How to Overcome “Analysis Paralysis”
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Have you ever faced a decision that caused you to spiral in overwhelming thoughts? Maybe you even wasted ample time ruminating, and in the end, didn’t even come to a conclusion. Frustrating, isn’t it? If you’ve ever experienced this pattern of overthinking, you may want to learn more about “analysis paralysis” and how to overcome it.
What Is It?
“Analysis paralysis” is a fun phrase for something that is not very fun to experience. It is when you become so overwhelmed that you become unable to move forward in thought or come up with a decision or solution to whatever is causing your overthinking. It’s almost like we are stuck in a spin-cycle of negative and overwhelming thoughts.
There are many thoughts and decisions that can lead us to this pattern, whether they regard careers, relationships, finances, or even daily tasks. They all have one thing in common: you. Because these aspects of our lives influence the way we view ourselves and our futures, there comes a great deal of pressure to make the “right” life decisions.
This ultimately leads to analysis paralysis. Even though it’s beneficial to make thoughtful and careful decisions about our futures, there’s a point where the amount of time spent worrying and analyzing decisions becomes impractical.
It can be a difficult challenge to navigate, but there are ways to overcome and beat analysis paralysis! But first, it’s important to understand what it looks and feels like, so that you are able to identify exactly when you are experiencing this pattern.
What Does It Look Like?
“Analysis paralysis” can happen anywhere and at any time. It can be hard to understand if you are experiencing normal thoughts pertaining to an important decision, or if it’s something more. In order to overcome this, we must first be able to identify what it is.
Here are some examples that may help you with identification:
- Fear of Failure: By avoiding the possibility of failure by not making a decision, we cause ourselves to be stuck in the same position.
- Resistance to Change: Fighting change can cause us to stay in the cycle of overwhelming thoughts and questions. We will continue to ask, “What if?”
- Complexity: When considering too many variables, it’s easy for us to become overwhelmed and stuck.
- Large Purchases: A decision that can cause a large amount of back-and-forth thoughts on wondering if you’re making the right decision.
- Pursuing Goals: We often over-analyze the possible outcomes, more often the negative possibilities. Which can cause us to freeze in fear over making the wrong decision for our future. As adults, worrying about our careers and futures are prominent aspects in our daily lives.
This cycle of overanalyzing can also feel extremely detrimental for perfectionists, who already struggle with decision-making and pressure. If this is you, and want to learn how to let go of the restraining perfectionist thought-patterns check out this book: The Gift of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown.
Now that we understand where “analysis paralysis” can creep up on us, it’s important to know how it can feel. This way, we will be prepared the next time it happens!
How It feels:
“Analysis paralysis” feels different for everyone, but there are some common symptoms found in most individuals when making a tough decision. This thought cycle impacts your nervous system, and in return can cause physical symptoms such as:
- Increased anxiety
- Stomach issues
- High blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Loss of sleep
It can also impact your daily life. Be sure to look out for these symptoms as well:
- Lack of productivity
- Inability to focus
- Lost interest in making decisions (as simple as what to eat for dinner)
It’s necessary to note that even though analysis paralysis on paper seems like it’s just a mental health subject, these are very real symptoms that truly impact your overall health. This is why it’s crucial to be aware of how you personally identify with this pattern in order to be able to learn how to combat it!
How To Overcome it:
Even though this may feel like a mountain to overcome, there are some easy techniques to try that can help you reclaim your mindset and stop the cycle!
1. Take a break. If the task at hand seems overwhelming, walk away and do something else to get your mind off of it. Once you feel more grounded and clear headed, come back!
2. Simplify choices. If having too many decisions each day causes analysis paralysis for you, simplify them! Try this:
– Create a “uniform” of clothing for each day
– Meal-prep for the upcoming week
– Use Sunday as the day to plan out bigger decisions for the week (ex: Wednesday is laundry day, Thursday is making appointments, etc.)
– Try using a planner to organize decisions & tasks
3. Use lavender to help you relax and stay grounded
4. Rank decisions by importance. By making a list, you’ll have a better understanding of what needs to be done, and move forward with tackling things on the list you feel able to do
– Ex: If you’re feeling unmotivated or anxious that day, try completing the easier tasks on the to-do list!
5. Practice mindfulness. This will help you gain focus and attention when facing analysis paralysis or any overwhelming thought/decision
– Try a mindfulness guide if you are unsure how to start: I Am Here Now: A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal by The Mindfulness Project.
If you are someone that needs a more step-by-step process, try this one out next time!
- Learn to recognize what is happening. The first step is understanding that you are in analysis paralysis in order to work on overcoming it.
- Remind yourself it’s okay to be imperfect and make mistakes. Take a deep breath —we’re human!
- Remind yourself that you are able, even if you feel helpless.
- Break it down! Write down what you’re feeling and thinking. Then, go over what seems to be troubling you the most. Tackle each thought one at a time, and be patient with yourself.
- Make a list in order of the most to least important decisions or worries you are facing. Being able to see them more clearly can stop the flooding thoughts.
- Stay present: analysis paralysis often involves worry over the future. Remember, you’re not there yet. Instead, you’re here and now. With this mindset, you will allow yourself to move forward in the present instead of jumping towards the future.
Analysis paralysis is no joke and can severely impact our daily lives. If you find yourself faced with this difficulty, remember to be kind to yourself and take care of your well-being.
Clarke, J. (2022, April 22). What is analysis paralysis? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-analysis-paralysis-5223790
Dsouza, M. (2021, March 19). Analysis paralysis – how to stop analyzing too much. Productive Club.https://productiveclub.com/analysis-paralysis/#Real-life_examples_of_analysis_paralysis
Kane , B. (2020, September 24). The Science of Analysis Paralysis & Why it kills productivity. Ambition & Balance. https://blog.doist.com/analysis-paralysis-productivity/
Patterson, R. (2021, June 25). 7 techniques to overcome analysis paralysis. College Info Geek. https://collegeinfogeek.com/analysis-paralysis/
Raypole, C. (2020, April 27). How to Beat ‘Analysis Paralysis’ and Make All the Decisions. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/analysis-paralysis
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