Are You Being too Thorough in Your Work?


I don’t need to pick up every stone to have a full experience of them.

Here’s a Trap I’ve Been Caught In

I tend to be a very thorough person. I usually think of it as a good thing. But sometimes my thoroughness is a hindrance, not a help.

Here’s what it looks like when doing The Work.

Being too Thorough in Identifying Stressful Thoughts to Work

This happens when I spend too much time trying to find “the one” stressful thought underpinning them all. I can end up excavating forever, because there’s always another one just out of reach.

The balance in this case is for me to remember that any stressful thought can be a window into myself. There is no need to find the perfect thought to work. It’s much more valuable to pick any one in the vicinity and start going through the questions of The Work.

The Same Thing Can Happen Writing a Worksheet

Sometimes, I become so thorough in writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet that I have a mile of stressful thoughts lined up to work, and end up losing heart before I even begin to work them.

The solution to this for me is either to be satisfied with writing a little less on my worksheets, or to be satisfied with not working all of the statements that I write on my worksheet. Either way, I end up less intimidated by my “Work load,” and am more likely to complete my work.

Thoroughness Can even Show up when Doing The Work

I can get lost in any of the four questions to the extent that I never reach the turnarounds. This tends to happen most often in question 3 because there are several sub-questions there.

The temptation is to answer all of the sub-questions every time. Or to go into an overly analytic description of how I react in every detail. When I do this, I often lose the clear comparison of my answers in question 3 with my answers in question 4. And I can run out of time for the turnarounds.

This Is Fine as Long as I Pick up where I Left off Next Time

But if my work consists of mainly answering question 3, then it’s not the full balance of doing The Work.

The Work is identifying stressful thoughts, questioning them with all four questions, and then applying the turnarounds and finding examples for the turnarounds.

I Can Even Be too Thorough in the Turnarounds

This can look like straining to try to find three examples, instead giving it some time, looking for what I can find, and moving on if I don’t find more examples.

It’s all a balance. Too little thoroughness and I miss The Work. But too much thoroughness and I can also miss The Work.

Have a great week,

“Just notice when things are out of balance. You don’t have to figure it out. There’s a built-in signal that will always let you know: it’s called stress.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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