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Psychology | Striking a balance


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Do you think too much?

Do you ever leave the house and then wonder if you’ve turned everything off and locked the doors? I know that I automatically turn things off and I lock the door, but occasionally get distracted. Did I forget to lock the door, because my neighbour called to me?

It is easy to get obsessed with checking that we have done things, especially if that one time we seem to forget something. When I go out it’s like a ritual, check I have my phone, that I’m dressed suitably for where I’m going, get a bag if I’m going shopping, maybe check I have money. Then I leave the house and lock up! Most of these things are so habitual, we do them without thinking about it. It’s the same with driving, it’s habitual and we don’t think too much about it. Have you ever wondered if the traffic lights that you just went through were really on green and not on red? We learn things until we can do them without much thought. Driving is a good example, we make complicated decisions, while operating all those controls at the same time.

Things are difficult unless we have had enough practice that we can do them without thinking too much about it. I am thinking about what I’m writing not about how to use a computer, that comes automatically; I’ve done it so many times before.

Sometimes things go wrong and that undermines our confidence in our ability to do things without thinking too much. It could be a near miss in the car that undermines us as a driver and makes us jump at every little incident.

Most people just drive their car without thinking about the journey too much. If the journey is unusual in some way, perhaps driving on the motorway instead of the usual roads, then we think more and we become anxious about it. We can think too much about it and become anxious; we have to strike a balance and have confidence in our ability to handle whatever happens during the journey.

Life itself is a journey and our confidence can take a knock, so much so that it’s hard to even leave the house. That phobia is usually called agoraphobia and it’s a serious illness because it severely restricts life style.  Sometimes, agoraphobics can leave their homes, but only go so far and they have to stick to familiar places. If something, even something trivial goes wrong and our confidence is undermined, it can have devastating consequences. Minor incidents can have serious implications. Even something that embarrasses us can make us want to take drastic action to avoid that situation again. Even potential problems can have life changing consequences. I have known people panic just because they imagined something might go wrong and then they have feared going out of their own homes, to avoid panicking again.

When we feel anxious people often tell us to ‘keep busy’ and that can help. We certainly think too much when we’re bored. That is why people complain of boredom. It is a myth that people like being lazy, people like being busy; they like doing stuff where they can do it automatically. They tend to like driving, it’s skilled, but they can do it without much thought. That really difficult computer game is enjoyable because they are expert at it; they can do it with their eyes closed almost. Even cleaning the house is something that people can be good at, but that’s done without much thought and is ‘automatic’.

It’s not enough to do things automatically to stop ourselves thinking too much. We have to do something that we are really good at, then we enjoy it. We not only have to be good at what we do, but our accomplishments need recognition by others.

Being really good at something like being ace at a computer game, being able to grow the biggest marrow, being able to run the fastest and win medals, being able to do anything that gets you recognition is good for your mental health. It stops you thinking, it stops you worrying, it stops you getting depressed and it stops you getting anxious and obsessive.

Do you have something that you’re really good at? Something you can do all day and never get bored with it? Please comment and share your thoughts.

If you’re not really good at something why not start learning something today?

5 responses

  1. I used to have really bad problems of being out in public,or even around family ; things like meditation, tai chi,surfing,martial arts,hiking, eating natural, and skating have helped me overcome all these internal battles :))

    12, November 2012 at 12:48 pm

    • I think all those things can help, especially if you become good at them. You are keeping quite busy and have little time to become anxious about things. Your confidence grows too with success.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      12, November 2012 at 3:20 pm

  2. I only go out to places that I am used to. It scares me to death to have to learn another route. I also think way too much. I really don’t have a past time that I feel all that skilled at. But I love blogging. I love thinking and writing lol. That is really my only truly fun past time. Great post! 😉

    13, November 2012 at 4:43 pm

    • Hi Carla,

      I try not to think too much when I’m blogging! Try driving just a little farther than you usually go, it gets easier then. Insecurity is a common problem, it’s part of modern living.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      13, November 2012 at 11:41 pm

  3. Pingback: The Saturday review | SAD « Mike10613's Blog

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