Resolve It to Solve It! Three Approaches to Over-Thinking

by | Apr 10, 2016

corbis_rf_photo_of_dog_chasing_tailAround and around you go…Your mind whizzes and churns. What if this? What if that? You feel like a dog chasing its tail.  The culprit is over-thinking.  Over-thinking wastes time, money and energy. If you don’t have any of those to spare, then let’s look at three approaches to over-thinking: two that don’t work and one that does.

  1. Procrastination. When you procrastinate long enough the decision becomes moot. The opportunity passes by or someone else steps in to make the decision. In the end, you simply don’t decide as a result of procrastination, hesitation, and excuse making. It may be paralysis by analysis but it is paralysis for sure.  This is a way to handle over-thinking but not in a productive way.
  2. Frustration. When you become so frustrated and exhausted by the non-stop internal debate you may finally force a decision. “Enough already! I’ll just decide on something and move on.” This too, is a way to handle over-thinking and there’s a chance the decision you pick may work. But it’s a roll of the dice.
  3. Resolution. When you work through the source of over-thinking to resolve it you have the best chance at an astute decision.  Let’s go a little deeper.

Notice that in all three cases, there’s a nagging feeling that gets in the way of your decision-making.  After all, if you were comfortable with the decision, you’d make it.  Something holds you back as you squirm in the chair and your gut churns with anxiety.  Pay attention to that feeling. Ask, why am I hesitating? Why am I uncomfortable? Let the answers come from your gut. You are likely to find one or more of the many kinds of fear. Fear of making the wrong decision, fear of standing out, fear of being over-looked, or fear of being left out. In many situations, simply recognizing and understanding the fear is enough to work through over-thinking.  Then ask, “If I let go of that fear, what am I now freed up to do?”  Probably, you will be free enough to make a wise decision.  This type of decision-making is more likely to serve you well as it frees you from constraints that would otherwise hold you back or push you into an unproductive decision.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of work.” It is …the first time.  What we find is that the same fear comes up again and again. Work through it once and it becomes much easier the next time. After a couple of tries you will likely identify the source of over-thinking and say to yourself, “Ah-ha. There’s the culprit again!”

Any way you look at it, you have to resolve the feeling to solve the problem. Then you won’t be chasing your tail.  If you’re not chasing your tail, what will you be freed up to do?  That’s an exciting thought!


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Author Byline: Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders, Shelley Row P.E. CSP, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speakers. Professional engineer and former senior executive, she was recognized as one of the best minds in advanced traffic management systems.

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