Local tribes in Zimbabwe have a phrase that perfectly sums up most modern psychological issues. It is the word kufungisisa , which could literally be translated as “ overthinking ”. Whether it is on the problems of current life or on the traumatic events of the past.
The Shona , one of the ethnic groups in this region, see this tendency to dwell on things as a cause of unease. The problem physical and psychological th are attributed to this behavior. The natives of these regions consider, for example, that thinking too much can cause depression or anxiety. As well as other diseases related to the body, such as fatigue or headaches.
However, is this concept of kufungisisa true? Can overthinking cause us problems? This is what we will see in the context of this article.
Kufungisisa or when overthinking is detrimental to us
Man has always been proud of his ability to think. Unlike other animals, who are guided by their instincts, we can think about what is happening to us. This ability is a double-edged sword, however.
Other species don’t have the ability to feel as bad as we do. And, as counterintuitive as it may sound, it is precisely our capacity for thinking that gives us all kinds of problems.
The Shona tribe is not the only group that has highlighted this through their concept of kufungisisa . L has basic modern psychology lies precisely in this idea. With the emergence of cognitive science, the study of the mind has revealed that we feel bad not because of what happens to us, but because of what we think and how we react.
Albert Ellis, father of rational emotional therapy, was very clear about this. What affects us is not what happens to us, but what we tell ourselves about what is happening to us . How is it possible, however, that our minds make us feel bad?
Understanding the role of our brain
Humans operate in an extremely hostile environment. Even though we live in a setting of abundance today , our brains still behave as if we were in the Paleolithic. So many of our mental functions today have become obsolete.
One of them is the way we handle information. He fl is essential to our ancestors, who were surrounded by dangers, noting all the negative and dangerous to their lives. Only then could they defend themselves against wild animals, resolve the lack of food, or find refuge when necessary.
Our brains continue to do this because of the way evolution works. The Reticular Activation System (SAR) is responsible for drawing our attention to anything that can go wrong. So we tend to focus on the negative.
As the Shonas knew when they described the idea of kufungisisa , seeing the world as something hostile makes us feel bad. Too much rehashing causes us to worry excessively, to waste time and to plunge into unease.
How to stop overthinking
The role of thought in our well-being is so important that almost all psychological therapy focuses on changing the way we see the world. So there are basically two approaches that have been handed down to us for thousands of years:
- Change what we say about what happens to us.
- Live in the present.
Let’s see each of them.
1- Modify our thoughts
The first response to the discomfort caused by overthinking is simply to change what we say to ourselves. Currents such as Stoicism consider that what happens to us is hardly ever important. Modern cognitive psychology uses this idea to teach us to view things with more perspective.
According to these currents, almost nothing that happens is truly terrible. If we keep this idea in mind, much of our discomfort will dissolve. Worrying would therefore make no sense. We can be okay no matter what.
2- live the present
Ancient philosophies such as Buddhism and modern trends such as mindfulness are based on the same idea. The basis of suffering is thought. It is the same concept present in kufungisisa . All thinkers who follow these ways of seeing the world consider silencing our minds to be the key.
This is obviously not easy. However, practices such as meditation or yoga can help us achieve this. Science has shown that silencing our minds have very beneficial effects on our physical and mental health.
The idea of kufungisisa, which considers that thinking too much generates discomfort, is therefore shared by almost all cultures in history. We can all learn to avoid this problem with a minimum of effort. However, do not hesitate to contact a professional psychologist if you think you need help. His advice will make it easier for you to follow the path to your mental freedom.