We all know it. We all do it. We all overthink. Not only our major life decisions but also the little things we experience every day. We all know we shouldn’t do it, yet rarely anyone steers clear of it. Luckily, there are ways how you can combat it.
Overthinking: The art of creating new problems out of ones that never existed in the first place. — Anonymous
The quality of your decisions determines the quality of your life. Therefore, thinking strategically about where you are and where you want to go is tremendously important. We all have the same 24 hours in our day and the way we spent these hours makes the difference in how successful (measured by any means) our life will be. And the way we allocate our hours in the day is determined by the level of strategic thinking we apply to our own lives. Hence, thinking in the form of reflecting and evaluating the path you’re taking is a key determinant for the quality of the life you live. You should think about your life and act accordingly.
Although thinking is immensely important, it poses a dangerous threat at the same time. As humans, we tend to think too much about things that don’t matter in the long run. We fall into the trap of overthinking. And when thinking gets in the way of action, it is a self-induced obstacle that makes it hard for us to do the things that we should be doing. When we overthink, we delay important actions with the promise of acting in the future only to overthink again and keep delaying until it is too late. Essentially, overthinking keeps us from living our dream.
Overthinking manifests itself in different areas of our life. However, nearly every kind of overthinking can be traced back to one simple root: Our inner seek for approval. The moment we place more importance on the way other people look at us over the way we look at ourselves, we fall victim to overthinking. You start to justify every action based on how people will view you. Your mind starts to race and you become anxious about how other people will view you. With this mechanism, you quickly start to optimize your decision-making for minimising the risk of being judged. The effect? You overthink everything in your life. And this becomes the biggest obstacle that keeps you from the things you truly enjoy you dare to take action.
Despite overthinking being a challenging obstacle to overcome and a dangerous barrier for you to take action, there are ways to overcome the trap of overthinking.
We will all die one day. As mentioned, most types of overthinking are rooted in the fear of judgment from the people around us. But will this matter in the long run? Like it or not, we all die one day. Caring about what other people think about you will not matter if you consider that we are all born to die. Why should you care?
Whose approval are you seeking? You are the most important person in your life. Hence, self-respect is more exigent than approval from peers. Impress yourself rather than someone who most likely doesn’t care anyways.
Listen to your gut. Our intuition is a gift. It’s hard for us to imagine what our subconscious mind is capable of. Our intuition (aka gut feeling) is astonishingly powerful. Meanwhile, this is the most promising way to overcome overthinking. Just listen to your gut. What does this decision feel like? Visualize your future self and listen carefully to your gut feeling. More often than not, this is the best way to make decisions.
Everything is fixable. Another key-driver for overthinking is our inherent fear of failure. Of course, no one wants to fail. That’s why we theorize about all eventualities only to make up reasons why something will not work. Wrong. You need to be a calculated optimist. Only in that way you can shape the world. What could really go wrong? Almost everything is fixable, meaning that failure is not devastating. The worst case is usually not as bad as your overthinking mind is making it. Start doing, and figure out how to fix it later on.
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