How to stop overthinking and start deciding
I have the tendency to over-analyze
Mainly when I am tired. Or when I have a big decision to make. Oh men, I feel like a hamster running the same wheel over and over again. It goes like this. I wake up in the morning. I am thinking about the situation. During the day the thoughts are nagging in the back of my mind. Something like: ''Should I...? Am I supposed to...? Rationally I know that, but... This is a pro and that is a con. What to do? I don't know.'' I go to sleep. And I didn't reach a decision. Next day: the thoughts are repeating themselves all over again.
Snap out of it!
There is nothing wrong with gathering your thoughts to reach a decision. But I notice a difference between overthinking and constructive decision making. The overthinking doesn't get me anywhere. Because it is taking time. And it is demotivating. It affects my mood. Dutch psychologist Albert Sonnevelt says: loose ends are energy drainers. I really resonate with that. So when I notice I am overthinking I say to myself: 'Snap out of it!'
Alright, I snapped out of it, now what? (By the way, that sounds super easy now. But it often takes me a bit of time to get there. I already wasted some time on the over-analyzing before I become aware. But I am getting better at compared to the past). I know ignoring the situation doesn't work. Believe me, I tried. Just neglecting the problem. Pushing it away. Working hard and not thinking about it. 'Snap out of it' and ignore it for ever. But that never helps. Every time the subject, including the negative feelings, come back like a boomerang. F*ck. What does work instead?
There is something bugging you. You have a hard time to decide. Something feels like a difficult situation. Now it's time to take that problem seriously. And to explore: what is really going on here?
Accept you have a problem. Maybe you feel like this: 'Why do I have such a hard time with this, I know rationally what I should do, this is so annoying, I am a loser?' I notice it helps when I start accepting that I feel stuck. To accept that I have a hard time. And to embrace that that is okay. Everybody has this once in a while! That thought helps to stop suppressing the problem and start facing it.
Take time. But really, take time this time. To reflect. Grab a chair. Sit your ass down. Take for example 30 minutes to explore what is really going on here.
Do a braindump. That means you write down everything that is on your mind. Without analyzing it. Without trying to solve it. Just writing down all these messy feelings and thoughts. Write it down like you would say it and without a pause. This often brings relief and new insights.
Allow emotions. When I feel stuck, there is often emotions beneath it. I am afraid of something. Or I feel sad. I try to connect with what is really going on. And when I feel the emotion, I often feel relieved. 'Ah! This is what's going on!' Like a baby who needs to burp. When that is done, the crying is over. And when I see my emotions and my thoughts, I see the whole picture. Then I can see clearly and make a decision.
As a coach I help young professionals who feel stuck. I guide them with several exercises to explore what they really want. That helps to make decisions! I apply these exercises myself when I need them. I learned these tools from other coaches. I find it so valuable to have them in my toolbox.
Maybe you feel stuck at the moment. In a situation that feels hard to decide. And the reality is that probably reading a blog is not the whole solution. And that is understandable. Because it is still theory. For me, it really helped to experience these tools live, under the guidance of a coach. Only then I really could take them away for future situations. In case you want help with that, feel free to drop a line. I would love to help you stop overthinking and start deciding. You can book a chat here: