When it comes to making decisions, are you the type to take quick action or do you tend to mull things over?
Taking time to think things through when we’re making major choices is important, but it’s just as important not to overthink everything. Too much internal processing can lead to “analysis paralysis” and keep us from moving forward in life.
If you find yourself obsessing over even small problems that require a decision, you might be suffering from analysis paralysis. Here are a few tips to get you unstuck!
1. Identify the problem.
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What’s the difference between weighing your options, which is a good thing when it comes to making decisions, and overthinking? Basically, if you have examined the pros and cons of a situation and still can’t decide, and if you’re now trapped in a negative spiral of thoughts, you have probably moved beyond uncertainty to “paralysis.”
2. Figure out what’s making you feel paralyzed.
Are you overthinking every decision, even small ones like what to wear or watch? Try to identify what you’re afraid of if you make the wrong decision. Do you fear being judged by others? Have you made a wrong choice before that you worry about repeating?
Understanding why you struggle with making decisions is another good step toward fixing the problem.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Practice being more decisive with things that won’t have lasting consequences. It might feel scary at first, but it will train your brain to stress less about the nuances of every choice.
For everyday decisions like what to watch on TV or what to have for lunch, don’t waste time pondering it — just go with the first thing that sounds good and see what happens!
4. Don’t get obsessed.
We know that’s easier said than done, but it’s important not to let the decision take over your life. Stress and anxiety cause real physical reactions in the body that can upset your stomach and lead to high blood pressure and even panic attacks.
Instead of letting those feelings take control, schedule some time each day when you can devote your full attention to considering the decision at hand. Set a time limit and stick to it!
5. Trust yourself.
Maybe you’ve made a wrong choice in past situations and now you’re worried you’ll do it again. Try to think positively. You definitely learned from it, so trust yourself to make better decisions this time around.
Remind yourself of all the times when you made the right decision (even something as typical as waking up to go to work), and give yourself all the pep talks you need to remember that even if things go wrong, you’ll still be OK.
6. Listen to your gut.
Sometimes your body knows what to do before your brain does! Try to pick up on those little physical cues your body is always sending. Does one option make your stomach clench or your back tighten? That’s your body’s way of telling you to proceed with caution.
Weighing facts is important, but don’t leave out how the choices make you feel.
7. Accept what you cannot change.
Not every decision is going to end well. We don’t have a crystal ball, so no matter how much we envision different scenarios, we cannot see into the future. At a certain point, we have to accept that whatever will be, will be.
Your brain may want you to obsess, but doing so won’t guarantee a happy result. So why do it? Try practicing mindfulness, doing yoga, or learning how to meditate instead.
8. End the cycle of worry.
Analysis paralysis often means running through the same thoughts over and over in your head. When you allow yourself to do this, you’re causing yourself undue stress. Next time you find yourself ruminating, set the problem aside and do something you enjoy.
Sometimes our brains work better when we’re distracted by a TV show or a good crossword puzzle. The solution might come to you without any effort at all!
If you’re still struggling with overanalyzing every decision to the point of analysis paralysis, it’s a good idea to seek support from a certified therapist. They can help you work through these issues and free yourself from the endless cycle of worry.
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