When we are in a bad place, we often try to use our minds to work our way out. We ask ourselves why the situation happened, we consider what we could’ve done differently, we try to figure out what we want and need. In other words, we try to think our way forward.
Sometimes, this works. Sometimes, we can see what went wrong, recalibrate and move forward with a new plan. However, sometimes there is no logical answer to be found. Sometimes we have feelings and thoughts for reasons we can’t explain.
This is difficult for those of us I like to call ‘logic lovers’. We want to believe there is a purpose and a reason for everything, and if we just think enough, we will discover some great answers. So we keep thinking, and thinking and thinking, and never move to doing.
I have been reading about a kind of therapy known as ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). The book I am currently reading is called Act Made Simple (check it out in my library). While it doesn’t directly call thinking a ‘coping mechanism’, it does refer to it as a means of avoiding discomfort.
Thinking is another way we try to manage the difficult things in our life. We drink, we exercise, we eat too much, and we worry. But we cannot think our way out of some problems. Our mind may not have the answers, or there just may be no answers to be had.
At times like this, we must realize that staying in the cycle of thinking is a coping mechanism gone awry. In ACT, they advise moving forward towards a value. When thoughts and feelings leave you in a cycle of discomfort and coping, instead look to who you want to be in the situation and move towards it.
As the cliché goes, sometimes it time to stop thinking, and start doing.