Analysis paralysis and getting over the fear of making mistakes
Analysis paralysis is a fancy way of saying “overthinking.” I think we’ve all been here: our minds are racing with so many potential solutions and outcomes that we get overwhelmed and freeze. And then, rather than making a decision, we delay until we feel comfortable with our final course of action.
Do you see why this is a problem? Let’s stop the madness. Time is precious, people!
In my life, particularly when I started pursuing spiritual enlightenment, I had to make important decisions in order to accelerate my growth. Ever heard of the saying: “sometimes doing the right thing, means doing the hard thing?” The greatest example I can come up with is when I decided to come out of the “spiritual closet”, so to speak. I had a serious case of analysis paralysis. I knew I wanted to be free, but I feared judgement - and that kept me in the safe zone for longer than I care to admit. And although I’m still learning, I will share this: it’s through discomfort (often short-lived) that we find growth.
Consider this: if all the Great Ones stayed in familiar territory, their names wouldn’t be iconic hundreds of years after their passing. These individuals were great because they were not afraid to take risks - they made bold choices. Choices that aligned with their values. Choices that likely scared them at first.
Now, I think it’s fair to say overthinking is a byproduct of fear. We freeze when we’re afraid to make the wrong choice. Of course, it’s important to avoid reckless decision-making, but when we try hard to predict the outcome of each choice before making our selection, we often pick the safest option. We’ve given ourselves too much time to dream up all the potential negative outcomes. This perspective, and the fear that comes with it, holds many of us back from being truly great.
So, what’s a girl/guy to do?
Well, the good news is - you’re human, and that means you’re no different than the rest of us. We’re all wired the same and faced with the same challenges - namely, the tug of war between what feels right and difficult, and wrong but easy. More good news: you have the gift of choice and the power to change. Here’s what it boils down to: 1) get yourself comfortable with the idea of making mistakes (Hold on, stay with me!) and 2) focus on the potential positive outcomes.
Making mistakes: getTING up close and personal
What if I told you nothing is an accident? Here’s the real truth about mistakes - they don’t exist. Once you realize that every perceived “mistake” is actually a special lesson intended just for you, you’ll be far less afraid of making decisions.
What if I also told you that you’re not actually afraid of making a mistake, you’re afraid of the feeling that goes along with it. Aha!
Take this as an example. I work in a corporate environment where my peers are all skilled at what they do. Collectively, we strive for excellence and sometimes that makes decision-making scary. We take extra precaution to make the right choice and ensure we avoid judgement from our peers, and this not only slows the process of execution, it gets in the way of some really fantastic ideas. Luckily, there’s both an awareness of the issue and a strong appetite for change.
The thing about judgement though is we are only affected by it when we value others’ opinions over our own. I take the office as an example because it’s the easiest place to get caught up in worrying about this sort of thing. In reality, the office example can be applied to just about any other area of your life: trying something new, communicating with your loved ones, making a career change - whatever! In all cases, holding back keeps you in the safe zone.
“What if I fail?” - but wait, what if you don’t?
It's time to get out of your own head. Like I mentioned, we tend to focus on the potential negative outcomes, rather than the positive. Here’s what you need to understand: if a decision may lead you to your most desired positive outcome, isn’t the risk worth taking? What might be possible if you changed your perspective and rather than expecting the worst, you expected the best? In the end, whatever happens is meant to.
Try this affirmation: "The Universe supports my decisions; everything that happens to me, happens for me."
What I’ve come to understand about analysis paralysis is that my very first thought is usually the best choice, and that’s because it’s coming straight from intuition. The choices that follow flow from the ego (fear, remember?) and these are the ones that confuse us. My take: always go with your gut, even if it scares you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t weigh the pros and cons of your decisions, but if you truly feel something is right, go with it.
Fun fact: Sabrina experienced analysis paralysis while finalizing this blog post.