Thursday, May 22, 2014

When to Stop Overthinking

Your eyes frantically dart back and forth between the chipotle chicken Panini and the cheddar bacon Cheeseburger as you see the server approaching with pen in hand to take your order. Every step brings them closer along with an urgency to finalize a decision leaving you in an anxious, sweaty mess. People tend to overanalyze, some more than others. Whether we are stuck choosing between a burger or a sandwich, or choosing a career, people often overthink problems until a decision is never made.
Some questions are more valuable than others; it only makes sense to devote more time and care to make sure the important questions are answered correctly. But when our thoughts, time, and energy are consumed by this problem, it crosses the line from thoughtful consideration to an unhealthy obsession. If our daily lives are being negatively affected by worry and anxiety, maybe this is point at which we should take a step back and ask ourselves if the problem is worth all the fuss.

All people have dealt with a problem that seemed massively important at the time, like choosing a college. The weight of the situation is magnified as if the regret of choosing a burger over a sandwich will follow us for the rest of our lives. In hindsight the stress and anxiety all seem rather silly. People have the tendency to belittle our old problems and exaggerate our current ones. But none of our problems are ever as big as we make them.

During times like these we tend to escalate the significance of our problems as if our lives depended on picking the right solution, like choosing careers. We are so afraid of picking a path in fear of choosing the wrong one, or a lesser option when a better one may exist. When we can’t come to a decision we feel stuck, stuck thinking about which option might be the best without actually choosing any of them. How will we know which option tastes better if we haven't tasted either of them?

And so with our identities built on the choices we make, we fear choosing unwisely will make us imperfect, but that is exactly what we are. We are imperfect and our mistakes do not define us as long as we recognize them for what they are. In the Parable of the Talents I did not understand why the servant who returned his masters money was punished. But it was his fear of losing the money, of choosing wrong, that angered God. People can make the right choices and learn from their wrong ones, but indecision gets us nowhere. 

Life should not be centered around our problems, because no problem is bigger than God. We may not always make the best decisions but life is a learning process. The things we feel are important now will not be important to us in the future. Make a decision, it's ok to be wrong. 

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