Michele Attias Life Coach

Stop Overthinking And Start Doing

A few months ago, after a trip abroad which included vast amounts of airline delays and cancellations, I was given the opportunity to claim a hefty compensation.

All I needed to do was to complete a compensation form and send off to the airline.

The form was printed off immediately yet stood in my office for weeks after we had returned from our break, I had so many thoughts about completing it.

The thought storm which ensued included the following favourites from my playlist;

They would never take my claim seriously.

Who am I to claim against a global airline.

It was my word against theirs (I had to prove the extent of the delay).

You get the picture.

I’m sure you have your own favourite thoughts that pop up to sabotage any action you might be about to take.

My own personal thoughts were so convincing that I made the mistake of searching online for the percentage of people who get compensations from airlines, and the figures were pretty grim, so my resolve stayed. Over the days I told myself that when I have time and when I’m not too busy, I’ll do it.

It took me exactly six weeks to complete (an activity which had taken an hour at most to do).

Less than ten hours after I had sent all the paperwork in the post, a news report announced that the airline company I had just written to had gone bust.

That airline company was Monarch Airlines, and the fee that was owed to me was one thousand two hundred pounds to be exact.

Had I completed the form earlier on, the fee would have been safely nestled into my account, as it had been for a number of other passengers who claimed immediately after.

The amount of overthinking and questioning myself was a time-consuming exercise which had no other benefit other than to stall the process and not allow for the present moment to be attended to.

The author of the ‘Power of Now’ Eckhart Tolle stated;

The decision to make the present moment your friend is the end of the ego.

Never would I have imagined after over twenty years of flying with this airline, that it would collapse. But it did.

It taught me a valuable lesson; today is all we have, pushing things off and leaving things for later, someday, one day, is simply pointless, because it just doesn’t get done.

More importantly, nothing is here forever (not even Monarch Airlines). We need to seize each moment with both hands.

We have one opportunity to act, execute and deal with an issue, but often we’re just too busy, being busy with nothing at all. A busy mind is often a mask for avoidance. We wait for that moment when we’re confident when our self-esteem has risen and when we feel better.

We all have ‘To do’ lists right?

How about a ‘Not to do’ list — I have to credit my previous coach David Schwendeman who coined this phrase and brought it to life for me.

If my ‘Not to do’ list comprises of not doubting myself, not waiting for the opportune moment, not procrastinating and not being at the mercy of people pleasing, surely there would now be time to complete my ‘To do’ list with full focus.

How many times have you wanted to do something, but it’s postponed with no real measure of when it will be done? It’s simply pushed to one side for that perfect moment.

If today was all you had left, what would you be engaged in?

More importantly, what would happen to the overthinking that would normally plague your day? I imagine it would have to be swept to one side. There is no time to nurture it, so you better make time for what’s important.

We need to get to the core of what stops you from doing what you want, strip it right back to the core, rather than putting another plaster onto a gaping wound.

So what are you overthinking?

There is always one thought in the playlist of your over-thinking that overrides them all, like the leader in the pack of hungry wolves. Always one which shouts louder than the rest. You know which one it is as it’s the one thought which continues to be the stumbling block between you and what you want.

Slow down and reflect on this one thought.

Author of ‘Loving what is’ Byron Katie poses a very simple, yet powerful question which I often ask my clients when I coach them.

Who would you be without that thought?

The thought could be ‘I’m not enough’ which means you’re running around trying to prove yourself, or old favourites such as ‘I must keep up appearances’ and ‘no one likes me.’

Like dragging the cobwebs out of the attic, this is the time to do a clean up of what goes on up there — in your mind.

Most people feel that analysing these thoughts is the answer, yet what this does is it holds the thoughts in place and makes them real. Just because a negative thought comes into your mind, it doesn’t mean you have to sit down and make it a cup of tea.

Remember that the longer you leave the teabag in, the stronger it becomes. It’s the same with thinking.

Yet you’re always a thought away from experiencing life differently.

Educator and Psychologist Dr Dicken Bettinger stated;

Our understanding of the play of thought allows us to stand open and receptive in the face of any thought, whether of love or grief. It flows through us naturally, then a deeper unconditional love arises that embraces all of life as it is and it flows out of us to touch those around us.

I remember coaching a successful businesswoman a while back. In her business, she had a pattern of achieving amazing success at the very beginning and then she would stop. This meant that she achieved initially, but it was done fast, and by the time she had reached the first hurdle, she was completely exhausted and burnt out.

There was no real flow in the way she approached her work and progression within it. Whilst all her colleagues would continue up the career path at a more consistent pace, she would run past them initially, then get stuck.

It’s like beginning the 5K marathon, putting all your energy in the first stage of the race, then feeling exhausted and unable to take a single step further.

This pattern had been consistent in her life, simply because the engine she was running from was ‘I’m not enough’ and ‘I need to prove myself.’ This would mean that she was certainly doing, but it was all being driven by stress and anxiety.

She was overthinking it, and not only was this not working, but it was also not enjoyable.

I asked her the question,

Who were you before that thought came into play?

Her face softened, she smiled cheekily and began to tell me what a fun person she used to be, almost as if she was speaking about a person who she used to know and has now disappeared into the distance.

My task was to tease this person out; that is, her real self, the one before the overthinking of ‘I’m not enough’ filtered through.

We explored what it would be like to bring in 1% more fun into her business. In fact, bringing more of her real self into the equation. She smiled, it was an exciting prospect.

She lived in Malta so I asked her to take a few hours off, go jet skiing, dancing, maybe even take a class in paddle surf. Rediscover and tease out the fun part of her which had been hidden behind the vast amount of overthinking.

If she was going to show up from fun, lightness and relaxed state, she would also model this to her team.

As time went on, she began to incorporate more fun into her life, she noticed that she felt more relaxed and was running from a different engine (she even took a paddle surf class). The over thinking had been replaced by overindulgence of fun moments, and lightness which brought about more creativity, possibility and laughter. A great recipe for a successful business mindset.

It was no more complex than this, and it modelled a great way of being for the team she had to manage and motivate.

Not sure why people believe that work has to be serious, dark, complex.

it’s no wonder people look so miserable on the London underground station at 8.30am. Look at those dour faces, hiding either behind the Metro newspaper or on the phone playing a variety of games to keep their mind reaching for something, anything.

As an example, let’s take Google, which is one of the most successful American multinational technology company. You would imagine their workspace being stuffy since technology doesn’t invite a prospect of fun, laughter or play.

However, Google’s offices around the world reflect it’s philosophy, which is nothing less than ‘To create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.’

When walking through the Google office or campus you can find a dizzying excursion through play areas, coffee shops, open kitchens, terraces with chaise, and conversation areas designed to look like vintage cars.

One of the most successful companies in the world uses fun, rather than allowing their employees to be serious or overthink their way into success.

This isn’t about pushing a positive psychology mentally or always being happy, it’s simply owning the fact that we’re constantly living our thinking which impacts everything we do and how we interact with the world.

Whether it’s about claiming compensation on an airline or something far more serious, our reaction will always be determined by the way our thoughts interpret a situation, which then leads us into the next action we take.

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