Our life is filled with questions. What should we buy when we go to the store? We haven’t the first idea, and we start pondering – but how long should we? If minutes elapse and we are still at sea, it is definitely not good. Some of the questions are overwhelming, and it’s perfectly all right to turn them over in your mind for quite a long time, but in other cases, you feel that a decision ought to come to your mind much more quickly. Yet sudden doubts start to set in, no way to get rid of them… But there are ways to stop overthinking decisions.
Why you’re overthinking decisions
Consider overthinking as a state of mental confusion when every piece of reasoning just increases doubt. Really, it is just a tricky way of procrastination, you lose precious time.
It may be that your brain got into a habit of piling up considerations which leads to confusion. Confusions can feel safe because they eliminate risks involved in decision-taking. The brain is now satisfied that you are safe.
The brain may hold it that if you try out new things they may be dangerous, literally life-threatening. Your brain is quite primitive at times and may well want you to stay on your familiar territory without opening up new vistas. Such an attitude definitely bodes no progress, no civilization.
On the one hand, it shows that the brain is functioning as it should be. You can’t be complaining it points you in the direction it regards as safe.
Why it’s important to make decisions
Once you have subscribed to the primitive considerations of your brain you will find yourself revolving in the vicious circle of overthinking. To break out of it you have to take a firm decision. By putting your faith in your decisions you annihilate confusion.
People who manage to make decisions quickly and resolutely invest into their future. Our future is shaped by our ability to decide and our inability to decide alike; but when you are adept at deciding you have more control over your life. Also, you save up a lot of time. So, how to finally move forward?
Be clear about your desired outcome
You have a certain goal; are you sure you picture it in detail and know what exactly you are going to end up with?
Confess to yourself when you find yourself stuck
If you already have acquired the habit of overthinking you may have stopped to notice it at all. Begin with understanding when you get stuck in the process of deciding and re-deciding, feel how time slips away uselessly.
As you realize you keep turning considerations over and over in your mind without arriving at a decision, explain yourself that you are being counterproductive. Your thinking must result in a particular opinion and not just reason away until the situation gets stale.
Problems are for you to sort them out
Turning issues over and over in your mind is fruitful only if it leads to working them out. Define how much control you have over the situation, what exactly you can do to lessen the impact, make yourself think of several different ways to tackle the issue.
Are you facing a situation totally beyond your control? All the same, there can be a number of strategies you can work out and employ. You know you need to put in the effort and take some measures – concentrate on that.
Identify your fears
What is the worst thing that could happen if you make the wrong decision? What are you afraid of? Write it down and then think how you would deal with this worst-case scenario. Visualize it. If you choose the wrong job, will you be able to start a new one? How will your act in this situation? Knowing there are solutions will help you make a decision and take it easy.
Check your way of thinking
Negative thoughts are apt to take over and influence your logic. If you catch yourself believing that the slightest blunder can lead to your being sacked and left without income, maybe you have allowed negativity to rule your thinking processes and now it has become difficult to get out from under.
If such is the case, you don’t observe your situation as it is. Go through all the circumstances again, reconsider them. Have you got any definite proof of the feared negative outcome? Is there any evidence to the contrary? What sort of evidence is stronger?
Introduce breaks from thinking
As thinking keeps running on and on, it may be advisable to simply make it halt. It is especially beneficial when you feel you have been browsing for too long. If you have troubled sleep, forbid yourself pondering over difficult issues late in the evening.
To the contrary, allot a period of time for pondering. Set aside some half an hour during which you give yourself over to thinking, worrying, turning things over in your mind, anything. Try to solidify your opinions on current topics. If you catch yourself at overthinking, stop, allot some other time to get back to your issues at hand and switch on to other current activities.
Channel yourself differently
One cannot always stop yourself from thinking effectively. Sometimes if you are trying hard to escape from some though or consideration, it comes back and challenges to chase it away.
It will be worth your while to re-channel your brain into a different activity. Go to the gym, discuss some point that needs discussing, and engross yourself in pursuing an important project. This way, you can dispel negative opinions quite efficiently.
Make sure you don’t struggle with a lot of choices
Sometimes an issue offers so many choices that they flood you. Then you can cut down on the number of choices before you decide (especially if the issue is not so crucial). As soon as you have a limited quantity of choices you avoid over-anxiety and take quicker decisions freeing your mind for further considerations.
With difficult decisions, work with deadlines
You don’t often have as much time as you want, so why not decide about a deadline for making each particular decision? Abide by that and be firm about it.
Comparisons get you nowhere
You have absolutely no reason to go comparing your decisions to the next man’s. Your friend may have boasted that he secured a better deal. It may be quite annoying – but what of it? You did what you could, it doesn’t mean that you lost out. Life is not over yet!
Remember that no decision is perfect
You are at this particular moment with the particular information at your disposal; you take the decision that seems fine to you. Actually, no perfect decision ever existed, so you cannot know in advance what decision will meet all the particulars of the case in hand.
Keep in mind the possibility of changing your decision
Actually, doubts about making the really right choice are always in order – no perfect decisions, remember? Have the courage to face the failure, acknowledge a mistake and re-shape your future. You owe it to yourself!
What feeds overthinking is the belief that you are able to take impeccable decisions that will suit the issue perfectly and will need no alterations and adaptations. Now it is a very tall order! You would do better retaining your inner comfort, acknowledging that situations are complex and badly predictable, and you are doing fairly well at the best of your abilities.