Before I share those tips, allow me to share with you my most recent excursion in overthinking. I spent the last few months working on a new marketing plan for my business. I have been doing a lot of things behind the scenes to grow my business. Growth requires decisions.
It also means that I have spent many days and nights overthinking certain decisions. For example, I spent a full 30 days, yes, a full month trying to decide if I should narrow my niche. The type of clients I usually attract are women in leadership who are faith and family focused. No matter the industry, I attract women who know it is there call to be in leadership in their for profit or non-profit work place. They seek to answer their call without sacrificing their faith or their family (fur babies included).
It seemed very evident that by targeting that type of client, I could better serve her. I could better tailor my message to reach her. And I would get the most enjoyment out of helping her.
But it seemed simple enough but it wasn't. My overthinking mind began to spiral out of control.
...if I focus on women in leadership will people think I am a femi-nazi?
...if I focus on women of faith will I alienate those who don't profess a faith?
...if I focus on building my coaching business will I miss opportunities to sell my training programs?
Have you ever gone through a similar process of questioning and re-questioning yourself until your head hurts, your heart is heavy, and you just want to crawl under the covers and not come out?
The problem with overthinking is that we can't recognize its debilitating effects on us. One University of Michigan psychology professor found that overthinking in women leads to depression, the inability to move forward, and poor emotional health.
We erroneously think that we are doing our "due diligence" by thinking a thing to death. But we aren't.
Overthinking magnifies a problem so much that the solution is nearly impossible to see. TWEET
I was stuck for a month on this decision. Then I implemented these 5 steps to get out of my rut.
5 Ways to STOP over-thinking
If you tend to overthink, once you get in the habit it is hard to get out. Distractions are a great way to change your perspective. We tend to think that we have to trudge through the muck and mire of mental clutter until we come out on the other side. That's not true. The longer we walk in the mental clutter, the longer we stay, and the deeper we sink.
Distract yourself. Change locations. Go for a walk with someone and don't talk about your decision. I find being in nature helps me simply.
Think about what could go well
Overthinking is a form of worry. Do you usually worry about what can go well?No! We worry about the bad stuff. The unknown, the fearful, the frightening things. Force yourself to think about what could go well.
What life changing, God-honoring, destiny-fulfilling change could happen as a result of this decision? What benefit will it bring to you? Your work? Your family? Your calling? The answers to those questions will lift your spirits
The result of overthinking is inaction. I read somewhere (wish I could find it to give him or her proper credit) that overthinking is a habit that is probably formed as a defense mechanism to the possibility of failing. In other words, it is a delay tactic.
Making decisions quickly is a skill set that every leader needs to be comfortable executing. If your like me, there are some decision you have no problem making quickly. Then there are others that challenge you. So in order to avoid the supposed negative consequence, you delay.
Acting immediately will put an end to the overthinking downward spiral. Make a decision based on the best information you have, based on your core values, and your organizations mission. Then let it go. Determine to learn from whatever happens next.
Don't be a victim of your thoughts. Just because you thought it, doesn't mean you have to own it. One scripture says that we have the ability to take thoughts captive and make them obedient. Image a negative thought comes in, you put that thought in a "holding cell". You examine it to see if it should be allowed into your precious thought space. If found wanting, you turn it away. If found favorable, you let it in.
You can talk back to the thoughts you have to remind yourself that they aren't automatically accepting them.
You've heard the term "Can't see the forest for the trees". It means you are so consumed by the details that you can not see the bigger picture. This is a sure sign that you are overthinking. When that happens, it is best to get help.
Seek out a person, like a coach, to help you find your way back. Notice I didn't say seek out a friend. A friend is more apt to tell you what you should do. They'll see you in "pain" and want to help alleviate it as quickly as possible. While it might be tempting to take the proffered advice, it will only increase your anxiety...because you'll overthink whether you should have taken said advice.
A good coach is skilled at helping you find your own way and giving the tolls so that if you go there again, you can find your way out.
Let yourself off the hook. Overthinking is a habit and it can be changed. It takes effort but it can be done. I did every single one of these steps to help me. Some of the steps I had to do repeatedly. But now I have a process I can use to help me overcome ovethinking.
What do you do to stop yourself from overthinking?
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