into doing things.
    Have you ever been too scared to make a decision? Yes, usually when it comes to relationships with people.
    Have you ever acted impulsively- what happened? I pretty much act impulsively like 85% of the time. Typically, it turns out fine, and if it doesn’t, I impulsively do something else.
    Are you a risk taker: I think so.
    What is your “just right” level of thought: It depends. With relationships, I overthink myself into a problem that may/may not be there. I haven’t figured out what’s just right for those situations.
    Anything at all that came to mind as you read my post: Yes. This seems to be a little over thought lol

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