I am a serial ‘over-thinker’. I anguish, I obsess, I dwell.
This ability to use of copious amounts of perfectly good brain cells obsessing over whether I can do X (insert any number of activities that induce my imposter syndrome/fear of failure) is exhausting. It drains me and I know it drives everyone around me NUTS.
I have struggled with this compulsion for all of my adult life. In 2012 I published a blog post on this exact topic as it related to me participating in a 5K fun run that I’d been training for….
“I mentioned in January that I had a couple of major sporting challenges coming up – the SunRun (6.5km course from DeeWhy to Manly) and the Cole Classic Ocean Swim (1KM entrant).Despite all my bravado in posts and in real life, as last week rolled around my fear of failure was in full flight. I spent the entire week stressing and losing sleep over the
Despite all my bravado in posts and in real life, as last week rolled around my fear of failure was in full flight. I spent the entire week stressing and losing sleep over the ‘what-ifs’….
What if I came lastWhat if people thought I was too slow
What if people thought I was too slow
What if I couldn’t finish
What if I disappointed my trainer
I had fleeting thoughts of not showing up. I had actual mental images of getting dropped off by my support crew and then just catching a bus down to Manly and pretending that I’d done it.
Have I mentioned that overthinking things is a theme for me? I gave myself a pep talk and reminded myself that I’d done all the required training, had actually done this exact run as a training exercise and wasn’t carrying any injuries….so the only thing standing between me and a successful finish was myself!
What happened you ask? I had a great time. I didn’t come last (not that it would have mattered). Lots of people passed me and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. My trainer and all the other trainers were incredibly supportive and positive about my achievement….
Did I say I had a great time? I had an AWESOME time. I felt invigorated. I felt strong. I was proud of myself and I was relaxed.
My support crew were there to cheer me through the finish line and the next day they were there again when I swam in the 1K Cole Classic and did my best time in three attempts….unsurprising really as I’m heaps lighter and heaps fitter than the two other times I’ve attempted it.
Truth be told I could have done the 2km but having had the SunRun the day before, I decided to be kind to myself and just swim in the 1K for the pleasure of it! There’s always next year to do the 2K and smash my best time 🙂
I’m going to try and keep NOT overthinking things….this morning I got up for my walk/jog and just went out and did it….last week I hid under the covers!!!
I’m actually sorry this weekend had to end…it was a pearler!!”
It’s four years later and my capacity for overthinking can still catch me off guard. I won’t pretend I’m always successful at talking myself down from the ledge. It’s hit and miss. I try and utilise the same technique I outlined here in 2012 – challenge the negative thoughts!
The other advice I find useful when I struggle with negative self-talk and over-thinking situations and my own ability is to imagine that I’m giving advice to a really close friend. If they were in this position, struggling with something, what would I say to them. Most of us are far kinder to others than we are to ourselves. I find this a really helpful method of showing myself some much-needed compassion.
Next time you’re in a situation that feels like you’re over-thinking things, try this approach to circumvent it.
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I work with executive assistants and administrative assistants to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to influence more effectively and demonstrate the leadership and interpersonal skills to make them a 'linchpin' to their boss and organisation.