Ever since I was very young, I have been notorious for over-thinking. My mom used to lovingly joke that I wasn’t “slow,” I just needed a little extra time to think things through. She wasn’t wrong. To me, it is somewhat of a strength and a weakness. On one hand, I look at every situation thoroughly. On the other, it takes more time, effort, and energy than I would like, and it is not always clear that the decision is any better.
“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” – Diane Sawyer
Now, let me be clear. Thinking through decisions does often lead to better decisions. But there is a breaking point. If you believe that you can reason yourself into the correct answer every time, then you may begin to feel obligated to do so. This in turn can send you spiraling down a dark tunnel. Then, by the time you’ve thought your way to the “end” of making big decisions, you sometimes have actually created more problems than you ever needed to. That’s because deep reasoning when the situation does not demand it often leads to what I call “scenario planning”. It’s the just-in-case planning that we all do when thinking about the future. “What if he says this? What if they say that? If they do this, I’ll do that.” Etcetera.
Deep reasoning when the situation does not demand it often leads to “scenario planning.”
Here’s the twist: 99% of the scenarios we come up with in our head never actually come to fruition. And yet, they dominate so much of many of our thinking processes. Just as ironic is the fact that many of us then resort to a metaphorical coin toss after running countless thought exercises in an attempt to come to a solution.
Now What Does This Have to Do With Mountains?
Well, everything. The moment you realize that not every decision is worthy of the fullest extent of your logical processing, making decisions becomes notably simpler. This doesn’t mean that you should “YOLO” your way through life. It means that you can begin to acknowledge that some decisions are made outside of logical reasoning. These are things that we just know and it just feels right. That is, all of us have intuition.
In order to get comfortable relying on intuition, we need the key ingredient: faith. Now I know that this can sound religious, but in reality, it’s not. Faith is just trust or confidence in something or someone. I’m not asking you to trust God, or even the universe. I am asking you to trust YOU. Trust that on some level, you know what is best for yourself. Even if you don’t see it now. That faith can move mountains, even if when we don’t understand it.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
You’re Saying ‘Have Faith in Yourself’, But What About ‘Lean Not on Your Own Understanding’?
Yes. There is no contradiction here. The point I am making is that your understanding is not complete. Your understanding is a partial picture. When you lean too heavily on your own understanding, you mistake it for reality. That is where the faith comes in. Your faith is an acknowledgment that while you may not understand everything, you will allow yourself to be guided by your intuition when the situation demands it.
We do not actually make decisions. Decisions make us. We are defined by both what we decide to do and what we do not.
As the quote goes, “your beliefs can move mountains, your doubts can create them.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts
We need to remember that sometimes we can actually create the doubts that plague us. We don’t do it on purpose but the constant need to understand, as demonstrated by overthinking, can and often does backfire. Decide, then have enough faith to act.
“Faith that it’s not always in your hands or things don’t always go the way you planned, but you have to have faith that there is a plan for you, and you must follow your heart and believe in yourself no matter what.” – Martina McBride
I have come to the conclusion that we do not actually make decisions. Decisions make us. We are defined by both what we decide to do and what we do not. This means the stakes are high for our decisions. Yet, the truth is that sometimes there is no exact right answer. In those cases, you have to simply take a deep breath, trust your gut instinct, and have some faith. Faith moves mountains, doubts create them.