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Am I Overthinking Things? 5 Signs You're Overthinking a Decision

5 Signs You Have an Overthinking Mind

When we overthink things, we become confused and overwhelmed, as our brains work overtime searching for the smallest arguments to tip the scales one way or the other. While it's good to carefully consider every major decision, it's best to avoid paralysis by analysis. Here are five signs you may be overthinking things, along with some tips for coming to a decision.

  1. You're stuck in a loop. If you keep running over the same things, it's a good sign that your decision-making process has run awry. When this occurs, it's generally best to take a break from thinking and focus on other things. If you can, sleep on the decision to see if you have a different perspective later. If the decision must be made quickly, weigh your options one last time and commit to a choice, with the understanding that there may not have been a "right" answer in the first place.
  2. You're getting consistent feedback. If you are getting the same input from friends and family about a specific decision, it should be easier to make up your mind. If you are still going back and forth, however, you are probably overthinking things. When we are too close to an issue, we often lose perspective. If trusted friends, family members or coworkers seem to agree on which choice you should take, there's a good chance they are probably right.
  3. There's nothing left to consider. If you've already accumulated as much information as possible, it's probably time to make your decision. If, on the other hand, there's more data available, go ahead and seek it out. Make a list, comparing the pros and cons of each decision. Once there's no longer any new information coming in, settle on a choice. Again, sometimes we have to make decisions with the understanding that neither choice is ideal. In most cases, you will get many opportunities to make a previous decision “right” as time moves on.
  4. You are focused on uncertain outcomes. No one can predict the future, regardless of their experience, intellect or intuitive capabilities. Many times, when we are confronted with a tough decision, we try to play things out in our minds to get an idea of how the choice will affect every future outcome. In real life, there are countless things that affect how a decision plays out. Since there's no way to see around every corner, try to focus on likely or certain outcomes when coming to a decision, and avoid speculating about things you can't possibly predict.
  5. You can't let go. If your brain is especially noisy, you may find it difficult to stop thinking about a particular decision. If you are constantly playing out scenarios, however, you are only exhausting your cognitive capabilities. When this happens, things can get convoluted and confusing, causing you to make the wrong choice. If you can't decide on something within about 30 minutes, it's best to move on and distract yourself with something else. After a while, you can return to the issue with a fresh perspective that will allow you to be more objective. Whether you watch a television show, read a book or take a nap, any type of break will help reduce frustration and eliminate circular thinking so you can make a calm, sensible choice when you return to the issue at a later time.

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