Dear Therapist: Overthinking

Dear Therapist:

Friends tell me I overthink everything — to the point where I can’t make a decision. How do I stop and actually just make a decision, feel good about it, and move on?

Sincerely, Too Much Thinking

WOW! I think you are not alone. How many of us take hours, days, weeks when trying to decide on what to do in any given situation? I think this is common, but if overthinking is leading you to not actually being able to make a decision, then it is paralyzing you. Which leads to feeling stuck.

So, first off, ask yourself why it is difficult to actually make a decision? Is it a lack of trust in self and what you will decide? Is there more than one option that you would like to pursue, but can only decide on one? Are you concerned about others and how they will react to your decision? It could be any of these reasons or something else, but getting to the source of why you overthink can be helpful in gaining more knowledge of self to help you move forward.

From there, when decision time arises, create a way forward to what you will decide that helps you decide rather than leaves you spinning wheels in your mind. As an example, on your own sit down and write down the positives and negatives of what you are deciding. From there, size it up. And do this using your intuition, i.e. what feels like the right way to go for you. So, engaging your mind and your felt sense of intuition is important.

If you are looking for opinions from others, ask a few trusted friends about the situation and what you are intending to do. See if they can offer you something further to help you make the decision. Do note, it is important to NOT engage this step if you feel swayed by people to do what they think you should do, rather than helping you decide for yourself.

Finally — DECIDE. And I would give myself a certain frame of time to do this in. If you leave it completely open-ended, it will be easy to simply let it hang open and lead you to feeling stuck in indecision.

Once you have decided, celebrate! You didn’t get stuck, but pushed forward.

Overthinking a decision or anything is a sign that we are taking the situation seriously, However, using overthinking to avoid and/or stay stuck is not going to help you decide anything. Recognizing you overthink and employing tools to help is key.