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10 Things Only Over-Thinkers Can Relate To

10 Things Only Over-Thinkers Can Relate To

When I was in high school, I had a crazy mad crush on a dreamy guy one year older, who didn’t even know I existed. Imagine my shock, then, when he stopped me in the hall one day and asked me to go out on Saturday night.

The rest of the week was spent going through every outfit in my closet, getting advice from friends on hair and makeup, and practicing conversations and quick little humorous sound bites to impress. Five outfits and three different hairstyles later, I was finally ready for the big night. The date was a total bust, but not because of me. He was the most egocentric, narcissistic person I had ever met, and I couldn’t wait to get the night over with.

How much time and energy had I wasted for nothing?

I am one of those people who over-thinks everything, so this has always been “normal” for me. If you are an over-thinker,”you will definitely relate to these other ten scenarios.

1. You fret each exam day

If you have the over-thinker disease, you know how this played out when it came time to take a test. The exam sat before you on your desk or on your computer. You knew you were prepared; you had studied and knew the material. As you looked at each question and the four possible answers, however, the disease kicked in and you began to second-guess your answers. Out came the eraser, as you changed the answer two or three times, still ruminating on it as you went on to the next question and did the same thing. After the test was over, it still didn’t stop. You continued to think about the questions and the answers you chose, still trying to re-think yourself.

2. You hate job interviews

Over-thinkers prepare for a job interview in much the same way I prepared for that bust of a date.

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We change outfits multiple times times. We try to anticipate every question that might be asked and ruminate over the answers we might give. We spend days practicing how to sound smart, enthusiastic, witty and clever, and, at the same time, really serious about our desire for the job. We practice our smiles and facial expressions in front of the mirror and our handshakes with any friend who will tolerate us. We go back over those questions and our prepared answers, tweaking them again–maybe three or four or more times.

Then we walk into an interview that is so casual and “lightweight” that we sail through it, not having had to use any of those answers we spent days preparing.

3. You get carried away with personal finance and budgeting

Every month, without fail, and even several times during the month, we insist upon sitting down at the kitchen table and listing, all over again, our bills and expenses, just to make sure we did not make a mistake, to see if there is any way we can tweak it any more. Our income hasn’t changed in the last two weeks, nor has our mortgage or car payments. But still, we go at it again, getting those numbers down on paper and punching them into our calculators. Nothing has changed in the last week or two, but here we are, just checking it again.

4. You question every parenting decision

Over-thinkers have plenty to ruminate on as parents.

Are we too strict? Are we too lenient? Did I handle that situation right? What should I have done better? Am I a horrible parent because I won’t let my 10-year-old wear lipstick? Am I stifling my child’s search for self-identity by refusing to sign for a tattoo at age 15? When is the right time to allow my child to shop for their own clothes? And how much allowance is right?

Whenever we make a parenting decision, we agonize first over making the decision and, once it is made and implemented, we continue to second-guess ourselves. It’s grueling.

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5. You become neurotic about your pet

Pets have a tendency to become our other children, and we over-thinkers become just as neurotic about them as we do the real thing. We have to continually re-think a million questions and decisions when we get a new puppy. Are they getting enough exercise? Do we have the most nutritious puppy food to be found? We didn’t call the vet about the little discharge from his eye. Should we call about it now? Should we go to the dog park more so he can be socialized? Are we damaging him emotionally by leaving him in his cage all day while we go to work? Maybe we should take him to doggie day care during the day.

6. You are too familiar with social anxiety

We are invited to a party hosted by a friend, and the other guests form a group of people we do not know well. In fact, we have little in common with them. There’s plenty to think about here.

Why did they invite me? Is it just being done out of obligation and they really doesn’t want me to come? If I do go, will I be uncomfortable all evening because I really don’t know anyone? Maybe I should just get sick the day of the party. No, I can’t do that. Maybe I could just go for an hour and come up with an excuse to leave early. But then what will my friend think if I do that? Even though we know it will not matter a year from now whether we attended that party or not, we can’t turn off the scenarios running in our heads.

7. You always have that project at work

It’s important that the deadline is met. It’s important that the boss be impressed. So we set to work on the big project. Every step of the way, however, we stop and ask ourselves how it could be better. Will the boss like it? Can I change the graphs and charts I made into something better? Can I re-write this section and make it better? In fact, we are often in danger of missing deadlines, because we over-think our every step.

8. You are terrible at gift-giving

While most people enjoy the holiday season, we have to gird ourselves for what we know is coming. Whether we shop online or in brick and mortar stores, we have decisions to make about gifts.

We have a great joke gift idea for a relative that we think will just be hilarious. So we order or buy it. As soon as the purchase is finalized, however, we begin to re-think what we have done. Suppose they don’t find it as hilarious as I do? Is it really all that funny or is it just dumb? And that piece of costume jewelry we bought for Aunt Marge? Is it really her style? Will she think it looks too cheap?

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The Christmas season can be pure agony for over-thinkers.

9. You have a special attitude towards home remodeling projects

The house needs a facelift. We are going to put in new flooring, new baseboards, paint every room, and get new kitchen countertops and cabinets. It’s a big project but we are looking forward to an updated “look.”

We choose the flooring, the countertop and the cabinets.  We bring home paint swatches for every room, decide on colors and buy gallons of paint. We make preliminary decisions, and then it begins. The disease has struck again.

Maybe that flooring should be a darker color? Perhaps the kitchen cabinets need to be darker too? And if we make them darker will the countertop still match? We begin to over-think all of the choices we made until we are simply stalled. And then we begin all over again, from scratch. It is amazing that over-thinkers are ever really able to make all of final decisions about home remodeling.

10. You can’t stand the idea of giving a speech

True story. A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at a content marketing workshop. This was exciting for me, because it meant that I was becoming recognized in the industry as someone with expertise.

With great gusto, I set about getting ready. I determined that, in order to gain and keep audience engagement, I needed to be creative. So I prepared a presentation that, when practiced in front of my friends, drew great laughter and total engagement. They thought it was a “hoot” and yet contained some great information–just given in the hysterical format of some of the most ridiculous errors that had been made over the past few years, and then some advice relative to how to avoid the same errors. I had great slides of these errors too. I was ready and excited.

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The day before the speech, the disease came creeping in. What if some of my audience members had made similar mistakes? Would they think I was ridiculing them? What if what my friends found to be funny they would not?

The entire speech could just bomb, and I would be embarrassed and never invited back. So, the day before that event, I changed the entire presentation. I made it straightforward, a bit academic, and certainly provided great, actionable information, but in a serious way. That is the presentation I ultimately gave.

Within 30 minutes, it was evident that I had lost my audience. Part of it may have been that they were out late the night before, but it was definitely a bomb. The second day, when I was to make the same presentation again, I went back to the original. A hit was on my hands!

We over-thinkers will probably not change our ways. It’s natural for us to constantly question ourselves and our choices. But we can learn to laugh at ourselves, and that’s a good thing.

By the way, the research also says we’re more creative!

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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