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Overthinking kills our Opportunities

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Have you ever dreamt about a moment, made a countdown clock inside your head, imagined all the great things about a particular moment to then be exceptionally disappointed or lose confidence last minute and chicken out? I can most definitely say yes!

But I am also a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. One momentous decision can change our whole life direction, I can look back on times where I’ve chosen one route and it’s led me to the woman I am today, but often wonder what would have happened if I choose the other route. But, I am very happy with my life, proud of the woman I’ve become, so good or bad decisions- ultimately, they lead me to become the version of myself today, and the decisions to come will determine the version I will become as I grow.

Overthinking decisions, or opportunities, can be both positive and negative; many rush into decisions, others will lose those opportunities as they worried to much. There is a fine line, between being assertive and decisive and over complicating situations. We could apply a scale to these moments, whereby we ask ourselves will this change my life significantly? 1-10, 10 being yes wholly, 1 very little. Give yourself longer for the life changing decision, and be sharper on the smaller things.

Another point to note here is committing to your decision once you’ve decided. Have confidence that the choice you made is one of many, but that regardless of the scenario you face, you will be able to make the best of it. Most of the time we overthink the simplest of situations simply because either missing out on something better, or that we are deciding on something we won’t be able to undo.

These are both valid reasons for overthinking. But they will also limit our growth. If we continue to stick to what we know then we’ll only get the same results, in order to grow as individuals we need to learn and evolve to new stimulus and situations, and most of the time we over achieve and wonder why we questioned ourselves in the first place.

An old coach of mine was said ‘the obstacle in front of you is like a mountain, you are climbing this mountain, aiming to reach the peak. The climb takes forever, and you continuously look up at how far you still have to go. But you forget, to occasionally turn around and see how far you’ve come.’ It has always stuck with me, as I’ve studied for my degrees, or as I’ve entered into a 4 year Paralympic cycle. So I built a habit; to every once in a while stop and think about all the accomplishments, no matter how big or small. It provides me with a sense of confidence and recharges me to keep pushing forward. And to challenge myself, otherwise I won’t progress much further up my mountain.

Another growth habit I started, is a Colombian NYE’s tradition, my housemate Camila, is Colombian and introduced me to this. Every NYE before midnight, write down twelve things you’d like to change/do the following year. I keep them in my purse and every NYE I tick off the ones I complete the year before, and I set new ones for the year to come. Growth mindset to keep pushing to be better, for no one other than myself.

Overthinking is a self-detrimental tool, it limits us more often than it helps us. So how can we channel our thought patterns to lessen overthinking?

  • Stop contradicting our thoughts. We conjure 101 potential possibilities, and number 102 happens! We cannot control the outcome of most choices, but we can control our thought processes.
  • Create the clearest path. Identify when you are overthinking. Apply the likelihood scale. And actively decide to think about something positive and precise.
  • The past is the past. What happened previously will not happen again, you learnt from it. So let go of the past. Recreate this choice, and opportunity as you see it happening.
  • Write in a journal. Create space for clarity in your mind. Unclog the mess. If I have a tough decision, grab a piece of paper, a pen and write down the pro’s and con’s on each side.  Out of your head for you to visually assess. Then make an informed decision.
  • Sleep on it. Make a decision with adequate time. And then try to relax or sleep a night on it. When we sleep our subconscious mind allows for thought processing, absorption of information, and usually we are less emotional and dramatic after getting a restful nights sleep.
  • Other peoples opinions. Its great to get advice, but ultimately everyone thinks differently and has different limits. So value their thoughts but don’t let them decide for you- only you know what’s best for you.

Often it is the simplest things that can stress us out the most, and we over complicate things, we conjure unnecessary scenarios, and we need to learn to Be in Control of our thoughts. Reappraise all the times we’ve felt similar and look at what outcome happened. Be a thinker, its healthy, but control how cautious or how optimistic you are- find a balanced thought process for you, not anyone else but you.  

 

1 comment

  • What a great post. Overthinking things something I used to do and caused me to miss out on opportunities that I would later regret. As I’ve got older, it’s something I’ve realised that by taking control has allowed me to be much happier and not be worried by other people’s opinions which can hold you back. As senior leader in a primary school and a teacher, having children believe they can achieve great things if they have a positive mindset of giving it a go, and if we fail then what is it we take from it to move forward. I love the idea of the Columbia NYE tradition and will give it a go. I do a similar thing with children I teach at the start of the year writing things we’d like to achieve in envelopes and hanging them around the classroom as a reminder throughout the year, then open them in July to remind them of how far they have come. Thanks for the great blog! Tim

    Tim Dale

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