Battling Mental Blocks

Posted on Apr 2, 2019

Do you have trouble making decisions? People who have trouble making decisions tend to overthink everything.  Many struggle with mental blocks even in the most benign everyday situations.

I have a good friend who spends way too much energy making even the smallest decisions.  A perfect example is when we try to make dinner plans. In the past, I would offer suggestions that were never quite right for her.  Now I know there is no point to this. She needs to think and think and think before she can finally choose a place. I enjoy a good meal (especially when it is cooked and cleaned up by someone else), but I don’t need to think about it so much because I know I am choosing A MEAL. She treats this decision as if it was her LAST MEAL. 

Most decisions simply do not warrant that amount of overthinking.

The same is true for accomplishing a task. You can overthink it to the point of creating a mental block.  This is what usually happens for people who struggle with procrastination. If the process goes on long enough, it actually inhibits action and can shut us down on the simplest of tasks.

When we find ourselves in this situation, it’s important to remember these few points.

Don’t talk yourself out of something before you even get started.

Sometimes, just getting started on a new task is an obstacle in itself. The brain does not like a question mark. The fact that the outcome is an unknown can trigger self-doubt strong enough to keep us stuck. Taking the first step is often more challenging than completing the task. To get started, break the task down into steps. It could be the smallest baby step in the world, but a baby step is better than no step at all.

If it is worth considering, it is worth doing.

Self-doubt can be so strong that you want to give up altogether.  You may think, “Why did I even start this? Is it worth it?” This is code for “Am I worth it?” Often, we avoid the task to escape these painful thoughts.  We go for the quick relief that avoidance brings.  However, when we avoid, we are not relieved of the tasks or the emotions attached to them.  They simply stay on our minds, sucking our energy. The only way of getting rid of this energy drain is to simply do the task we are avoiding.

Some goals take a long time. Be patient and honor your progress.

Any creative endeavor starts with an idea. Whether you’re writing an essay, making a presentation for work or painting your next masterpiece – perfectionism can make it impossible to finish the work. We keep tinkering with the project until all the joy is taken out of the experience. Often, we become so focused on the goal that we miss the beauty of the work we’ve put in. Remember, the end result is only a portion of the achievement.

Whether your mental block is rooted in fear, self-doubt or frustration, remember that taking action is the most important next step.

When you hit a mental block, remind yourself of how you got as far as you have.

Celebrate the small achievements along the way. Use them as motivation to keep working toward your goal.