Analysis Paralysis (..and how to free up fear and build resilience)
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Iron rusts from disuse,
water loses its purity from stagnation...
even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
Analysis Paralysis is a strong form of hesitation, where forward motion and decision making become halted due to the inability to find a solution forward, generally by way of over-analyzing and over-thinking.
If you've ever been frustrated with yourself or as part of a team for falling into analysis paralysis, welcome to the club. It's easy to do and fairly common for teams to end up in this stuck place.
But I wouldn't close the door on the process, yet.
In mythology, it's often when the cards are stacked against the main protagonist when the magic happens. When no other options seem available that the way simply appears. When the doors are closing and the room is filling with danger, and they barely escape just "in the nick of time" (i.e. almost too late).
As uncomfortable as hesitation and analysis paralysis can be, it is also an opportunity to learn to see things differently. It is an opportunity to shift our mindset of forcing an outcome and trusting in the process to creatively build a solution.
So we are all on the same page, hesitation is defined as the psychological process of pausing in the course decision-making or taking action, typically due to uncertainty. Analysis Paralysis is the next step in this process where this hesitation and uncertainty leads to over-analyzing or over-thinking the best course of action, yielding a "paralysis" in decision-making and action.
The first challenge now is to learn to recognize the captivating trap of analysis paralysis.
... And also know that there is a way out to free ourselves from it.
Once you can catch it for what it is, "hey I/We notice are stuck here in this situation and I/We are getting stuck on making a decision. I know that more analysis will lead to more paralysis."
What you do next is really important...
And the trick to move through paralysis to creatively solve your situation at hand...
Let's slow things down.
Analysis likes to speed us up. It likes to push us into urgency and desperation to make a decision, whilst cutting us off from what helps us make rational decisions. This builds pressure and not everyone likes to feel the pressure of a decision while simultaneously trying to make a decision. It also saps our energy and leaves us feeling exhausted and drained.
Slowing things down helps us see the bigger picture, the resources we have available as well as the resources we don't have and may need. It helps is fine tune our rational thinking and grounds us in our bodies, our infinite source of wisdom.
Generally speaking, underneath the analysis paralysis is an unacknowledged fear along with a belief about it that keeps us stuck. Rather than feeling into it and accepting it for what it is, we attempt to escape and distance ourselves by rationalizing and analyzing. A coping method to distract us from the fear, whilst keeping us stuck in the same place.
To slow things down you can simply take a few moments pause to pause any further time and energy going into this stuck system. Take a couple deep breaths, you can even soften your gaze or close your eyes while you breathe. Simply notice your breath moving in and out, all on it's own. Simply track and notice your breath while you intentionally take a nano-break from your situation.
Slowing things down is difficult work, it goes against the grain of the status quo, and it can certainly feel awkward amongst your team. Breaking the compulsion to push for analysis can lead to other possibilities.
Another way to slow things down would be through pattern interruption by taking a break, stepping outside for a walk to get some physical and psychological distance from the matters at hand. Perhaps you can have your pace help slow things down, in addition to your breath.
And with this actionable step to slow things down, you are breaking the pattern.
And its well worth the moments in quiet, resting, awaiting new ideas and new possibilities to emerge. Ones that don't arrive through analysis.
And this is the hardest thing to do, to set it down to slow things down.. So much mental energy and habit goes into feeding the analysis, which feeds inaction.
When the pattern is really developed it can be like pushing hard and banging on a door that simply pulls to open. Analyzing the physics of door pushing and mechanics of door knobs won't tell you that the door opens by pulling not pushing. Something kinda like that.
And this is not make people feel bad for getting stuck in analysis paralysis, so much frustration comes from it. It can really be a problem for some people. And sometimes the problem of inaction outweighs the original problem, which can feed the pressure cooker of this system. And it sucks.
And truth be told, I'm writing about this because I also have a pattern of analysis paralysis. Over the years, I've learned that in order to move forward again I need to slow things down, take a breather and get some space. Doing this overtime yields the opportunity to creatively solve problems and build solutions. To see my situation differently and opportunities that may be available.
I work with a lot of clients who find themselves wrestling with analysis paralysis pattern as well. Reaching out for support and council can be really helpful to move through analysis paralysis. I generally guide them through the similar process of slowing things down and digging a bit deeper for solutions and actions. It's both a mindset shift and a perspective shift.
So the next time you notice yourself stuck inaction, remember to slow things down, take a few deep breaths, get a breather if you need to, and see what comes from giving your analytical mind a break. There must be something else in addition to your thinking mind that will help you into action.
This is the magic of breakthrough.
I can't actually tell you what the answer is, I can simply point you into the process of breaking one system (analysis paralysis) and supporting you into another process (clarity and action).
The best way to divert your attention would be to slow things down, take a few deep breaths and see what else can come from a place of clarity. And if you are still stuck, feel free to reach out and get some support.
I hope you've enjoyed this article and found value as it applies to your everyday life.
Stay tuned for more articles and insights.