I didn’t understand my father’s unwavering reliance upon the “tried and true” and his overt conservatism until I was older and experienced the problem of over-thinking for myself. A friend told me that over thinking is usually called indecision. So when push comes to shove, an indecisive person will ultimately fall back on default, comfortable solutions.
Most people, I know, have difficulty reaching decisions that do not rely upon conventional thinking or default solutions. If we’re not mindful, as we age, safe-thinking and over-thinking may become the default ways of producing opinions and making decisions.
Over-thinking is a convenient, easy way of postponing very difficult decisions. A person’s outward show of relaxation and calm mask the internal debate over which choices should be made. The mind mulls over the benefits and detriments of each choice, usually the detriments, over and over until outside factors force a final decision. Those hasty, last-minute decisions often turn out to be the least wise of the options.
Over-thinking or indecision often coexists with denial. If we pretend to ourselves and others that there is no problem, or if we ignore the situation long enough, it will go away by itself. Of course, no action is actually a decision, too. Usually inaction leads to other people or factors taking control of situations away from us.
What often happens, is that one’s conscience eventually forces the ultimate need to face the refusal to directly, proactively face the situation. If over-thinking has already enabled the situation to become someone else’s problem, then the conscience must deal with regrets and further over-thinking of what should have been.
Living in a mind that is occupied by over-thinking is a state of dissatisfaction and suffering. A mind that is over-thinking is a mind that spends too much time in the future, not enough time in the present, and eventually, too much time in the past.
Everybody faces life situations and decisions that can be difficult and result in painful consequences. The wise person knows that it’s best to look a problem “square in the eye”, and make a decision with the best intentions. The better solution is not a snap-decision, but one that is prompt, and not over-thought. The wise person has learned that avoidance leads to complications and probably more inner and outer conflict.
Frequently, over-thinking is the result of imbalance in one’s way of seeing the world. Over-thinking or indecisiveness comes from us trying to fit our straight and narrow way of thinking into new situations in our ever-changing, more expansive, inclusive world. An indecisive mind can be channeled away from its usual way of thinking into considering alternative ideas and points of view or “walking in someone else’s shoes”.
Looking at a situation from a fresh point of view may seem counterproductive, but it really isn’t. Taking a more objective approach allows us to better weigh the real pros and cons of the available options. This often leads to an unexpected, better solution that had been hidden from view due to a lack of expanded mental vision. This happens because we’ve broken the destructive, endless cycle of indecisiveness. A fresh point of view can cause the fog of over-thinking, within ones usual parameters, to dissipate. In other words, we awaken from the self-hypnosis of over-thinking.
The failure to break the cycle of over-thinking a problem often leads to a stalemate in which there are no clear winners nor losers. As we all know, truces are temporary, make-shift measures. A stalemate only means to pause the conflict. Eventually, the end to a conflict means that the stalemate must end through a decisive resolution. Over-thinking is the parent of failure.
In other words, we all have to face difficult situations that can easily lead to the false comfort of indecision and getting stalled at impasses regarding an important aspect of our lives. At some point, we must make precise, unambiguous decisions. If we get stuck in cycles of over-thinking, we find ourselves in a trap of our own making. Once we’re trapped, we are vulnerable to the winds of fate or the desires of others.
Indecision limits our life’s options. Getting out of our heads, allows us to see life from other points of view, and enables us to experience the joy of an open mind, and the freedom to live life free from over-thinking.
Indecisiveness and over-thinking are our personal torture chambers. At any time, we can step away from the torture, when we honestly decide to do so.