On Over-Thinking

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One of my favorite parts of this interview with photographer Isabelle Wenzel was the realization that, as a young girl, she’d trained to be a professional acrobat. Even more surprising, of course, were the incredible bits of life wisdom she found nestled into her practice. And although she shared some amazing insights, one in particular stood out to me:

Isabelle writes, “What fascinates me about acrobatics is that you start thinking in a different way. You’re not only thinking with your head – your body also remembers things. You can reach a mental state [through acrobatics] that you would never reach if you were just sitting on a chair. Movement is simply another level of thinking. Actually, when you perform super-complicated acrobatic movements, it’s dangerous to think. Usually it’s when you think that it goes wrong.

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And there’s so much truth there, I think.* There’s something to be said about the flow of life – the routine and the mundane and the ease of familiarity – that, sometimes, we over-think. What would life be like if we moved to X? What would have been had I chosen Y? Why did I say Z?

The mind is a powerful tool. And today, I’m learning that, sometimes, it’s OK to put it on the shelf for a bit, hanging between the hammer of schedules and power saw of theory and – instead – move around a bit, pressing forward to another day.

Image Credits: Isabelle Wenzel

*There I go thinking again, ha!

  • I over-think ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t help that I tend to be introverted and thus spend more quality time with my thoughts than some :) I’ve found the same quiet wisdom in yoga, too. Thank God for movement.

  • Oh, so interesting. As a chronic over-thinker, I appreciate this post so much. I think motherhood has actually helped me to not over think, surprisingly.

    • I’m so with you there! Perhaps b/c there’s no time (or quiet!) to really hear your thoughts? ;)

  • Ow, yes, this is right on again. Personally, I don’t have it that bad, but my husband, ow, he definitely thinks too much.

  • Ack, diehard overthinker here! Too many times I start to think about A, then B, then jump right to what might happen at W and no, I don’t want that so I never get past A… My best creative moments have always been when the thinking got out of the way.

    • SOOOOO true. I always have to stop my mind from spiraling and going worst case scenario all over the place. ;)

  • I totally agree. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the past and the future, and it really keeps me from enjoying the present moment. Even being effective in the present. I get so lost tripping from past to future, that I forget about how great life is now. Love this post, E!

  • Yes, but…
    I think the not-thinking thing is true of complicated acrobatics only because being able to do them at all is the result of hours and hours of thought and practice. I write this, I suppose, as one who drifted through much of my young adult life–over-thinking things that didn’t matter and under-thinking many that did. Perhaps it’s not so much an either/or thing as an when/what thing? And the trick is to know what to turn our obsessive attention to and what to let go by?

    • Oh Rita – you are SUCH a thinker. So true in so many ways. It’s definitely a what thing, isn’t it? B/c it could also be argued that we underthink the most important things: goals, relationships, “big picture”, etc. Or maybe that’s just me. ;)

  • it helps to know i am not the only one who struggles with the what ifs. my amazingly intuitive and kind sister sent me a card that arrived today that said: “you are where you should be and you are doing what you should be doing.” something i will try to remember when the what could have been or what if i had done this that or the other try to hijack my thoughts…

    thank you (as always) for this wonderfully thoughtful (thinking in a good way :) post!

    • Ah, you are so sweet, Karen – and man, we all need a sister like that, don’t we? What a blessing!

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