Overthinking may be holding you back.
Introduction: Moving to a New City
Just recently I moved to a new city. The thought of leaving my hometown was daunting for many reasons.
First of all, none of my family members nor my partner moved with me. I know no one in town other than my new apartment manager.
I will be starting a doctoral program in a couple of days, and the thought of starting the program is nerve-racking in itself.
I had never lived anywhere other than Los Angeles. Therefore, there was a big learning curve in adapting to the new environment. Learning new streets, finding places where I could run my errands, etc.
The First Few Days
In the days leading to my move, I felt sad and nervous. I expected myself to feel miserable being away from home and alone. I was used to being around my boyfriend often and seeing my family on the weekends. I was the “glue” to it all back home, filling in the gaps when my family or my boyfriend’s family needed me, helping in every way I could. I feared no longer felt important to my loved ones, and possibly also disconnected from everything I knew.
The first day in my new apartment was difficult for me. I ran into a few troubles unpacking and assembling new furniture and appliances. Usually, I would have called my boyfriend or mom for help, but this time I was on my own.
By the second day, I became familiar with the new area and explored my school and other places that would become my new norm. That evening, I decided that I wanted to try one of the hiking trails nearby since the city is known for its beautiful mountains and hills. But because all the trails I found reported many encounters with rattlesnakes and coyotes, I became very ambivalent. Late at night that day, I decided that even if it scared me, I could at least try a very short trail and see for myself what the experience would be like.
That next morning, I went to the gym for an hour just to lift a few weights to start off my morning. Lately, I have mostly been listening to music while working out. But this time I decided to listen to the first motivational video that was suggested on my youtube feed. It was one by David Goggins, a retired United States Navy Seal, former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member, American ultra-marathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, public speaker, and author.
Within the first few minutes of the video, Goggins explained that most people never accomplish their greatest feats and goals because they overthink the situation. When faced with a new challenge or milestone, it is natural to feel fear. There are many unknowns to face. Will you survive? Will things be okay afterward? What happens if you fail?
However, it’s these same questions that we ponder, and the other thoughts that follow. Such as, “I will never be anything in life,” “I am not enough,” I’m going to make a fool of myself” that hold us back.
If you have ever heard about cognitive-behavioral therapy, then you’re aware of the theory of how what we think (thoughts) and feel (emotions) affect what we do (behaviors), and vice versa. Therefore, if we allow our thoughts to be the main driver when approaching a challenge that makes us fearful and anxious, then we can expect our emotions to overwhelm us to the point of no longer going through with our desired actions.
Of course, if the situation can cause harm to you, or another person, then taking the time to really think through a situation is a reasonable, tactical step toward doing the right thing. But if you’re thinking about the situation for the sake of thinking about it, and especially if you’re overthinking, then a more productive approach would simply take action.
In other words, simply jump. Our doubts and fears will cloud our judgment of our potential. But if we simply take action, we are indirectly telling our mind and body that we trust them to protect us and achieve anything placed in front of us. The greatest of the great have often advised to “go for it.”
Taking the Jump
So later that morning I went for one of the short trails I found the night before. My breathing was short on my drive to the hills, and I could feel a slight headache developing from the nervousness.
After parking my car, I saw a mountain biker start his ride, and I followed the same trail he took. The trail was wide, and in between multiple small hills. There was a tall incline, which at the peak I could see the whole city. From afar I spotted a lonely coyote simply wandering around. The trail had many people walking it, and I even found a few friendly ladies who talked to me for about half a mile.
After less than an hour of walking, I finished my hike and not only felt a sense of relief but also found it humorous that I was very close to not exploring any of the hiking trails in the area because of my fears.
I wasn’t necessarily fearful of the snakes or coyotes, since I had encountered them before back home while hiking through the mountains. But because I felt overwhelmed by all the newness of the move. I would go hiking alone, on a new trail, on a new hill set, within a new city, and go back to my new home. But in simply taking that leap of faith, I came to found my first, favorite hiking trail in the area.