It is so easy to over-think things. It’s seems so logical that constantly re-thinking or re-hashing issues in our lives would ultimately lead to the very best decisions. The reality, however, is that we risk driving ourselves crazy in the process—at which point our decision-making skills are less rooted in rational thought and instead weighted down by conjecture, fear of the unknown, or an irrational belief that we can control outcomes we really can’t.
Imagine, for example, you’ve been offered a position at another company and can’t decide whether or not to take it. You’re so stuck analyzing every angle you can hardly see the forest for the trees, and eventually you’re convinced that either choice you make is potentially disastrous.
What if letting go of the over-thinking habit freed up valuable brain space that could be channeled into greater productivity, enjoying time with loved ones and simply living in the moment?
It can. A few simple tips:
1) Realize there is no perfect answer—only trade offs. In the example of deciding whether to accept or decline a new job offer—or any important decision about your life, for that matter—sit down in a quiet place and write down the pros and cons of each. If you need more information, ask for it—and then you have to decide what is the best scenario for you given the information you have today. Once you’ve chosen, now it’s time to think positive thoughts about your future rather than fall back into second-guessing!
2) Stop assuming. You’re not a mind reader. Projecting meaning into an otherwise meaningless scenario can only lead to loads of disappointment. Example: You sent an email to a girlfriend about upcoming weekend plans and she hasn’t responded for 1, 2, going on 3 days. Why isn’t she emailing me back, you wonder, before coming up with 50 possible reasons why she wouldn’t return your email. Maybe she’s mad at me. She doesn’t want me to go. I must have said something that annoyed her. On the morning of day 4, your friend emails you and profusely apologizes for not getting back to you earlier because she was swamped at work this week…but she can’t wait to see you this weekend. It just goes to show, you know what you know, and everything else is just conjecture. It’s not productive.
3) Get into your life. Taking life one day at a time gives you the opportunity to really enjoy each moment. It does take practice and some intentionality. If you get stuck on a particular concern, decision or speculation that has your mind going in circles, and still can’t let it go…set a timer for 10 minutes and over-think it to your heart’s content. Once that timer dings, get back to your day.
If you think you’re a chronic over-thinker who feels stuck in these patterns, there are strategies that can help. Come on in and we can talk about it to get you headed back on track to living more confidently in the present.