Overthinking and imaginary dialogues

Personal Development & Growth Self Awareness Stories and Parables

Overthinking and imaginary dialogues

This week I come back with a story that illustrates an incapacitating problem for many people. Our inability to take effective action and solve our problems while wasting our energy in overthinking. How we tend to play imaginary dialogues in our head that in 99% of cases do not reflect reality… Read the somewhat funny story of “The jack” and the solution follows!

“The jack” a story on the consequences of overthinking

The mishap

Peter finished work at 8 pm that evening and immediately embarked on the long drive to his cottage. He would spend 5 hours driving his car to be able to join his wife and children who were already in their cottage waiting to spend the weekend with him. Around midnight and while he was in a deserted part of the road, he got a flat tire. Outraged by his fate, he opened the trunk and discovered that while he had a spare tire, he didn’t have a jack! He took his cell phone out of his pocket only to realize that there was no signal! Overwhelmed by despair, he frantically started looking around for a solution. To his relief, he saw a dim light in the distance.

A promising option

“It must be coming from a house” he thought “I’m going to go over there and ask them to lend me a jack!” So he started heading to the house, walking and thinking to himself at the same time. “It’s very late. The folk must be sleeping. When I ring the bell, I’ll wake them up. I’ll ring and they won’t hear a thing…” Troubled by that thought, he said to himself: “Well, I’ll ring again and again until they hear me. I need help. At some point, they will answer the door.”

The imaginary reaction

He let out a sigh of relief and kept walking… and thinking… “Yes, they will finally come to the door but whoever opens will be disoriented and startled having just woken up. They might even be terrified that someone rang their doorbell in the middle of the wilderness so late at night. They might even point a rifle at me and tell me, ‘What do you want, man? What do you think you are doing ringing doorbells in the middle of the night?’’ I’ll then say ” I am sorry to be bothering you but I was stranded because of a flat tire a mile from here and, unfortunately,  I don’t have a jack’’ and then he will snap at me saying ‘And because you’re stupid enough not to to check whether you have a jack in your trunk before you embark on a road trip, you think that gives you the right to come knocking on my door and disturbing my sleep?’ and I’ll tell him ‘But I didn’t do it on purpose, sir. I left straight from work to spend some time with my family…’ and he will interrupt me to say,” And what do I care if you did it on purpose or not? Why should I care if you want to see your family? The fact remains that you weren’t properly prepared.’

The imaginary last resort

And I’ll beg him, ‘Please, sir. It’s human to err and we all need help from time to time’ and he’ll reply, Who do you think I am? Mother Teresa? Go somewhere else to ask for help!’’ And I will tell him “But where else can I go?’’ And he will tell me ‘I couldn’t care less about your problems buster!’ and  I say, ‘But I only asked you for help, sir. Why are you treating me like that?’ And then he will raise his riffle and say ‘Get the hell out of here or else!’

The unjustified indignation

Absorbed in his thoughts, he found himself in front of the door of the house without even realizing it. He rang the bell and a man opens the door in his pyjamas. “Good evening, sir. Are you all right? What can I do for you? he asked politely. However, Peter was so caught up in the scenario that he had created in his head that he didn’t even hear what the man had just told him. He looked at him angrily and shouted, “You can keep your stupid jack! I don’t need your help if you are to make a big deal out of it!” He turned around and headed for his car…

Past trauma at the root of overthinking

Because of our past, our experiences, our fears and the survival mechanisms we have developed in our effort to cope with life’s difficulties, sometimes, instead of taking action when needed, we begin to overthink things and imagine reactions or consequences that either stop us from going ahead and solving our problems, as in our story, or have as freeze and do absolutely nothing.

Action as the only antidote to overthinking

In conclusion, when faced with a problem, don’t give in to overthinking and imaginary dialogues!


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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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