For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an overthinker. I once wore that characteristic about myself like a badge of honor. That I was gifted at perfect decision-making by believing that if my mind played through every possible scenario, the end result would be shock and awe with the best solution. That I was ready for whatever life tossed my way, and I wouldn’t ever be caught napping. Resources were preserved, and only those who needed to be involved were.
Years ago, I learned that not every brain is programmed this way (nor should it be). That it’s possible to be presented with an opportunity, make a decision, and then move on. Excuse me? No unpacking every detail from every viewpoint or second-guessing decisions long after they’ve happened? No thinking about it until you exhaust yourself with scenarios and then procrastinate on taking action because you’re paralyzed with “what if” fear? Who are these magical creatures who just make decisions as if the fate of the world does not hang in the balance?
In truth, as I advanced in my professional career, I felt like I had to keep my overthinking to myself – like a secret no one could know. Frequently, there seemed to be more time spent thinking than doing. I would quietly play through all the possible scenarios in my head, making a thoughtful, albeit, slow, decision before moving on to the next one. When I realized this was happening and that it was impacting my potential and productivity, I knew something had to change about how I managed my thinking.
Hacks from a former overthinker
Navigating the vast landscape of our minds can be a daunting task, especially when it’s teeming with wild thoughts, fears, paralytic habits, and doubts. These unwelcome intruders often gallop freely, causing chaos and clouding our clarity. But fear not, for I have found ways to tame this mental wilderness. So, saddle up as I share my personal strategies. When my unbridled thoughts start running wild with my fears and doubts, here’s what I do to wrangle my ruminating mind: