Over-thinking is exhausting. Getting stuck, unable to make a decision because we fear making the wrong choice, failure, judgement, a loss of some kind. These are all learned behaviors that are so deeply ingrained in us. Especially those of us who have suffered from anxiety. I would spin my tires for DAYS before making a decision on something even as simple as what picture to use for a facebook post. Procrastination can also be a sign, waiting until being FORCED to commit to a decision.
Have you considered the possibility that the recurrent thoughts, “monkey mind” and over-analysis are something done when we perceive a threat to our security and safety? We don’t fully trust ourselves.
According to the Neuroscience of Human Decision Making Through the Lens of Learning, a study was completed that gave two groups a set amount of choices and a fixed amount of time to make their decisions. Group One was given 6 choices and 1 week to make the decision. Group Two was given 2 choices and had to decide immediately. When they followed up in one month, Group Two was ultimately really happy with the decision they made. Group One was unhappy. What they found, is that when people have too much time to think about something, we start to involve our emotions (amygdala) and fear. The longer we take to make a decision, the more our fear is involved in that process. Fascinating right? Science actually backs how procrastination and over-analysis can be incredibly self-defeating.
Ultimately, there are outcomes to every decision we make. They are not good or bad, but our perceptions interpret them as such and give them meaning. After all, we are meaning making machines. What if you can step out of analysis-paralysis, set a short time frame (1 day, 1 hour, 15 minutes, etc), think about what choice most inspires you, what will enhance learning or experiences, and so forth. You will be more happy if you can commit to that choice and move forward.
This is a life long journey and I will tell you that as a recovering over-analysis, perfectionist. I now understand mine is rooted in fear and lack of (perceived) security. The beautiful thing is, with repetition and time, we can re-train those patterns in our brain. We can re-train the brain not to immediately go into over-thinking, but rather to decisiveness. Next time you see yourself going into that spiral, I challenge you to feel into which decision provides you with the most sense of peace. Over-analysis can cause you to lose that intuition and fast. But think back to your initial instinct when presented with those decisions and go there. Reflect on it later and tell me how it turns out! I promise this will release an inner knowing in you that you haven’t had around decision making. You may even find that the anxious tendencies improve with time.