If you were to speak to the people closest to me, most of them would tell you I am not the most decisive person. More than likely they’d be able to give you a handful of examples. When it comes to choosing a restaurant for dinner, it could take my husband and I half an hour to land on where we want to dine for date night. I once called my mom during college to ask her, “Should I go to the gym, grocery shopping or tanning first?” I often stare at my iPhone comparing the slightest change in filter on Instagram, going back and forth for 20 minutes before finally asking Chris in my best eye doctor impression, “which is better 1… or 2…?”
I like to make the best decision possible; which means I spend a bit more time analyzing my options. For the most part, this intentional approach to decision making isn’t an issue – until it reaches the point of analysis paralysis.
If this is an unfamiliar term, allow me to enlighten you. Last week, I was struggling to make a decision about a physical therapy appointment I had scheduled. Working on accepting my body and developing a plan to strengthen it, I’ve found myself having to make a lot of decisions. What does my body need today? Yoga? A trip to the chiropractor? Or would the physical therapist be better this time around? Sitting on the floor of our bedroom, the blue-grey ikat patterned area rug pressed into my legs as my brain went into hyper mode. Does my body actually hurt? What if I move like this? What if I go to the PT and realize I actually needed my chiro? What are the pros of PT? Should I just push the appointment out? Okay – I’m going to go to the appointment. Deep breath, look around the room. Ugh, I don’t know! Should I? Compare again; consider sideways, backwards, and upside down; come to a decision, take a deep breath; start thinking again, waffle on said decision and begin again. This vicious cycle continues until the fateful moment where I freeze. Staring into space, decision-less, I recognize the familiar terrain – hello, analysis paralysis.
Defined by Wikipedia, “analysis paralysis… is the state of over-analyzing (or overthinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.”
The first time my friend introduced this term to me I might’ve literally cheered. “I’m not the only one this happens to?! Wow! What a relief!” When I get caught in the grip of analysis paralysis, it feels as if I’m standing in the middle of a cyclone –isolated in a vicious, life-sucking cycle with no way out. But the fact is, as soon as I stop wavering and make the decision, I’m out.
I don’t know what spurs on the over-analysis, but I have figured out that analysis paralysis is definitely a sign of anxiety for me. When I can’t make a seemingly simple decision it’s like an eye-twitch during a poker game; it’s my anxiety tell.
Luke 12:25-26 says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
Reading this verse in Luke was a much-needed shock to the heart. I know that sitting in the tornado of analysis, I am not going to add a single hour to my life; in fact, I am doing the exact opposite. The more time I spend worrying about a decision, the more time I take away from enjoying the joy and freedom that comes from placing my trust in the Lord.
Unfortunately I cannot avoid making decisions in my life (if I could, I would). But I can work on limiting the power a decision has over me. Next time analysis paralysis comes knocking on my door, I am going to revisit Luke 12 and run, not walk, towards a decision trusting that the Lord will guide me no matter what.