Save yourself from the endless and fruitless struggle to understand everything
Everyone has that one friend who sees too much
Everyone has that one friend who sees too much.
Someone who looks too far into everything. Someone who makes spontaneous inferences based on observing a single interaction. Someone who compulsively raises and weighs the potential explanations for why things happened to them.
It’s quite exhausting to be around. Listening to your friend tumble down the rabbit hole of useless rumination over a one word text message from some guy she barely knows, you can’t help but think, wow, you desperately needs some upside down ankle shaking.
But this behavior is nothing new. Philosophers have been warning us about these mind traps for centuries.
Seneca said that we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.
Shakespeare said that there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Dostoyevsky said to think too much is a disease.
All of them are correct. We have to be careful not to get too trapped inside our own heads. Because when we insist on superimposing meaning onto every bloody mundane moment of our life, then life’s fundamental significance may never reveal itself to us.
Degeneres makes a cheesy but precise joke in her latest comedy special about this very tendency:
People are always looking into things and looking for signs about what things mean. Like for years, every time I looked at the clock, it was eleven past eleven. And every time, and I started wondering, well, what does this mean? For me it was a dead battery.
This tendency is deeply human. Swimming through this pointless black chaos called life, we’re all seeking validation that we’re on the right path. We’d all love someone to tell us how everything works and why everything hurts.
But there’s a fine line between healthy curiosity and neurotic fixation.
When we start over analyzing every interaction of our lives, finding nuance where there is none, looking too far into things for messages and signs that simply aren’t there, building these relationships inside our heads, the habit mutates from reflecting upon ourselves to obsessing over ourselves.
Remember, this situation isn’t as important as your anxiety says it is.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you save yourself from the endless and fruitless struggle to understand everything?