Analyzing the Analysis

I discovered today that Day 26 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge – which was actually yesterday- was to write about your worst habit.  Had to think on that one for a moment.  I considered many habits such as my long term relationship with procrastination.  As I pondered the options, I asked myself the pertinent question, “What is a bad habit?”

A bad habit, I decided, is one that accomplishes nothing and wastes a great deal of time.  So how then, do I waste the most time?  How do I even spend the majority of my time?  As I sifted through an average day, I realized that a vast majority of time is wasted on analysis and it goes on all day every day while I’m doing other things – which also makes it a dangerous habit.  It doesn’t take much for something to trigger the analytical thinking.

See, I have this habit of replaying every moment of events, conversations, interactions – pretty much anything.  I replay the memory in my mind over and over and over again.  They can be recent or they can be from way back in my past.  The thing about replays, however, is that once you have gone over the event or conversation in your mind, you are no longer really remembering the initial event/conversation – instead, you are remembering your last recall.  This recall based on a replay is heavily influenced by the replay analysis.  It is how memories can be misleading.

So, if memories are not fact and instead are more of a slightly and slowly evolving fiction, then why does the mind want to replay them at all?  Why analyze a previous analysis?  I find that I will analyze every situation to death until my brain is satisfied.

Sometimes I over analyze a conversation by evaluating the body language of the other person, their words in relation to their body language, what clothes they were wearing, what they had said in previous and subsequent conversations, their actions following the conversation, the actions prior to the conversation, conversations they have had with others since our conversation, conversations they had prior to our conversation, how I responded inwardly to their words, how I responded on the outside to their words, what I was wearing, where the conversation took place, what I wish I had said, what I should have said, what I wish they had said and what I wish they had done.  Those are all just the basics of a beginning analysis.

The deeper, more time consuming analysis involves deciphering the ‘true’ meaning of their words, determining the intended meaning of their words, figuring out their motivations, figuring out how I feel about this ‘true’ meaning vs the probably intended meaning.  I think about what I should say next time I converse with this person, what I should say when I converse with mutual friends or mutual enemies.

I carefully sift through all memories pertaining to this particular person and attempt to link them together whether through similar content of their words, similar behaviors, similar situations or anything that could even in the loosest of terms be identified as a pattern.  I will eventually rank the currently being analyzed conversation as important or useless in relation to all other conversations or interactions with this person.

Later, when I revisit the conversation, I will begin to expand on the conversation.  I forecast possible future encounters with the person, possible future conversations and I plan accordingly.  There are unfortunately, an infinite number of possibilities of what could happen between myself and this person but I ignore most by ruling them out as unlikely.

I focus instead on narrowing down a group of most likely scenarios.  In each scenario I evaluate what I should say, how I should act, what I should expect from the other person as related to what they may say, what they may do, whether or not I will enjoy or regret what is said and done, whether the next encounter/convo will provide any needed answers, whether it will depress me or lead to anger and on and on and on.

At some point, as time goes on and things change, I may revisit the previous analysis and alter it based on new information.  They say hindsight is 20/20 for a reason.  New information and new perceptions when applied to old memories can drastically change my opinion of what happened.

I like to think of it as layering.  I start with the initial layer, which is the initial event.  The next layer is after the event when it becomes, officially, a memory.

After the two initial establishing of layers, each analyzation of each analysis adds a new layer.  Some events have so many layers, the original is lost forever and all that remains are tinted versions based partially on fact, partially on sensory related memories, partially on my feelings and mostly on what I think happened but are not certain.

So this is undoubtedly, my worst habit, this overanalyzation of everything.  Over the years I have attempted to limit analysis as much as possible.  I frequently have to remind myself that not every word, not every action, not everything in life is an enigma that requires hours upon hours of unlocking of mysteries.  Instead I have tried to curb my brain’s need for information through other means such as learning new instruments, learning new languages, learning more about real mysteries and many other things that offer my mind a challenge.

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2 thoughts on “Analyzing the Analysis

  1. As always, very perceptive and thought-provoking. I’m afraid I am guilty of the same habit. I thought writing it all down might crystallise things, but it is so easy to revise and improve until, as you say, it is difficult to tell fact from fiction. Thank goodness I have someone who is more level-headed to keep me on the straight and narrow, though even then we disagree on some events!

    • I am always surprised at how different my memories of an event are from my husband’s memories of the event and then how drastically different they become after only a few years.

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