Masters of comebacks conjured years too late, enemies of instinct, and the bane of decisive folk, over-thinkers are inevitable in this choice-filled world. However, considering all that could occur in life, it is absurd to contemplate all the if's and but's. Even so, I know avoiding overthinking is easier said than done.
As someone who used to get stuck planning and thinking and stressing through my thoughts, here are a few bits of motivation to help you stop overthinking and start doing.
These tips may not apply to serious decisions like buying a house or deciding whether to start a family, but they can help you rethink your approach to life. Sometimes, life's not that serious.
1. Care Less
Think about this, and be honest with yourself. Why do you care?
Over caring goes hand in hand with overthinking and it leads you to consider others' judgements when making a decision that will only affect yourself. What motivates you to weigh the judgements of others over your own thoughts? I can tell you this: I don't have a valid reason for it.
In overthinking any situation you begin to waste energy and chip away at your confidence, while effectively giving the matter at hand more power than it deserves. Think about how awesome life would be if you cared a little bit less.
Instead of being afraid you won't like that new ice cream flavor three bites in, sample it and go with your gut. Even if the person behind the counter is annoyed that you ask to try three different flavors, even if you decide to go with your usual after tasting all three, it doesn't matter because you're the customer and that's their job. Don't reduce your value and don't keep yourself from experiencing life. Even the little things.
It’s an amazing feeling when you don't have to place life on hold to over-contemplate your concerns.
2. Do It Anyway
No matter how much you care, do it anyway. Dance on the train. Smile at that girl. Pump your fist if you please. Whatever it is that you’ve had the urge to do, don’t hold back. As long as you aren’t causing harm to yourself or others, why not?
If you are caught between fearing extreme embarrassment and desperately longing to try this thing, close your eyes and tip yourself over the edge. I can't guarantee you won't be embarrassed, because sometimes I am. But, I can say that you will be glad you did it. The joy of doing the ‘thing’ and conquering your fear in that moment, outweighs all.
3. If you don’t have the guts, find a friend who does
Listen, you and I both know that some things take two. For instance, I don’t have the courage to road trip to Arizona on my own. Add a daring friend to the mix, and I just might go. There's something about adding a social element to the mix that makes me feel much braver than I would alone.
Think about Marlin and Dory. They did that.
It’s much easier to follow through, when you have a friend who couldn't care less. For one, they will hold you accountable as they push you past your comfort zone. Even better, a true friend will be there to catch you if you fall.
4. Redefine Your Reality
There's no proof any of this is "real". You don’t know what you don’t know, and even if you've found an answer to life that works for you, it's still possible to redefine your reality.
As we each perceive life through our own points of view, and each of those perceptions is different, who is to say what is real and what isn't? Of course, there's the collective reality that various groups have agreed on, but there's no way for humans to directly observe an objective view of life.
Now, you don't have to give up your beliefs. However, there's no harm in acknowledging your unique ideas or in removing meaning for a moment to do that one thing you've always wanted to do. Introduce yourself to the cute stranger. Take an hour to relax and read your book. It won't be the end of the world if you give yourself a break and enjoy a few moments of life - pure, unadulterated life.
As for society, we shape it. We choose to impose standards, and our behaviors define social norms. So don’t be scared of defying conventions that you are otherwise going to reinforce. Define your own path. Some people will disagree, while others will applaud you for doing it. None of that should matter. All that counts is how you feel about what you have done.
5. Life is Absurd, Accept This
Google Dictionary defines absurd as that which is wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate. Can you truly tell me this isn't an accurate description of our lives? Think about it. People spend so much time and energy in order to achieve success and find happiness. Many live in fear of death, but life's meaning is inextricably tied to the fact that we die. Where is the sense in this? Considering absurdity, it doesn't make much sense to remain concerned over relatively insignificant matters, especially those that won't make much difference at the end of the day.
Actionable advice: Give yourself one minute (no more, no less) to draft a pro's and con's list. At the end of the minute, if the pro's outweigh the con's, then do it. Accept the absurdity of basing your decision off of a minute-long list, and enjoy this illogical life.
Do not let trivialities prevent you from chasing happiness.
6. Even if you embarrass yourself, people will forget
There's too much happening in the world for a stranger to hold on to the memory of your failure on the train. You fell while fist-pumping. So what? Worst case, that stranger doesn't forget. Worst worst case, they record it, share the video, and it goes viral. What are the odds?
Actionable advice: If you embarrass yourself after making a risky decision, take a breath and play it off. People don't enjoy making fun of those who clue themselves into the joke as much as they do an unexpecting soul. Somehow, that element of embarrassment needs to stay alive for others to really enjoy it. Schadenfreude.
7. Rejection 'here' is not rejection everywhere
Let’s say you try this thing. I don’t know what it is. It’s your thing.
Anyway, let’s say you do it and you’re turned down, someone laughs, or you regret doing it. At least it’s done!
You had the courage to get out of your head for a moment. You had the courage not to care. Don’t prevent yourself from trying again at some point in the future. For every person who laughs, there will be someone who admires, and for person who rejects your idea or proposal, there will be someone who is willing to accept it. Just keep swimming.
8. Time is ticking. Stop wasting your moments.
We are all going to die. (I know, I’m charming) My point is: since time is limited, don't waste your moments worrying about the way a stranger may see you. I am most definitely guilty of this, but I'm working to change, because if we only have one life to live, why spend so much time trying to complement another person's view?
Actionable advice: Start a journal. Anytime you catch yourself stuck in a cycle of thoughts, take out your journal and write everything down. If you don't have your journal, use a notes app.
I started doing this last summer and it really helps. From personal experience, don't revisit your thoughts. Just leave them be. It is definitely anxiety-inducing to read all the words that represent only a few seconds of thinking.
9. Life Goes On
To add to the whole “time doesn't stop for anyone” spiel, apparently life gets better when you stop caring.
I am still in the process of trying out this mentality, but I can already say it's true. You might attract more attention, from living your best life and whatnot, but if you can prepare yourself to make new friends and to have some people decide they don't like you right off the bat, then go for it. It feels great that I don't have to worry about whether or not the people I meet will like me for me, because as soon as I meet them, I show them who I really am.
Actionable advice: Don't overthink yourself. Allow yourself to live in each moment without worrying what you should be doing or how you should appear. How? Occupy yourself with activities that distract you from your thoughts. Remind yourself these concerns can be addressed later, and then immerse yourself in the moment.
10. Take a chance, and make a choice
Take this time to visualize how awesome it might feel to live without care. How fun. How free.
Actionable advice: Set goals that target your anxieties and allow you to build upon the areas that weaken you most. For instance, if a lot of your anxiety stems from insecurity and a general inability to be comfortable as you are, in front of others, make a note to practice self-love. Break this goal down into actionable items like writing daily gratitudes about yourself, and creating a kick-ass mantra to remind yourself of all you're worth. As you become more comfortable with yourself, you become increasingly prepared to LIVE OUT LOUD.
Originally Published in All the Little Things on Medium