I used to be one of them. This is why I know that overthinking can be a massive barrier to effective decision making.
It can also kill your self-confidence and even deteriorate your mental health. Research shows that chewing on problems and stressful situations repeatedly increases the risk of developing anxiety and depression.
So, why do we tend to overthink, sometimes to the point of having sleepless nights and experiencing anxiety?
The answer is simple. There’s too much at stake, we’ve taken a risk of starting a business we are solely responsible for and want to make sure that we do things right.
We are terrified of making mistakes. We want to avoid failing at all costs, hence we keep evaluating the pros and the cons, envisioning worst-case scenarios and letting our minds create so much noise that we are unable to hear our intuition.
Yes, we all have an intuition and our intuition is an excellent decision navigation tool but our overthinking mind blocks it. We usually know, in our gut, what the best course of action is. It’s there – on an intuitive level, and all we need to do is quiet our rational mind and listen.
As Albert Einstein says:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
How can we, as business owners, access this sacred gift and use it to improve our decision making?
By practising meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice which allows us to slow down our mind and free it from thoughts by focusing on our breathing. When our mind is quiet and there are no racing thoughts, we begin to experience a state of stillness and clarity.
Scientists, who have examined what happens to the brain during non-guided meditation, have discovered that when we meditate our brain exudes Theta waves. There is a constant electrical activity that takes place in our brains and the waves that are generated vary in their vibrational frequencies (you can read more about the five different brainwaves and the state of being, during which they occur here ).
Stimulating our brain to produce Theta waves, through breath-focused meditation such as mindfulness meditation, can help us enter a deep state of relaxation and access our intuition.
Learning how to practice this type of meditation is an excellent way to take control over your racing mind, break free of overthinking, establish a connection with your intuition and improve your decision making.
Getting started with mindfulness meditation
The quickest way to learn how to practice mindfulness meditation is by first learning how to pay attention to the movement of your breath as you breathe in and out. Follow the instructions below to get started.
Sit in a quiet space with your back straight (you can even lie down).
Start taking deep, slow breaths and feel how your stomach and chest expand as you breathe in and how they deflate as you breathe out.
Keep your attention purely on your breathing and as thoughts come, let them pass and do not engage with them.
Complete a few breathing cycles and aim for practising at least 10 minutes of deep, mindful breathing every day.
In time and, as you become better at focusing purely on your breathing, you will also become better at detaching from your thoughts and quieting your mind completely, thus entering a deep state of meditation.
Next time you find yourself stuck in your head, dwelling on the same problem and unable to make a decision, just pause and breathe.