Doing Life Together

work-2005640_1280I had a boss who would overthink every decision. Our office moved at the speed of molasses because of this. He had to look at every possible angle of every decision that was made. It drove us all crazy. He would ruminate on decisions and become obsessed with persistent thoughts about a situation. He simply couldn’t manage his overthinking. Then, he would second guess his decisions.

Now it is OK to overthink a decision now and then, but when it becomes a pattern and slows you or others down, you want to make some changes. Basically, when you are caught in an overthinking cycle, your feeling part of your brain is hijacking the thinking part. Stress takes over and you can’t think. You become focused on the worrisome possibilities of making a mistake.

When that happens, distract yourself. Look out your window, focus on the lamp in the room, think of counting in another language, etc. This will help reengage the thinking part of the brain. Then turn your attention to the facts of the decision and make a pros and cons list. At some point, you have to go with your best guess or idea. But focus on problem-solving.

Then ask yourself, what is at the basis of my overthinking? Does it have anything to do with the need for control? The answer is, “Probably yes!” Yet, all the overthinking that is aimed at gaining control makes you feel out of control. The more you overanalyze, the more indecisive you become and the more stress builds up.

The fix for this is to recognize where you have control and where you do not. At some point, the hope is to reach acceptance. You can’t control all parts of every decision. You can do your best with what is in your control. Then move your thoughts away from the decision to other things.

If you still struggle letting go of overthinking, set a time limit on thinking about the issue. Give yourself a specific time frame and then practice moving on and don’t look back unless you need to de-brief the decision to make changes for the future.

Like any change, practice the steps to change overthinking–engage the thinking part of the brain through distraction, problem-solve, decide and move on!





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