Analysis = Paralysis! Combat Your Overthinking & Manage Your Anxiety!
Every day, we are faced with different situations that require us to make different decisions. From small decisions to big ones, sometimes we make decisions without thinking about them at all – such as the mug of coffee you decided to have this morning before you left for work. Sometimes, decisions require you to think before you make them. For instance, you don’t enjoy the work you do in the office. You can either speak to your boss and understand if there is any way you could work on something you are more inclined towards, or you could seek a new job elsewhere.
Today, decision making has become easier with a vast resource of information available at our fingertips. If you were to evaluate the pros and cons of changing your job, you would scour through different websites; ask questions on forums; read through people’s experiences – you can find all the information you need to be able to make a decision.
You can’t make big decisions on a whim! You have to spend an adequate amount of time thinking about it before you finally pick your course of action – but how much time is too much time?
When faced with big decisions, do you end up thinking about them so much that sometimes you end up reaching a dead-end and don’t even end up making a choice? We have all been guilty of over-analyzing and over-thinking a situation so much that we end up not taking a decision at all, thus leaving it paralyzed. This is called analysis paralysis and is more common than you may have estimated it to be.
Does it make you feel anxious?
Analysis paralysis has been known to cause symptoms of depression and anxiety, and there is no surprise why. You were faced with a situation wherein you needed to make a decision. You didn’t want to make the wrong decision, so you evaluated the pros and cons of the outcome of each possible decision. While evaluating the pros and cons, you were not sure if either outcome was more favorable than the other. You then imagined yourself facing the consequences of your decision and realized that both were equally favorable to you – so you couldn’t make a decision at all. We get why the situation we just described could send you into a frenzy, and we have curated a list of things you can do to overcome the displeasure you feel.
How can you deal with analysis paralysis?
There are a few practical things you can do to avoid going through the unpleasant feelings that analysis paralysis causes.
Order the small and big decisions in decreasing order of importance and focus on those that will truly make a difference to your life. To do this you should work on understanding what you need and what purpose the consequence fulfills. If you’re certain of what you need, you will be able to arrive at what’s most important to you and how to go about obtaining it.
Setting a realistic deadline is important. You simply can’t pour over the same situation for weeks, months, or years! You need to set a deadline so as to be able to finish making all the decisions you have to in their order of importance. Setting a deadline does not have to be daunting. It can actually help you understand how important a certain decision is!
Sometimes, you may be faced with multiple possibilities. You can get through them faster if you start by eliminating those that just won’t work for you. For instance, you want to buy a new phone so you make a trip to the store. You see an iPhone, a Samsung Phone, a Motorola phone and a OnePlus. You eliminate the iPhone and the Samsung phone because they are not within your budget. Between the Motorola and the OnePlus phones, you eliminate the Motorola one because its specifications say that it is not as fast as you would like it to be. Eliminating the options that will not work for you, lead you to choose the OnePlus phone. Similarly, in a lot of situations, you will be faced with multiple possible decisions. You can eliminate the ones that you are certain are of little to no consequence to you.
You could consult with someone who is an expert in the field that you need to make a decision in. For example, if you just graduated from high school, you now have to identify the field you would like to pursue your undergraduate studies in. You have always been inclined towards mechanics, but you also have a flair for writing and find that journalism is a field you may be interested in! Since this is a major decision, you worry that you may not take the right one. You can enlist the assistance of a career counselor, who is trained in assessing the personality traits of students to help them realize what the best job-fit for them would be.
Trust your judgment
Once decided, don’t look back. You have made up your mind because you carried out all the research you needed to and you have arrived at the decision that is closest to ideal.
Managing and coping with anxiety
Many a time, anxiety dominates your emotional state, and you find yourself wondering, “Is anxiety an illness?” When faced with a decision, we often feel anxious. In this kind of a situation, what we are feeling is an emotion, which helps our brain activate the fight-or-flight reaction. It is important that in addition to focusing on making the right decision, you need to focus on alleviating the stress and anxiety that come with it. You can encourage yourself to participate in small daily activities like taking a walk, jogging through the park, reading a book, and listening to music. Beyond a certain limit, however, this emotion of anxiety grips you so hard that you can’t seem to focus on anything.
The anxiety then becomes an obstruction that curbs your ability to function on a daily basis. This may be symptomatic of an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder or another mental illness, such as depression. To cope with this, you can consult with a therapist to understand how to go about treating it. You may be encouraged to undergo therapy or counseling or even a life coaching session to get clarity of thought. You may also be advised to learn how to meditate as it is known to be highly beneficial for treating anxiety.
You are not alone
It is important for you to know that decision-making bogs everyone down once in a while. The anxiety you are feeling may be fleeting. However, if you feel like the anxiety is overwhelmingly persistent and are having trouble coping with anxiety, stress or depression, you can connect with our experienced therapists here and they will guide you towards picking the right path for your healing. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.