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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Don't ever think too much

Over the past few months I have received a number of comments, from those who know me well and those who know me less well, suggesting that I might over-intellectualise or over-think things. Naturally, this prompted me to think it over.

The two phrases seem allied but are actually different. One refers to my tendency to put things in a theoretical context - whether it is sociological, scientific, philosophical or otherwise. I discuss my actions and activities, but not in isolation. Mostly, I do this because I think it is interesting - I like that there is more to what I do than just insert tab A into slot B and pull tight. Also, I do it because in part, BDSM is an intellectual activity. I don't mean this in the sense that it should be studied in University (although that would be nice), but that a lot of it happens in the mind, so thinking about what I am thinking, why I am thinking it and what is driving that helps me understand what I'm doing. It is a learning process, for me, as well as something I do because I enjoy it. Learning about my reactions, their contexts, is learning about myself, which I consider always worthwhile.

The other is about how much and how often I think. The actual time spent on mulling things over. Which is a lot. My brain does not often turn off (part of this is why I enjoy objectification and other similar submissive activities so much - they allow me to not think, which is sometimes a welcome break). That said, I hate being told that I'm "over-thinking" because to me, that is a challenge to my own freedom and ability to think at all, to be who I am and to express my views in the way I want. I've since calmed down and realised that isn't the context, especially after discussions with others who were shocked that I had even thought such a thing in the first place. Probably me demonstrating my prejudices - that a comment about on my thinking is an "attack" on me as a person, the connection between how I think and my own sense of self being very closely allied: I think therefore I am.

Actually, a lot of the background behind the comments comes from concerns about me, so they come from a good place. People think that I am needlessly worrying myself with unnecessary things. I'm using italics because I think these are the key words, it's about what I should and shouldn't be bothering about. Emphasis on the root word "need" in both those terms, focusing on which bits of my thought processes are required. Which prompts the question: required for what? The answer is, in this instance, for my own happiness. Many of the thoughts I have had have been about self-doubt, self-worth and general unhappiness over The Photographer. So, no, these thoughts do not make me happy, and I would agree that if I could switch off my thoughts I would probably be happier. But I can't. And doing so would make me less me, less able to deal with my own problems in my own way. Which involves thinking. Bottoming things out, coming to conclusions and being able to draw lines under them and say "this happened because of that", again, understanding of myself and my situations are key to enhancing my life, even if the process itself is hard.

Which leads on to the other explanation that has been offered as to why I should think a little less: that my thinking is perhaps getting in the way of my doing - that I should just get on and enjoy life. I can't really ascribe to that position, partly because my intellectual process has driven a lot of my activities and my enjoyment. I'm also loathe to subscribe to the dichotomy of thought/action, personally, I'll have both, in spades. I want all aspects of my life to be full and meaningful, what I do, what I think, how I feel.

I know that there are those who are put off by my intellectualising, but that's just the way things are - I probably have any number of other, irritating, personal habits and behaviours which might bother other people but like my good bits (I do have some) they are what make me an individual and worth knowing above the crowd.
I'm naturally inclined towards thinking - I turn things over and over in my mind, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Yes, it probably makes difficult or upsetting situations more difficult and more upsetting than for someone who was able to "turn off" or someone for whom probing deeper into the whys and wherefores wasn't part of their make-up. Yet it also makes good experiences great because it's a component of my BDSM exploration and being able to revisit and challenge what I have done, express it through my writing and my self-critique has enhanced rather than detracted from my experiments.

4 comments:

M said...

Hi there,

I think I'm a first time poster but long time reader.

I admire very much the candour that you have in your blogs, and I realise that a lot of your thoughts and feelings are, like my blog; working through all the stuff you are going through at any given time.

I think that there are two ways that you can read into the comment that people sometimes have about 'over-thinking' things. I've heard it all too often told to my friends and myself. There is a legitimate and illegitimate interpretation:

1. Legitimate interpretation. Friends who care about you, know that indulging in negative thoughts beget more negative thoughts and feelings. 'Thinking too much' is in a sense, worrying yourself into a knot. As a depressive, I know this all too well, and yet I still fall into this trap.

2. Illegitimate interpretation: People who are either afraid of the thoughts you are having (because they are unfamiliar or don'tunderstand), or who themselves are threatened by difference, will try to make you conform to their standards and their way of expressing this is by saying that you think too much. On this reading, what they are talking is utter tosh. You are a fascinating, articulate and very eloquent individual and your thoughts are unique and fresh. To not think would deprive the universe of your intellectual insight. Don't listen to them if this is the reading of the phrase.

Kind regards,
Conatus

Lizzie Barrett said...

I know of no one who means that they don't want to hear your thoughts when they say that. I mean, when I say it to you or anyone else (I have no idea if I have said it to you) that you are worrying about things outside your control and mire specifically, trying to think of a way to get them into your control. We all do it. I went to therapy so I would stop doing it so much. I think that may be where people are coming from?

Typing on iPhone so won't go into St. Francis' prayer but call if you want to talk this through and if you want to hear the coping mechanisms I learned.

electronic doll said...

Hi M, thanks for posting (I like comments).

I've never wanted to diminish the value of the "outside" observer - like yourself - after all, they are never concerned with hurting my feelings or damaging any existing relationship so perhaps can be more objective, also they might have a clarity from some experience I have not yet had. Which might be useful.

That said, the opinions of those who know me and who care about me are more important, in the sense that those are the people I rely on.

Although on both fronts, my presentation of my thoughts will continue as normal, regardless of what others say.

electronic doll said...

Hey Lizzie,

I am not actually concerned that I am "thinking too much" - I don't believe I am, I'm just reacting/processing in a way that is normal for me.

The comments I was talking about were less day-to-day life and more comments and reactions I've had to this blog, which I thought was interesting as it obviously only really reflects part of me. I also think that the blog itself can come across as rather think-ey because that's its nature - it's my thoughts and feelings.