Thinking in my head is a messy process. At any one point in time, there are a hundred and one things going on in my mind. These include thoughts, ideas, tasks, worries etc. Although I have no trouble staying focused, it can be hard to manage so many thoughts at once. It is therefore not surprising that ideas rarely turn out the way I imagine when I think in my head. It is only when I write down my thoughts that I can see the picture more clearly.
The Trouble with Thinking
1. Distortion of Thoughts
My thoughts can go through a distortion process in my head. The chief culprit is usually my emotions. The more emotionally invested I am in a situation, the greater the distortion to my thinking. Fear for example can make a problem seem larger than it actually is. Or my enthusiasm may make an idea seem better than it really is in my mind than in reality. All these distortions make it hard for me to think clearly or objectively. This will only lead to trouble when it comes to making good choices.
2. Leaking Brilliance
How many things can you remember when you have a lot going on in your mind? If you are like me, the answer is not many. There is no problem if there are only a few things going in your mind. But if it is a madhouse in there, chances are some ideas will disappear as quickly as you had them. In such cases, it is so easy to forget or overlook certain ideas when you think in your head. The worst part is that these flashes of brilliance might be important. And once they are gone, we may never have them again.
3. Messy Thoughts
Another problem with thinking in your head is messy thoughts. While you might be thinking about some matter, a stray thought might just come along and distract you. Often the more uninteresting the matter is, the more vulnerable you are. Once you lose your train of thought, it may well be difficult to pick up from where you left off.
Also, it can be hard to plan in your head. When you have a difficult goal to reach, it is not easy to work out a detailed plan and to put all the logical steps in place in your head. There is just too much going on at once. Soon, you might find yourself confused and uncertain about how to proceed.
The Benefits of Thinking and Writing
Given the problems I have with thinking in my head, I try to write my thoughts whenever I can. By doing so, I find that I can think more clearly and objectively. Here are the reasons I find thinking and writing helps.
1. An Uncluttered Mind
By writing down all the ideas and thoughts I have, I remove the clutter from my mind. As such, I do not need use up brainpower to remember important ideas. With the capacity that I free up, I can devote my focus to other matters that need my attention. Not only can I resolve the task at hand, I can come back to my notes later to deal with lingering problems. By then, I might just have thought of a solution to resolve the problem.
2. Clarity of Thought
This is my favourite benefit – clarity of thought. When I write down my thoughts, I can see the pros and cons involved. I can also see how feasible an idea really is now that I have brought it out of my head into the real world. Even until this day, I never cease to be amazed at how different an idea might seem on paper compared to when it was in my head. With my thoughts clearly before my eyes, I can make an objective decision about what to do next.
3. Managing Emotions
Sometimes I need an outlet for my emotions. This is especially so if I am going through a difficult time. Here, writing can be a therapy of sorts. By expressing myself on paper, I can detach myself from my emotions and see them in an objective light. As I mentioned earlier, what we think in our heads and how it appears in reality can be quite different. Since it is reality that matters, it may do us good to write to manage our emotions well.
I rarely keep a hand-written journal because my writing fluctuates with my mood. When my mind is not at peace, my writing is really messy. In such cases, it becomes a conscious effort to write legibly so that I can read what I write at a later date. I generally prefer to jot down my thoughts on my laptop where I can edit and update them with ease.
How does writing and thinking work for you? Do you write down your thoughts to manage your thinking? What medium do you use to record your thinking? Are there any other problems you face with thinking in your head? Can you think of any other benefits of writing down your thoughts? Do share your thoughts and comments below.