Sophrosyne

How do you want to live your life?

Overthinking

on September 25, 2012

I used to be very guilty of over thinking things. For example if someone I know walked passed me without saying ‘Hello’; my immediate response would be….’did I do or say something to offend them?’ I do have the tendency to say whatever comes to mind; but these days, I am more mindful about what comes out of my mouth. Also, I have changed my view on such matters. Instead of immediately thinkingĀ that I had done something wrong; I chose to apply more logical possibilities which are often closer to the truth. If they walked passed me, chances are they are preoccupied with something and did not see me. That’s all. It is the same as receiving bad service from the waiter. How often do we stop to remember that they too, are human and are entitled to have a bad day? Or something happened at home??

It gets worse these days as people communicate electronically instead of face to face or on the phone. Face to face is pretty straight forward, they are in front of you and you do not have to second guess what they are thinking. Over the phone, you are still able to hear their emotions through their voice. But these days, we mostly email or text using our mobile phones. Therefore, we have to contend with only words and fill in the gaps with our own imagination.

Unfortunately it does not work that way! No matter how well we feel we know someone; we can never assume how they sound like when they are saying something. The classic one will be the one letter response – k . Most people use it when they want to reply quickly and most of the time they genuinely only mean : sure, ok. But there are times when you cancel an appointment or have to say no to something. Then you get this respondĀ – k . Now what am I suppose to think? To me, it sounds like the person is upset and is being abrupt. See what I mean??

Texts and emails have no tone. We apply them ourselves and they are often not an accurate depiction of the actual situation. The same phrase can have multiple meaning just by changing the tone and delivery. This is also how misunderstandings happen. We choose to hear the message in a certain tone, and we get ourselves all worked up. But the whole time, we apply the meaning without giving the other party a chance to explain or defend.

So, the purpose of today’s post is this: Be aware of when you apply tones to words only messages. Ask yourself if you are overthinking it? If you are unsure, the best thing to do is to ask the person in question. Remember what the word assume stands for? Assume makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

 


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