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camouflage_pants's avatar

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your own thoughts?

Asked by camouflage_pants (413points) December 22nd, 2009

My brain has a tendency to over analyze things, and while some people might call it chronic worrying, there is more to it than that. It isn’t worry, per se, it is more like ‘what if’ scenarios played out to the extreme. They don’t always follow a negative trail, so you couldn’t really call it worrying. As it goes on, these thought processes soon lead to what I call ‘brain thunderstorms’, in which my mind latches onto a subject, and then like a chain of lightning zig-zagging across the sky, my mind jumps from thought to thought, and at first the ideas and/or subjects will seem unrelated, but soon a pattern emerges and all that jumping leads my mind to an answer to a question I didn’t know I was asking. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the best way I can describe it. Have you ever dealt with this? Some might consider it a mental health issue, but I find that is is more helpful than harmful. What do you think?

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24 Answers

Silhouette's avatar

It’s your process and it’s working for you. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


I used to have that, and still do on occasion. My mind gets stuck on something——could be anything, a problem, a bad day at work, a passing thought, etc. One day, I came across Dr. Claire Weekes book “Hope and Help For Your Nerves”, and it was a lifesaver. In it, she talks about letting your thoughts have their way, don’t fight them, because as soon as you try to repress or fight them, they get worse. Just let your thoughts come in, and let them pass. Accept them. Now I do that, my thoughts don’t bother me as much anymore. I also try to get as much rest for my brain as possible, because according to Dr. Weekes, the more tired the brain is, the more vulnerable it is to such obsessive thoughts. ;)

krisco's avatar

I fully understand your state of mind, you need to learn how to use your mind instead of letting your mind be in control. Its actually very easy once you learn how, checkout Ekhart Tolle and the book The Power of Now. It will change your life and how you use your mind.

Pandora's avatar

Unfortunately yes. Especially if I’m having a hard time sleeping. Then all sort of stupid things come to mind. Stuff that wouldn’t really matter to anyone else. I can create a whole story over why I should chose one outfit over another for work the next day. And what would happen if I chose the wrong one. LOL

Freedom_Issues's avatar

Yes I have. And seriously could have made thinking a full time job. It was too much for me, it made me emotionally unstable and indecisive. But if it works for you, hey.

augustlan's avatar

All. The. Damn. Time. My brain is never quiet. I’m fairly used to it by now, but have nearly been driven to the brink of insanity a time or two because of the way my brain works.

Supacase's avatar

Yes, and I hate it. I have learned, whenever it is a real situation that involves another person, to just ask the other person what is going on. Any answer is better than wondering and the truth is always better than whatever disaster I’ve managed to come up with in my mind.

When there is no one to ask and I’m just imagining stuff for the sake of doing it, I seriously drive myself crazy. I cannot tell you how many nights have been spent sobbing because I have worked myself into a frenzy over how someone I love might die someday if everything in the entire galaxy came together to form a sketch of Elvis.

HighShaman's avatar

I can totally relate…. BUT; we just have to deal with a brain that seems to be on overdrive…. guess it is better than not functioning at all or not enough…

JessicaisinLove's avatar

Like the way you explained your process.
My experiences with brainstorms are somewhat similar. Have small ones and large ones all the time. Some related to mysteries I’ve been pondering for years. They stimulate me mentally to follow those thoughts as far as I can. There are things I know
without a doubt whatsoever which will be discovered at some point by someone probably long after I’m gone. At the point when the borders of science meet, great things will happen.
Now if I could just remember where I park my car at the supermarket I’d be doing great.
Deep thoughts do have their draw backs.

dpworkin's avatar

If obsessive rumination keeps you between decisions and begins to interfere with your daily life, then you may have a problem. What you are describing just sounds like your personal problem-solving system. If it ain’t broke…

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

That’s what the ganja is for.

iphigeneia's avatar

I’m pretty sure there are times my brain works exactly the same way. There’s nothing wrong with having a crazy stream of consciousness, but you don’t really have anything to show for all the work your mind is doing! Why not channel your thoughts into some sort of creative activity? Jack Kerouac began his novel, On The Road, by taping together a roll of paper 120foot/37m long so that he could type without stopping to reload the typewriter.

dpworkin's avatar

@iphigeneia, Actually Kerouac used a roll of telegraph paper. The original, with his typewriter, was on display at the Whitney Museum’s “Beat” show a few years ago.

rooeytoo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES – uses the same method I do and learned it from the same place as I did. That book sure helped me to find a way out. I call it the endless loop tape in my head.

My other problem is I have wars in my head, you never know which side is going to win. I don’t want to drink Coke anymore but some days when I sit here at work and there is nothing happening, I can’t stand it and I go get a can.

That really is my major vice. I monitor my weight and I don’t let it get out of control. And I don’t think a can now and then is going to kill me (I had 2 this week though, and afterall it is almost Chrissy).

But after I succumb to the lure of the sugar and I have practically fallen over backwards trying to lick the last drop out of the can without amputating my tongue on the sharp edge, that’s when the recriminations begin.

Jeez I give myself so much hell, heheheh. I am a total nutcase and I freely admit it. So far no one has locked me up, so that is a positive!

iphigeneia's avatar

@pdworkin, ah is that so? The question just made me think of Kerouac, so I did a very quick wikipedia search.

@rooeytoo: when you have wars in your head, does each side have a different voice? Because when I have earnest conversations in my head, it’s like watching two different people talking, and until you get that I’d say you’re not a total nutcase :P

minolta's avatar

it happens to all of us..

try to meditate.

observe your thoughts and let them naturally pass by without clinging on to any of them.

rooeytoo's avatar

@iphigeneia – heheheh thank you, I am saved from myself. And to answer your question, nope only one voice, doesn’t even change sides, just keeps harping!

forgewolf's avatar

I think there are some ideas that are already innate ourselves but you don’t come fully aware of it until you come into a certain situation and realize that you have a wonderful and new idea.

MarkyMark's avatar

Yes I can relate (and judging from the other answers it seems people like us gravitate to forums like this. hehe! ) There is nothing wrong with being concerned about things, in fact it is an admirable trait. The problem is that to people with active minds concern can become a runaway train that leads to debilitating worry, stress, depression, anxiety, phobias and neuroses. It has taken me many years of practicing “self-awareness” so that I recognize when I am reaching that point and then to have the self-control to flick the mental “cut-out switch” and stop or re-route the train. There simply is no point in being too concerned about things that are outside of our “Circle of Influence” (the things we CAN change). The perimeter of this circle is a brick wall of frustration and disappointment. Better to concentrate our energies on changing the things we can change rather than worry about the things we cannot. Taking action dispels worry in the same way that facing our fears dispels those fears.

Regarding the thunderstorms – I think they are part of the creative process, the internal brainstorming if you will. I find that many times the solutions to problems I have been considering spring up spontaneously after a process of “sturm und drang”/confusion/ emotion followed by a period of taking some time-out/ diversion/ clearing the mind. The time-out being the period where everything settles “naturally” into its true and proper perspective, unaided by the conscious mind.

Talimze's avatar

I occasionally become overwhelmed by thoughts in that way. I tend to be extremely analytical, and I often get stuck thinking about one thing and looking at it at every conceivable angle in my mind, which I continue to do until I realize what I’m doing and then I try to force myself to stop, which I usually fail to do.
As for whether it’s helpful or harmful, I think that it’s both, but I don’t know if it’s more helpful or more harmful. Of course, it’s helpful when you can actually put that type of thinking to use rather than it just generating idle thoughts as it often does, but it can be harmful when you really need to be thinking about something else, and those thoughts end up clouding your mind. In that way, I suppose one might consider it to be a mental health issue; it certainly does make it difficult to focus on things. However, if it is a mental health issue, it seems like it’s a very common one. In fact, I’ve always thought that everyone’s brain works that way at times.

rooeytoo's avatar

@MarkyMark – you really describe my feelings very well. And I too have wondered often if there are so many people in the world who have these feelings or if we are all attracted to the anonymity and the ability to shut down the puter when it gets to be too much for an over loaded brain. As we can in fluther.

MarkyMark's avatar

@rooeytoo Indeed. The charm of these anonymous Q&A sites is that it allows people like us to express our thoughts in an uninhibited way to people with the same affliction. ;- ) Personally, I find even the process of typing out my thoughts, opinions and ideas in words – really defining them – is a great exercise in re-assessing them, critiquing them, tossing out those that don’t hold water for me any longer – as much for myself as for anyone else who will read them. Great therapy, I think! ;-)

camouflage_pants's avatar

Well, thanks for all the great answers, but like @pdworkin and someone else mentioned, if it broke, don’t fix it. I did put in the details that I find it more helpful than harmful. I have Prozac for the harmful thoughts.

GA to @JessicaisinLove, you actually figured out what I was talking about. I sometimes lose my car in the parking lot as well. :)

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