Many people seem very intelligent, competent, and talented; but when they are supposed to make a decision, they get stuck in overanalyzing and indecision. You know why? Because they fall into the trap of overthinking. They consider several possibilities before making a decision that makes them less effective; they find it very hard to take any action – this leads towards inaction. Of course, you must consider all options to find a better solution – how could it be possible to find a better solution without thinking about it. But it becomes disastrous when you think too much about every single decision.
Problem solving process also lets you consider all possible options but thinking about everything you don’t have any control over is overthinking. Overthinking disables you to reach a final decision. When you overthink you get stuck in a bad feeling about the situation or about yourself.
It’s not about the amount of time spent to think about something, it’s about being plagued with a constant barrage of thoughts all the time. Considering all available options, learning from previous experiences and managing to get creative solutions is not overthinking, it’s effective problem solving.
It’s better to take an action rather than having inaction and indecision but the trap of finding perfect decision disables us to make a decision.
So, what gets the genius guys stuck that they are not able to reach a decision? People who are not habitual to consider a lot of options find it easy to make a choice, they choose what seems obvious. And the case is totally opposite for really intelligent guys, they have many more options and they find it hard to choose from them. Those geniuses create a cause and effect pattern in their mind; what will happen if I go for it and what will happen If I go for something else, these cause and effects may bring more decisions to think about. They also make sure to research every possibility that provokes more questions and consequently a thinking pattern arises. This thinking pattern compels you to research more and a lot more things emerge to think about, this pattern continues and it’s not possible to reach a decision ever.
The thinking pattern in your mind is like a decision tree that you draw on a paper. Each option on a decision tree is weighted against the predicted probability so is the case with the thinking pattern of an over thinker, he has to weigh several options against the predictions – predictions are not certain so the over thinker gets trapped in this uncertainty and in turn gets stuck in indecision.
So, how to differentiate overthinking from productive thinking: When distressing events replay in your mind over and over again and you imagine disastrous consequences all the time every day then you may consider yourself to be an over-thinker as overthinking often involves ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Over-thinkers often rewind the past conversations they had with someone, reassess their past decisions most often and get worried about any possible disastrous outcome. They are not able to focus on what’s going on in the present just because of too much focus on past events or future threats. They spend too much time thinking about the hidden meaning behind the conversation of others and they often regret what they said and what they could not say at that moment. They constantly remind themselves of their mistakes and recall embarrassing moments in their mind again and again. If you are worried about things you don’t have control over and you can’t stop worrying even after trying hard then you are also an over-thinker.
Over-thinking may cause anxiety and depression. It’s often said that anxiety and depression cause overthinking – overthinking is both cause and effect of anxiety and depression. It adversely affects mental health. Today most people have mental health issues, they are not able to relax, they are not able to stop thinking – their brains don’t shut off. They can’t get out of the trap of thinking and regretting that their life could have been better if they would have done things differently.
So, how to get rid of this trap?
You can get rid of it by:
Practicing certain inner work practices like:
- Practice reflection: Practice reflection at the end of the day and anticipation at the start of the day. With reflection we visualize our way, this creates more intended consequences and we succeed to achieve something useful
- Have a sense of core values: Having a sense of core values, your vision and your purpose allows you to check whether they are in or out of alignment. Answer these questions to get a sense of your core values: what values drive you? What is your vision and what is the purpose that motivates you?
- Meditate: Meditation helps boost your happiness, health, productivity, creativity and self-control. Practice it regularly in order to control your thought patterns
- Practice gratitude: When people practice gratitude, they accept themselves the way they are. Over-thinking traps you when you remember embarrassing moments again and again and when you remind yourself of your mistakes. So when you practice gratitude you defeat these unpleasant thoughts
Give yourself time for thinking: Fixing a certain time for thinking is a great idea to get rid of the trap of over-thinking because this time will solely be allocated to thinking and you will not be engaged in anything else, you would have time for research, time for making decisions and time for taking action.
If you try to stop thinking to get out of the trap of over-thinking, it does not work at all. Instead of telling yourself to stop thinking about something, divert your attention to something else by changing your activity. When you will change your activity by engaging in something different, you will surely get out of the trap of negative thoughts.
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