Being an indecisive person in day-to-day life may not sound like the greatest of burdens in this troubled world, but it certainly presents its challenges – challenges that people who are not chronic over-thinkers don’t even know exist in their la-de-dah, it’ll-all-work-out, easy-go-lucky state of mind (lucky them).
Being an experienced chronic over-thinker myself, I can’t even walk into a Coldstone for ice cream without having a minor panic attack over the array of flavors, and on top of that, the add-ins and toppings. And god, what size do I want? It’s too much. What if I choose one flavor, but then realize I want the other? There’s no going back, I’m stuck with the cake batter and Heath – what in the world was I thinking? Why did I make such a stupid choice? I. Am. An. Idiot. I should have picked the chocolate. Yeah, that chocolate was definitely calling my name…
And before we chronic over-thinkers know it, the poorly chosen cake batter and Heath is gone, and we barely enjoyed one bite because time and energy were spent thinking about the chocolate.
But what exactly goes on in our minds? Here’s a start (and trust me, this list is just grazing the surface – see, already over-thinking).
1. Nothing is ever 100 percent, certainly, without a doubt the right choice. There are always countless “what-ifs” and hypothetical situations that will find their way into our minds, even after we have made a well-thought out choice. Peace of mind is our acquaintance, not a close friend.
2. Navigating relationships is a whole other ball game. Especially in this day and age, when the hook-up culture is so prevalent and constant communication is completely plausible. There is so much to over-analyze, so many signs to read into. “Why did he sent a winky face emoji instead of a normal smile? Why did he end that sentence with a period and not an exclamation point? Is he mad at me? Oh god, he’s mad…what did I do? Shit, now he sent a smiley face. Does that mean we are okay?” And impressively enough, we can go on and on.
3. We run away from uncertain outcomes (see number two). I can only speak for the over-thinker in myself here, but I know when I start reading too much into a person or a situation, I convince myself to end it before the other person can. This way I retain control and hurt myself rather than the other person hurting me – as if one is preferable over the other.
4. We can’t compartmentalize. If something is wrong in one part of our life, it will likely consume our thoughts in other parts of life as well. We are good at hiding this and being productive regardless, but it’s still there, nibbling at the back of our minds until we can get home, collapse on the couch, and give it our full attention.
5. We don’t live in the moment. Some people can do this well, or claim to, but we are completely incapable. Each moment leads to another, and another, and another…and suddenly we are five years down the road, wondering how this decision is going to affect us then, rather than enjoying the spontaneity.
6. Buyer’s remorse. When buying an electronic, for example, we spend hours researching and decided which best fits our needs, only to change our minds multiple times. Then after being almost sure and purchasing one, the remorse kicks in and we imagine how much better that iPhone would have treated us than the Android we chose…
7. We rarely enjoy experiences to the fullest extent. This isn’t because we aren’t happy or wish we were elsewhere. We just wish we could have found a way to combine every possible choice to have a perfect, happy, blended assortment, leaving no room for wondering about the alternative.
But even through the struggles and the uncertainty, through telling our minds to just, for the love of God, shut the hell up already, we manage to come out the other side. We manage to hold our lives together because we think our choices through – and as often as this burdens us, it also frees us from less favorable outcomes.