Too Much Input


In a society that is now chalk full of internet advice, sometimes making a decision can feel overwhelming.  I am someone who likes to research to the nth degree before making a decision.  I like to compare, seek “expert advice” and attempt to make the “perfect” decision.  I often drive my husband crazy, overwhelming him with too many “facts” and variables about things before I make a decision.  While some comparing and contrasting may be helpful when picking out a new household appliance, seeking too much input about major life decisions can hinder our process.

Many times, when I am working with a client, we spend a significant amount of time weeding out all of the extraneous input they have somehow collected and stored in their brain.  From suggestions made by well-meaning relatives and friends to “research” they have done.  In addition, many of us get stuck in the mind game of trying to predict every possible outcome. All of this input turns into fearful “coulds” in our head.  ‘So and so said I should do this’ and ‘I read somewhere that people over 40 should _____ and that if I don’t ____ then _______ couldhappen.’ We create a belief system that feels narrow and often leaves us panicking with seemingly black and white choices.  When we feel like we only have two options, we are often experiencing tunnel vision.  Other signs of tunnel vision include increased anxiety, feeling like we need to hurry and make a decision quickly before things “unravel” and feeling like we are trapped.

In my brief study of Positive Psychology, I learned from Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson that we can only be creative when we feel safe.  We know that some of the best decisions are made when we are able to think calmly and employ “outside of the box” thinking.  When our mind is rushing with thoughts and we are furiously comparing and contrasting details and our chest feels tight, we know it’s not the best time to make a decision.  So the first step is to get back on track feeling safe.

What can we do?
1st: Stop the flurry of thoughts by asking ourselves: What am I afraid of?  Play out that fear.
2nd: Dream a little.  What would you love to happen?
3rd: What can you live with?  What would be “ok”?

Finally, reflect back on all of the big decisions you made that were successful.  Where do you have a track record?  Gain back your own trust.  Know that you can trust your instincts, because they got you where you are today.  Also, allow yourself to know that no matter what you choose, you will be safe because…..(fill this in yourself).  Your brain wants to know the facts, so write them down and then feel safe moving on.

What do you think?