I wish my mind had an off-switch

Throughout the majority of most days, my mind will constantly drift away and reflect on a number of topics that I can’t seem to get out of my head. What I’m thinking about usually involves subjects that were brought up to me earlier, and are somewhat controversial, debatable, difficult to resolve, or simply extremely thought-provoking. A couple of examples to mention here might include third-wave feminism, racial tensions in big cities, the existence of free will, the rising Islamic State, and if Sonic Adventure 2 is actually a good game. It most often happens when my mind is relatively free from stimulation and I’m doing something very simple like walking, driving, eating, showering, or waiting for an appointment.

Unlike many people who seem able to put their mind at rest when they’ve decided their opinion on a topic, I often find myself incapable of settling upon any specific, concrete viewpoint. Instead, I have to keep considering both sides of the debate and how each would respond to a given counter-argument, while also dwelling upon the potential consequences of any claim or suggestion proposed. I feel compelled to make absolutely sure that I’m looking at the topic from a fair, objective perspective and am not jumping to conclusions nor being biased against one stance or another.

I think everyone can agree that there are many problems around the world today that are far too complicated for a one-sided solution, and instead require thoughtful discussion. If these issues really were that simple and could be resolved right away, then they wouldn’t be so controversial to begin with. However, I perceive that for the majority of people, a clear-cut answer is available, and when they believe they have discovered it, it isn’t very easy to change their minds. For me, it’s an entirely different story. While I do hold certain philosophical and political values close to my heart that I doubt will ever radically change (at least not without effective convincing), my specific viewpoints on a variety of topics is either uncertain or always changing. I am not suggesting that I cannot decide at all what my social and political ideology is, as I always have something to say about social and political topics. What I’m trying to get at here, rather, is that there are so many different factors to take into consideration with issues such as immigration, free will, poverty, and the quality of video games that I find it incredibly hard to reconcile with them successfully.

This means that I can’t help but see why any sort of stance on these issues could be problematic for one reason or another, or could legitimately be called “downright wrong” by the opposite side. As a result, my mind is regularly fixed upon these concerns and I have to debate with myself over what is right, what is wrong, and how we should approach these topics. Saying to myself, “Look, let’s just say that X is the right answer to Y and leave it at that,” is rarely ever an option for me (except maybe for same-sex marriage). In my view, there is almost ALWAYS more to the story that we need to consider, meaning that whatever argument you side with is always going to be confronted with legit complaints and counter-arguments. Both the pro immigrant rights and anti-immigration stance, for example, are riddled with logical inconsistencies, negative implications, and so many ways in which they can be wrong (even though I side a bit more with pro-immigrants’ rights). So I will keep on pondering over these complications, until I find something else to obsess over or at least something to distract me.

Pretty much whenever I have the opportunity, I will engage in a sort of mental discussion regarding a number of these topics – continuously attempting to make better sense of them and possibly form a more informed, more objective opinion of them. While I’m driving home from work, for instance, I will most likely spend much of the ride debating with myself regarding whether or not abortion could be considered wrong, if hard rock has any place in future mainstream music, and the true validity of full gender or racial equality. The debates will go on and on until I get tired of them, only to shift to another topic, and then to yet another topic, and so on. In almost all cases, the debate will never reach a satisfying conclusion, and I am simply left as uncertain about these issues as I was before. It’s as if I am literally having constant debates with a clone of myself: I can’t resist constantly talking to this other me, we can hardly agree on any political, social, or philosophical topic, and we change the topic every 5 minutes or so.

So in other words, my mind will just never shut up! I cannot avoid the ongoing barrage of thoughts and considerations of various topics of interest, even when I’m trying my absolute best to stay relaxed or focused on something. Yes, there are plenty of moments when I am not engaged in this mental debate, but that’s usually when I’m doing something that requires my full attention like playing video games or talking to someone else. Even then, however, it is still challenging to not subconsciously reflect upon matters that stimulate my curiosity. The whole thing can give me a serious headache at times, and make me desperately wish that I could just form an opinion and stick with it. If it were at all possible for me to merely stop obsessing over these things and have a calm, yet attentive mind, you can bet that I would. As usual, the world just doesn’t work like that, and so I am left to deal with this issue as best as I can.

Much like with my anxiety and difficulty focusing, I am currently trying to reduce my obsessive mindfulness through activities like exercise, meditation, and reading. The progress, so far, is tremendously slow, and I don’t expect to be rid of this issue any time soon. Maybe some of you can relate to this sort of problem, in which case I would love to discuss it with you. Indeed, if there is anyone out there who also suffers from a mind that won’t sit still, then please know that I understand completely what you’re going through, and that you have my utmost support!


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