Are you someone that spends ages trying to make a decision, even something seemingly as simple as choosing a sandwich filling at your local café? Or are you someone that has found themselves over analysing every possible scenario in order to make decision, but still not feeling comfortable or confident in your choice? If this sounds familiar, this article will help. We chat to Jenny Warwick, BACP registered counsellor and psychotherapist, to find out what causes overthinking and how we can create headspace to make decisions with confidence.

Why do some people tend to overthink more than others?

Some people just are deep thinkers. They tend to consider more about what other people think, as well as what is going on for themselves. They take into account other people’s thoughts and feelings, or what they perceive them to be, which adds an extra layer of thought processes. Overthinking can also be situational, depending on what is happening in your life. If you have a lot of stress on you and your resilience is low, then that is when you are more likely to overthink. It feels difficult to get what is in your head because your thoughts are not clear. It is worth mentioning that there is a difference between overthinking something and problem-solving. You may feel that you are looking for potential solutions to an issue, however, with overthinking, you tend to go around and around the same issue in your head rather than coming up with a likely resolution. 

Can someone who was quite decisive become indecisive?

Yes, people can move between being decisive and indecisive, depending on where they are personally or if something has happened. You might be very confident in your workplace, for example, and then an issue arises. Perhaps your idea wasn’t received well and you feel undermined, manipulated or shut down. You then start to question yourself, second-guessing and overthinking and trying to work out potential ways around or approach things differently than you would have done before. It is also absolutely possible to get on top of overthinking and there are steps you can take to help your decision-making. This takes practice and, although it may feel hard at first, it becomes easier over time. 

How do we calm intrusive thoughts that interfere with decision-making?

Intrusive thoughts are distressing and are a sign that you need to stop and give yourself a bit of a break. Trying to ignore them or push them away just doesn’t work. You need to be able to sit and recognise that you are having these thoughts; that they are getting in the way of you getting on with the things you need to do. Then you can decide to give yourself a moment, pause, bring yourself back into the present and breathe. Being able to recognise and reflect on what has led you to this point is helpful. It can feel frightening and you wonder where these thoughts are coming from; quite often, if you sit down and think of all you have going on, you’ll recognise that your resilience may be lower as a result and that your mental health is taking a hit. Rather than worry about having intrusive thoughts, adding that to your list of worries, take them as a sign that things are getting a little too much. Now is the time to stop and think about what you need right now to get some headspace. Giving your mind a little bit of a break will help you feel calmer and clearer, which will help your decision-making. 

How can we become stronger and more confident decision-makers?

One hack to feel a little better at making decisions is to establish some sort of sense of routine and structure around your day. Taking some of the small decisions out of your day-to-day can give you the headspace you need to consider the options when you need to decide with confidence.

Notice when you find your thoughts whirling round and round and try to bring yourself back into the present moment; take some deep breaths and show yourself some self-compassion. It is harder to make decisions when we are caught up in what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Try to let go of mistakes you may have made in the past; making mistakes is how we learn and grow. This is something therapy can help with. When you find your thoughts are getting in the way of you being able to get on and do the things you need to, speaking with a counsellor can help. 

You may also like...