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Analysis Paralysis

Florence reached out to Elder Wisdom Circle in mental anguish. She expressed that she was suffering from constantly overthinking. She would cry over little things, and put way too much pressure on herself. In her words, she would torture herself with harmful thoughts, and felt she had no better way of managing her stress. She wondered if she was depressed, or just overwhelmed with stress.

Elder KMF wrote back to Florence with compassion and thoughtfulness. As someone who also had a habit of overthinking, the Elder said that her thoughts ceased being constructive when she found herself in a state of “analysis paralysis.” The Elder asked Florence if this was familiar to her. KMF encouraged Florence to write back and provide more information, as her letter had been somewhat brief. But KMF wondered, did Florence truly feel depressed? If she was suffering from symptoms of depression, she said, only a doctor could help to diagnose her. In the meantime, Florence should, the Elder advised, read an article the Elder shared on healthy mindfulness, and write back to share more on her experience so that the Elder might be of more help to her.

After receiving the Elder’s letter, Florence wrote in to share how grateful she felt for KMF’s advice. Having stumbled upon EWC while searching for help online, Florence was happy to discover a positive outlet for her expressing her concerns. From the Elder’s advice, she learned to find something to divert her attention from whatever she might be overthinking, and felt encouraged by the fact that the Elder wished for her wellness. Unfortunately, before she found EWC, she had been treated by friends like she was overreacting. But after having her exchange with KMF, she felt as though she was building herself back up, and felt much happier.

I shared Florence’s feedback with Elder KMF, and the Elder offered her thoughts on her experience as an Elder. She said that she originally had come across EWC while searching for volunteer opportunities online, and felt that EWC was the perfect match for her. There were two things in her life that made her comfortable claiming the title of “Elder”: The first was knowing a woman named Mary who volunteered at the hospital at which she worked for 15 years. “No job was too small for her,” KMF said of Mary. The second was her experience becoming a grandmother, and the deep and special connection she shared with her grandchildren. On top of that, as a 70-year-old, KMF commented that the good and bad choices she’d made as a young person had helped her to grow into someone who could help others. Upon reading Florence’s letter, the Elder related strongly, and was compelled to share with Florence how she’d learned to manage her overthinking over time, from her experience organizing her thoughts at work, which helped with her practical decision-making. Ultimately, the Elder was honored that her advice had made an impact on Florence’s life.

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