Thinking, Overthinking, and Brooding
Hi, everyone. First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t been putting stuff up lately – truth to tell, I’ve been more interested in reading other people’s posts and thinking about them than writing my own for the last few months. (As a result, there may be a flurry of recommended posts coming up soon.) But I was thinking yesterday about a situation I’m in, and decided that the results of that would likely make a good post.
But before I start going into it, here are the definitions I’m using for the title triad.
Thinking: the process of using one’s mind to consider or reason about something (New Oxford American Dictionary)
Overthinking: to think about (something) too much or for too long (New Oxford American Dictionary)
Brooding: think deeply about something that makes one unhappy (New Oxford American Dictionary); think about something that makes one unhappy over and over again – toeing the line of being a compulsive thought (me)
There are these social groups that I’m in due to the Autism Society here (they’re run by the society), and someone else in them has over the past couple of weeks made a few comments that I’ve felt are inappropriate in the settings that we have been in, and uncomfortable personally for me. But although doing a bit of a rant here about what was said might help me feel a bit better, and possibly provide some parents with ideas on how to go about teaching their children what’s appropriate and not in various contexts, that’s not actually what this post is about. It’s about an element of my reaction to those comments.
The first thing to take into account is that I don’t like confrontation, which was partially why I didn’t respond to the first set of comments on the day they were made. Instead, I ended up working out something to say for the next meeting of that particular group. The second thing (and this, I think, is at least partially an aspect of my autism, and likely partially because I’m a natural introvert) is that I’m not particularly quick-witted when it comes to verbal exchanges – which resulted in various situations when I was a child where I had trouble responding to teasing, to the point it became bullying. So I don’t always come up with a good comment or set of comments to respond when the situation is in progress. Usually it takes me until later – especially if the situation is a somewhat stressful one – to decide what I should have said at the time, or what I should say now.
And that is in a large part what this post will be about – the way I react after the fact, and what happens as a result.
So, the title of this post is quite applicable to the process that seems to happen once I think up a statement or comment that I should have made. First of all, I end up thinking over what I should have said at the time – or at least, various comments that I could have made that would have at least let the other person know that I wasn’t comfortable with what they were saying. Then I think that you know, I might not have been the only one, and I really ought to bring this up to the person, so that they realize that. That’s the “thinking” aspect of the title triad.
Then I start to think about how I should word my explanation/comments – because spontaneous responses are not a forte of mine – see above about verbal quick-wittedness and lack thereof. So I start to work out the wording in my head.
(Note: Generally at no point in this process do I write down what I’m thinking, unless it’s involved in a story that I’m writing. But when it comes to responding to other people… usually I don’t. Not unless I’m fairly certain that even trying to speak about it will lead to a meltdown, in which case I write an email, and the process ends there, before I can get into the overthinking and the brooding elements.)
Once I’ve got a basic wording worked out… that’s when I end up starting to overthink the matter. First I think about how the person – and the other people in the situation with us – might respond. (Note that I’m not terribly good at this unless I know what the others’ opinions are beforehand.) Then I think about how I should respond to their responses. So on and so forth. That becomes the “overthinking” aspect.
Then we get into the “brooding” aspect – which I consider to be partially an inability to let a thought about something unhappy go (see definitions), though not quite on the order of a compulsive thought. I tend to go back and review the wording I’m thinking of using, and review it, and review it, and wonder how the other people will really react (as opposed to how I think they may react, which I’m fully aware can be different). This is definitely the part of the process I like least, since it’s going overboard and it doesn’t let me push the ideas/wording away until it’s time for them to be used, but I can’t seem to escape it. With the first situation that arose, I was thinking on and on and on about it, which just made the situation seem even worse than it may have been. (Maybe. It was a very inappropriate set of comments.)
The second one is the one I was brooding over yesterday, and thinking about it ended up getting me to look at what I was actually doing – which prompted this post. I just could not let go of the situation. I felt it was definitely inappropriate, at least for a mixed-gender group, and just…. *shakes head*
So, just some thoughts here about the process of dealing with situations like that, and how we might process them. I’d welcome your thoughts on the subject, especially since this ended up being one of my typically rambling posts that I’m not sure actually got to the point I was trying to make! 😉