How many times at the end of a day have you ended up with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” over things that you didn’t do during the day? It happens to us all. There are things that we hesitate doing out of some fear of the unknown. Perhaps we avoid meeting or greeting someone because they look different from us. Or maybe we don’t go someplace because of some totally unfounded fear. Maybe we do not even attempt to do something new because we fear that we will fail.
A couple of quotes that I’ve had laying around for a while seem appropriate –
“A small act is worth a million thoughts.” (Ai Weiwei)
“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” – Brené Brown
In the weekly prayer for forgiveness that we use at my church we ask God for forgiveness for “the things that we have done and for those things left undone.” It is in those things left undone that most us need to seek forgiveness, especially those things eft undone when it come to helping others. We spend too much time thinking, or worrying, about reasons not to do something and the moment quickly passes. Maybe we spend too much time thinking about how we might do something and again the moment passes. That is where the words of Al Weiwei really apply. We can have a million thoughts of doing wonderful things, but if we do not act they are worthless. One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was,” the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” You can easily substitute “thoughts” for the word intentions.
Brown’s words, too, speak to overcoming our initial fears and actually trying (showing up) new things. Each time we get through that barrier of fears we become a bit braver for the next time. Even if we show up and one of our fears proves to be true, the fact that we survived it or overcame it makes us a little braver for the next time. Hopefully we learn from the experience.
So, you have to act; you have to show up. Ending the day with the thoughts that, “I wish it had gone differently, but here’s what I learned”, is so much more satisfying than ending it with a case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” because you didn’t even try.
I recently watched a couple of videos about a home improvement product that is used in level out uneven floors. It’s a simple thing, really; just mix it up and pour it on the floor. There’s a little bit more to it, but not much and one piece of advice in the videos that was particularly valuable was “don’t over think this.”
I got to thinking (not about the product) that we all make that mistake of overthinking lots of very simple things in life, whether they be tasks that we have to accomplish or things like relationships. Things don’t have to be as complicated as we make them sometimes. In fact, I suspect that the simpler something is (or should be) the more we overthink it and make it more complex than it needs to be. That is a by-product of having very creative imaginations and probably too much time on our hands.
Have you ever run into people who are always asking you, “what did you mean by that?” For some reason, these people want to (or need to read something into everything, even if there was no hidden meaning in whatever it was that you said. If you say, “you look good today”, they take it to mean that you didn’t look good yesterday or that you usually don’t look good, but today you do. They are overthinking everything that you say and probably everything else in their lives.
The same thing can happen to people who are asked to perform simple tasks for someone else, like watching their house while they are gone or getting in the mail. All of a sudden their imaginations conjures up all sorts of things that could go wrong or reasons for the request that go beyond the obvious. They are overthinking that simple request.
Sometimes relationships get overthought, too. One of the parties in the relationship may start wondering why the other party likes them or what they may want from them. They may conjure up convoluted scenarios of plots or schemes by the other party. After all, there must be a reason or motive for their interest, right? That’s overthinking things.
Most things in life are as simple and straightforward as they appear, without guile or suspicious motives. I tend to be the type that trusts people until they prove me wrong and not the other way around. I feel bad for people who go into every relationship encounter with suspicion or fear. I think the best advice is that that was given for the home improvement product – don’t over think this. Learn to just go with the flow and let people into your life without concern or fear that they are somehow out to do you some undefined harm. Open up to them and they will open up to you.
Got to go now, I think I might have overthought this topic. Have a great, simple and straightforward day. Don’t overthink it.