Would you say you’re an overthinker? Or would you have to… you know, think about it first?

In my view, there’s something noble in reflecting on your actions, in pausing before making an important decision, in picking your motivations apart to understand what drives you. Noble even if only because so few people nowadays bother to do it. Through the lack of any conscious effort, many people choose to be driven by instinct, opinion, by hope or fear, and it gives them as much liberty as it takes away. You’re better than that.

If the world is like a fractal, growing more detailed the closer you look, the human mind is definitely one too. The longer you spend examining a thought or an emotion, the more nuance you notice. Every new detail noticed leads to new thoughts and emotions. And then, before you know it, by looking inward for too long, you give up the benefits of self-awareness and reflection, and end up with doubt, anxiety, impostor syndrome, loss of confidence, and—in extreme cases—depression. And, most importantly, if you spend too much time obsessing about the contents of your head, you stop paying attention to people around you; their thoughts and emotions, and their inner drive. Self-reflection becomes self-indulgence.

Don’t get me wrong. A little overthinking is key to being a decent human being. But that inner fractal has no end, no bottom, no final conclusion that you can reach. It’s always work unfinished, territory unexplored. Worse yet, the pattern changes all the time, shaped by the events of your life. Any self-understanding you gain today is useless a month from now. You won’t even remember it.

Know when to stop. 

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