I’m an overthinker, and my husband is too. When trying to put a positive spin on the often unsavory personality trait, we claim to be analytical – systematic and logical in our reasoning ability and decision-making processes.
We’re goal-oriented folks and make lists, sometimes written down and other times detailed in lengthy discussion, about the pros and cons of a pending decision. But, there are always unknown aspects to every choice made, and if we let them, those unknowns can keep us from making any choice at all.
Don’t get me wrong. Jeremy and I rarely find our “analytical process” a frustration. We’ll discuss all the various eatery options on our way to Statesboro — including the most recent health scores for those establishments — and make a game of it before settling on the restaurant we frequent most often. Yes, our decision-making process typically yields the same results.
However, indecisiveness is coupled with overthinking, and together, those traits can wreak havoc on folks, torturing them with regret over past decisions and rendering them incapable of making future decisions.
For a long time, I assumed Jeremy and I were the oddities in society, and mused that spontaneity must be exhilarating, while simultaneously passing judgement on someone taking that step into a new career path, parenthood or moving to a new city as irresponsible. See how conflicted an overthinker can be without proper perspective?
Cognizant of this crippling aspect to overthinking, Jeremy and I have reached a point with some decisions where we have to put the lists aside, stop talking the matter to death, and take a leap of faith, or as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs would say, “go with your gut.”
When we bought a new home last year, we didn’t know for sure if it was the right time to take that step for our family and we certainly didn’t know all the responsibilities of homeownership (we still don’t), but the move seemed like a wise financial choice and so we signed on the dotted line and leaped. And, it was just as exciting as I imagined it would be.
You see, overthinking is not one of those inherent character traits nor is it a genetic disposition. If you’ve been nodding your head in understanding while reading this column, you should know that overthinking is a learned behavior, and you can teach yourself how to push past it.
At the crux of the matter, a true overthinker is motivated by fear – either fear of repeating a past mistake or fear of making any mistake at all. I fell off my bike when I was 10 and broke my arm, but I didn’t quit riding the bike. As a novice driver, I rear ended a car in the rain, but I didn’t quit driving. I’m sure you can recall similar instances in your life as well.
So take heart my overthinking friend and remember Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advise: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” In our case, living a life free of regrets is that “something else,” and it’s worth shredding the pros and cons list from time to time.
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