“I just have to find the perfect jacket to go with this dress for this wedding” I thought to myself outloud while shopping with a friend. I’d spent all day searching. Strolling from store to store. Trying to find the perfect jacket- one that wasn’t too warm or too cold. It needed to be put together looking but also more on the casual side. Id been fixating on finding one perfect article of clothing when I realized that suddenly something that was usually fun (a day out strolling with friend) wasn’t fun anymore. It was stressful. I felt the clock ticking, so decided to pause instead.
Sometimes its an outfit, sometimes its a gift, other times a professional decision. We’ve all been there, stuck and unable to make a choice- always thinking the next best thing is just around the corner. We torture ourselves on the quest for the most perfect version or answer to whatever problem we are trying to solve.
The idea of a perfect decision or choice is really just a fantasy. We tell ourselves
this fantasy of perfection isn’t just possible but it’s the norm! But in reality, no
perfect choice or step exists. In these moments we are control seeking in the
hopes of guaranteeing an outcome when that just isn’t possible. Looking for the perfect choice only serves to have us miss out on being
present enough to actually enjoy what life has to offer!
So how do we stop over thinking and start living?
It's natural, we all want to avoid regret - but what about the regret for all of the missed experiences and opportunities lost by over-fixating on details you may or may not notice in the long run? When struggling with choice, it can be helpful to ‘zoom out’ and remind yourself of the big picture and what's really important to you.
This habit of over thinking comes from being harsh with ourselves. We fear a negative outcome and feel responsible. This urge is a sign it's time for some release! We have to release ourselves from judgment- we can’t really know the answers to everything. Mistakes or less than perfect outcomes are just a part of life. Reminding ourselves that imperfections and good-enoughness is a reality of the world and not a personal failing can help us when we start to stress.
Risk it all, baby!
Give yourself permission to take risks! Excitement and nervousness can be two sides of the same coin. The thrill of a rollercoaster makes some scream with excitement and others with fear. The difference between the two is trust. When we allow ourselves to feel the rush of excitement that a risk brings us, we are truly vulnerable. We trust the rollercoaster to bring us to the end of the ride safely, so we can enjoy the twists and turns.
Strategize to take control
One way to help reduce overthinking and help release perfectionism is to develop a problem solving strategy. This helps slow us from getting stuck on tiny details and instead allows us to re-focus on the process of making choices and solving our problems. This strategy could be different per person and per problem! It can be helpful to start by identifying trusted friends to chat impartially with, journaling, or scheduling yourself some quiet time to clear your head. Whatever you pick- knowing you have a WAY to solve problems can increase your confidence and allow you to take that leap!
Give yourself a deadline
And stick to it!! Identify a time when you will cut yourself off from the agony! Keep this promise to yourself. Keeping these promises with small choices and decisions increases the trust you’ll have in your own word which is another way to improve your overall confidence! It’ll be scary to stick to whatever choices you have that might not feel right or perfect. In the end when you start following through on your word and showing up for yourself, you’ll be released from trying to do the impossible.
Eventually, the imperfect will start to feel really, really good.