The world is full of addictions: addiction to drug, alcohol, pornography, sex. But there is an addiction which is pervasive and greater than all these – addiction to thinking. I call it the mother of all addictions. You probably have never read about thinking as an addiction. Well, the people you are expecting to write about it are also addicted to thinking and do not know it.
A thought usually starts very little and grows to become destructive. Thought is a little magnetic entity and it wants your attention in order to grow. It tries in subtle ways to get your attention. When it succeeds in doing this, it tries to pull you in. This is how little thoughts rise to bigger thoughts.
When the mind perceives there is a problem to be solved, addiction tends to intensify. You want answers. You want solutions. You want to figure it out because when you do everything will be better. Really? Overthinking makes things worse than they are. It ruins the situation, makes you worry, and ruins you.
Most of us are occupied with the content of the mind. The mind then reigns supreme. After using the comb on your hair, the proper thing to do is to drop the comb. Imagine combing your hair throughout the day continuously. That will be insane. The mind is a tool to be used when necessary in our practical life. After use, one should let go of the use of the mind and come back into the present moment. It is insanity to use the mind throughout the day, thinking every minute or second. But this is how most people live. They are lost in unconscious and unproductive thinking in which they addictively replay the same mental patterns again and again in their heads. Rather than being a helpful tool, the mind is more like a possessive master. Are you feeling depressed, troubled, or unhappy? If yes, then one thing is certain – you are thinking or over thinking about something. So you suffer. Thinking and suffering are inseparable.
One of the most prominent characteristic of typical addictive thinking is to externalize problems, to blame things on other people or situations. This tendency to play the role of victim and/or to be bitter about what life has “done to” him or her is totally unconscious on the part of the addict and is part of the denial system. Those addicts who have an easier time expressing hurt outwardly invariably take the role of being bitter or angry. The unconscious reward in this for chemically dependent individuals is that they never have to look at themselves, and therefore, never have to quit using substances.1
Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling stressed? If yes, then you are addicted to thinking. The consequence of addiction to thinking can be serious: being lost in thought to the point of not being aware of what is happening around you. This can lead to accidents and missing out on the joys of life.
The racing of thoughts in your head is your mind’s way to flee the present moment. Your mind is resisting what is, and it is especially so when what is is not wanted or desired. So your thought goes to the past (What could I have done differently?) or to the future (What will go wrong?). It does not want to stay in the present moment. It is this resistance to what is that causes anxiety and stress. You lack peace then because your mind is filled with thoughts that just won’t stop.
To stop excessive thinking, you have to take a step back and observe your mind in action – you have to become a watcher. Watching your thoughts brings consciousness to it and consciousness dissolves thoughts. Much of your thinking happens on auto pilot and you are hardly aware that it is happening. Because you did not bring your presence to your thoughts, your thoughts seem powerful. Bring awareness to thoughts and they dissolve. You do not have to try to stop thinking. Thinking stops automatically when you are conscious enough to watch the mind in action without getting caught up in the content of the mind. In doing so you allow your thought to come up without following it to where it wants you to go which is into bigger thoughts.
Note: Las Vegas Recovery Center, Characteristics of Active Addiction: Typical Adictive Thinking, www.lasvegasrecovery.com/characteristics-of-active-addiction-typical-addictive-thinking, Accessed May 28, 2017.