It's often said that as humans, we don't use more than 10% or our brains, or something like that. Sometimes I believe it, and other times I know this is completely ridiculous. Allow me to expand upon this idea.
First of all, idiots are everywhere. Allow me to use some visual evidence.
Examples of people using 10% of their brain (courtesy of Failblog):
There's lots of stupid to be had in the world. I don't think this comes as a shock to anyone. That being said, however, there are many times when I feel my brain heading into a state I call “over think.”
This typically happens for me under three circumstances: when trying to fall asleep, after sending a potentially anger-inducing text message/email to a friend, and when under pressure to accomplish something in a short amount of time.
I think we can all relate to the first of these. Thankfully this isn’t every night, but it’s not uncommon for me to be lying in bed with the lights off, saucer-eyed, while every synapse in my brain is ablaze pondering every possible outcome to every possible situation to every circumstance that has happened, is happening, or will happen in my life. “I sure had fun this weekend with so-and-so, I wonder when we’ll hang out again, am I going to have time this week? What am I doing this week? Shoot! Did I plan lessons for tomorrow? What classes do I have tomorrow? What time it? What day is it? Did I brush my teeth? It’s so cold in here. At least it’s warmer than in Paris. I wonder what the weather’s like in Paris? I haven’t talked to Paula in a while. I wonder what she’s doing. Shoot! I was supposed to talk to her today. I wonder if she wants to go to Amsterdam in a few weeks…” ad infinitum.
That is only a very brief excerpt, believe you me.
The second (and worst) happens when I decide to go out on a limb with a friend. Usually it’s someone I don’t know extremely well, but am just beginning a friendship with. It’s at the point where you’re starting to joke around more, becoming more comfortable with the person, but you still can’t quite be 100% your true self because, let’s face it, you’re a little weird. (Well, this mostly applies to myself; I can’t speak for everyone reading this.) I’m maybe emailing or texting back and forth with someone, and I decide to get a little punchy/sarcastic in a message.
In my brain, the chance this individual will get pissed off because of this message increases exponentially over time:
- 5 minutes: “Meh, s/he’ll probably think it’s funny."
- 30 minutes: “Hmm. ::rereads message:: Should I have said, ‘might,’ instead of ‘may be'? Oh well they’ll get it. I wonder why they haven’t responded though…”
- 2 hours: “Crap, I hope I didn’t stick my foot in my mouth." ::Rereads message again:: "No no, it’ll be fine. They’ll text back really soon.”
- 6 hours: “OOOMMMGGGGGG! Why am I such an IDIOT!" ::Franticly reread message:: "S/he is sssoooo pissed. Good thing I have other friends.”
Of course 99% of the time this is all rubbish. Chances are that the next time I talk to this person, if I reference the text message, I’ll be met with a blank stare of incomprehension, followed by, “oh yeah, haha, what did that even mean?” Or, on the rare occasion I’ve made the intent of my message known, I’ll normally be met with a, “it’s fine,” or, “of course I’m not angry.” Phew.
The third type of “over think” normally occurs when I’m working on lesson plans for the next hour/day (usually sometime in the very present future). This is the most distracting of the three, as I’m usually using the Internet for my lesson creating, and the Internet, let it be said, is nothing if not a procrastinator's drug of choice. My brain normally darts between lesson planning, skype-chatting, gchatting, facebook chatting, facebooking, emailing, lesson planning, weekend trip planning, reading the news headlines, getting a new email, lesson planning, and talking to anyone in my immediate vicinity. My newest technique to combat this is to have a blank piece of paper nearby on which I can write down all the fleeting thoughts that pass through my consciousness. Having a nice To Do list is great. Not that I necessarily get everything done, but at least I can focus on the task at hand and leave those stray thoughts trapped, immobile, on a piece of paper.
While still a work in progress, I've made great progress in all three aspects of my condition. If you're a fellow "over think" sufferer, take heart! There is hope for you too!