Tuesday
Apr102018

OVERTHINKING: CHANGING A RIGHT ANSWER TO A WRONG ANSWER?

I wonder if most of us have had the experience of changing an answer on a test and finding out that we changed a right answer to a wrong anwer.  It is actually hard for some people to stop doing this as they feel that they have the correct answer after thinking about the question for a period of time.  So, why would anyone reject their first answer [first impression?] and instead change it?

Maybe this is influenced by our brain's being organized so that it will provide us with a response to something when we need it. It appears that information is stored in a way that what we need to know is there but not how we got to that place. There is no paper trail of the process of our learning something. Presumably this is because it is efficient to store just the answers and not all the steps it took to get there. Also, when we need an answer [or information] our brain will give it to us if we actually need it.  So, if we are quizing our brain [ourselves obviously] to recall something to reassure ourselves that we actually know it, our brain will not provide it [because we actually don't need it?].

So what does all this have to do with changing right answers to wrong answers? Well, what so many of my patients have made clear is that if they are feeling stressed, their brains will automatically focus on trying to figure out what is causing our stress and if we cope with stress by over thinking then that will take over and we will doubt that our initial answer is correct. When we have had traumatic experiences in the past, second guessing ourseslves and overthinking are very common ways that we learn to cope as these help us to believe that by doing this we are being careful, not making sudden decisions, and we are considering other's opinions. All of this reasurres us that we are keeping things from getting out of control, and thus we believe that we are changing wrong to right answers. Since overthinking and second guessing are ways that we cope with past stresses, it really is not actually about changing wrong to right answers, but it is about continuing to use coping mechansms that we no longer need as they are left over from past stresses. What do you think?

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