“You Think Too Much.”

by Amy on April 6, 2018

“You Think Too Much.”

I get this a lot.

And, frankly, I find it irritating.

What else am I supposed to do? I have a brain, therefore I think.

I get it…I’m supposed to listen to my heart. It will steer me in the best direction.

In some ways I’m the opposite of an over thinker. I’m one of those. I jump right in. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not so much.

But I admit I do overthink in some situations.

No where is the overthinking more apparent than when I play tennis. As the naturally competitive person I am, I really want to win.

It never fails. I’m up the first set 3-0 when I start THINKING.

It goes something like…

“Up 3 to 0… Yes! I doubt she’ll get a game off me…”

This is when it all goes to shit. All of a sudden I start double faulting. I can’t get a return back. I miss long, I hit short, I can’t volley for the life of me.

As soon as I start to think about the score, I always play worse.

I remember when I was a new life coach… I loved to coach as much as I love to play tennis.

Of course I wanted to do a good job. No… I wanted to do an amazing job. Which led me to do a lot of unnecessary THINKING during my sessions…

“What if I don’t know what to say next? What tool should I use right now? What if my client doesn’t like this session?”

I’d put so much pressure on myself that I actually started to dread coaching.

Ironically things turned around as soon as I stopped giving a shit. It was Martha Beck herself who convinced me that the less I worried about doing a good job, the more my clients would get out of my coaching sessions.

So I gave myself permission to laugh and joke and be myself in my coaching sessions, not the savvy coach I thought I was supposed to be.

If I didn’t know what to say next, I didn’t worry about it. I’d simply say, “I’m not sure what to say next…” and then miraculously I’d know what to say next.

Martha was right. I coached better and my clients kept coming back.

In her memoir, Unstoppable, five time grand slam winner, Maria Sharapova, describes it as caring while not caring.

How often do you worry about outcomes, putting pressure on yourself to win? It doesn’t have to be tennis. I might a promotion or a new rank, or a book deal (ahem) or your launch.

Here’s what I know now…

The second you start thinking about the end result, you take yourself right out of the moment where you need to be to do a good job. Thinking about how badly you want to achieve the thing, causes you to get tight.

In tennis that means you double fault or you hit short. Not good.

In life it means you take too much time on stuff because you want to get it exactly right or you obsess over your strategy ending up in analysis paralysis. Or you just stare at Facebook, too overwhelmed to do anything.

See how that works?

The bottom line:

Success is about how you pay attention in the here and now. Do you let yourself love on the moment hard — enjoy the feel of the ball against your racket or the feeling of deep connection with another human being — or do you let your thoughts steal you away from the moment.

Care… from a place of reverence for the joy that brought you to that moment and then let go of the rest.

I get it now…

Overthinking is what I do out of habit, when I love something so much that I start to think I might not be worthy of it.

So I remind myself…

I don’t have to be good.

I just have to see it as the gift it is.

And love on it hard in the moment.

What more is there to think about?

Psst: Over thinkers!  Arborvitae is the oil of “divine grace.” It’ll help you give it to God (whatever that means to you) instead of trying to do it all by sheer force. Try some on the solar plexus, crown of head or bottom of feet.

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I keep thinking about a conversation I had years ago with a woman working in the registrar’s office of my college. I was ordering transcripts for an application to work in Japan as an English teacher.

She wanted to know what I was working on.

“I’m applying for the JET Programme with my husband,” I shared.
“Oh, teaching English in Japan, right?” she asked cheerfully.
…And then her face turned more serious. “How long have you been married?” she scrutinized me as if she knew something I didn’t.
“A little over a year… why?” I wondered what this stranger could possibly know about my marriage.
“That isn’t long to be married… A move to Japan could cause you both a lot of stress. It could be hard on your marriage,” she offered in a patronizing voice.
I should have said, “Yeah, lady, so can having babies and working forty hours a week.”
Instead I nodded politely and mumbled “We will keep that in mind, thank you,” as I left.

(Dream crushers disguised with good intentions will find you in the most unlikely of places.)

It seems that everyone who’s anyone in the book publishing industry wants to tell me its impossible to publish a memoir. Coming off of these conversations I ask myself, “what the hell is the point?” Then I look at Facebook or fold laundry instead of working on my book.

It’s not that I doubt them or question their expertise…

The thing I have to remind myself is this:

Dreams are risky. Pursuing one might very well put a strain on your marriage or cause you to spend a lot of money or work two jobs or have your hopes dashed.

When you have a dream, especially when you really start to work towards it, the dream crushers will find you.
I really do think many of them do have good intentions. They don’t want you to get hurt or disappointed or end up an old spinster with no one but a gaggle of cats (and a bad book that no one reads). But I think there are others out there who hate the idea of you reaching your dreams because it reminds them of their dreams, the ones they didn’t have the guts to go for. It reminds them of what could’ve been. And that hurts. A lot. It’s supposed to.

Perhaps an official warning would satisfy all parties. Sort of like the warning labels on cigarettes:

Or on these zippers (for people who have a penis):

Something like…

WARNING: Your dream may lead to massive disappointment leading you to die alone, broke, lonely and unaccomplished.

Unfortunately the majority of folks will heed the warning. One well-intentioned warning after all can and will cause you to recall every other negative potentiality that had all ready been stewing around in your mind. That one warning especially from an “expert” can validate all those fear-laced worst case scenarios you have already imagined.

But remember:

Jk Rowling was a single mom on welfare when she started writing Harry Potter.
Jim Carrey was living in his car.
Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school.
Walt Disney was fired from a job because “he lacked imagination.”
Thomas Edison was told he was “too stupid to learn anything.”

There are some who choose to ignore the warnings and “expert” advice despite the risk and evidence that these experts might actually be right.

These folks, mere humans like you and me, choose to listen to something inside, a voice or just a feeling. Who choose day after day, despite all the noise outside reminding them of how impossible it is, to return again and again to whatever that is inside of them. To trust it above all else. To remember that a dream is a sacred gift that must be claimed through adversity, by facing one’s deepest fears and learning to listen to the heart above all even if it means a penis or two might be harmed in the process.

And even if I don’t amount to anything and I just end up proving the experts right, I’d still rather be a dreamer with a bad book holding up the other dreamers, celebrating their dreams and reminding them of what is possible, urging them to be brave and listen closely to what is inside.

Which is why…

I pledge to try and fail again and again, ignoring all outside evidence or expert advice, in honor of whatever it is inside me that keeps dreaming.

I hope you do too.

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