Richard van der Linde

How to stop thinking excessively?

In this era of information, the habit of endless thinking is one of the main issues that affect the quality of our lives. It’s usually an indicator too for other imbalances such as tiredness, stress and having difficulties to make the right decisions.

When you want to do something about this you run into 80,000+ self-development books. They all proclaim to be the best approach, but none of the books seems to work for everybody.

How to choose? You might try an approach that worked for someone you know or because the reviews online are positive, but in most cases this won’t give satisfying results.

People then usually postpone the quest, as they have no desire to go down a path of trial-and-error without a clear guiding principle for selecting the next approach. Only to return to it when the endless chatter becomes unbearable. Again and again.

Choosing from two opposing directions

That was me, back in 2016 — a management consultant struggling to find a solution for his excessive thinking. After a few cycles I decided to go all-in until I would discover a guiding principle that made sense and worked. After an intense battle I finally found my blind spot.

As it appeared, there were two opposing intentions for self-development and I was switching back and forth between them without being aware of it. A contradiction! Or not?

While many books contain similar practices, such as mindful meditation and ways to explore your inner feelings, it’s the intention for it that counts. A writer either proposes these practices for the purpose of gaining control or, perhaps indirectly, for the purpose of letting go of control.

These two intentions, to gain or to let go of control, basically follow from our ideas about the nature of consciousness. Your average spiritual teacher will tell you that you’re a soulthat can manifest all sorts of things in life, whereas the average neuroscientist will tell you that evidence is mounting that what we perceive as a self (the supposed soul), is a creation of the brain. But, interestingly, quite a few popular teachers in the self-development domain, such as Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts or Sam Harris, would concur with the neuroscientist. I wrote about this in another article.

Upon this insight, I defined my own intention, my guiding principle and selected books that were right for me. Those were books I already read, but now the message appeared very different and suddenly the practices paid off. My excessive thinking simply balanced out because I lost a belief in the ability to know certain things.

When talking about this, it turned out that most people that struggle with similar issues had the same blind-spot. I ended up organizing short retreats to assist people in overcoming this blind-spot and use my experiences to write articles that may point it out to people without any personalized assistance from me.

Feel free to ask any question of course. Best of luck and enjoy the ride.