I Was Overthinking about Overthinking…

I feel like I overthink things sometimes.  Some friends would tell you I overthink things a lot, maybe even most of the time.  Personally, I think it’s more a case where I like to see things from various perspectives because I’m an open-minded person.  But it got me thinking (maybe even, overthinking?) about the topic of overthinking.  So I decided to take a look at what causes us to overthink.

From what I’ve gathered, there’s three main reasons why we overthink things.  The first is a lack of confidence, which causes us to second guess ourselves.  When you’re confident in your ability to do something, your thinking becomes rather automatic and you don’t overthink something before doing it.  Quite frankly, you probably barely think at all in these cases.  But when you lack confidence, it causes you to really second guess yourself, which leads to overthinking something which might actually be pretty basic.

The second reason we overthink is due to a lack of experience.   Experience makes you more mature, and consequently makes you more confident.  As you gain more experience and confidence, your “need” to overthink things becomes greatly reduced.

The third reason that we overthink is due to the desire to be perfect.  Perfectionism is just a waste of time, because it’s impossible to be perfect.  It’s inevitable that things will not always go our way.   You could try to argue with me that a pro boxer, such as former super middleweight and light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe who retired with a record of 46-0 was perfect.  However, upon further examination he wasn’t (for the record, I was a Calzaghe fan, so I’m not picking on him).  It’s not as if we won every single round he fought.  It’s also not as if he didn’t taste defeat at some point in his career, because he did reportedly lose 10 amateur fights before he turned professional.  No matter what it looks like on the surface, no one is perfect.  So stop trying to be.

So in the end, remember this.  The first key to breaking your overthinking habit (which is, just a habit, which like all habits can be broken through practicing new habits) is to gain experience.  It’s normal to feel anxiety and a lack of confidence when trying something new, but take the risk of trying something new without torturing yourself with overthinking.  It’s a waste of time and mental energy.  With that newfound experience comes newfound confidence, which will lead you to reduce the amount of time spent overthinking.

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Another Look at Confidence

To follow up on my review of The Confidence Gap, I’d like to share a few extra tidbits on confidence:

  • You can have confidence without being arrogant. From my observation, those who are arrogant actually lack true confidence and are insecure with themselves.
  • Feelings of authentic and genuine confidence allows you to stay motivated and positive, especially when facing difficult challenges.
  • Failure can cause us to lose confidence. It can provide you with evidence that maybe you shouldn’t be as confident as you are.  But that leads to self-doubt, and the voice of self-doubt is often lying, or at least exaggerating, when speaking to you.
  • Have a good support team. Having a good social circle helps you maintain your confidence level.
  • Continue to work hard. Confidence can be about momentum, so collect some “wins” along the way and ride the tidal wave of success to becoming more confident.
  • Rarely is an anxiety-inducing challenge an actual threat to you, so don’t perceive it as such. It’s simply a challenge that’s waiting to be conquered.  In fact, sometimes we need to experience more adversity and more obstacles because it’s a good experience, and a great way to earn more confidence.
  • There’s going to be times when you feel less confident than usual. This doesn’t make you someone with low self-esteem or a lack of confidence.  Rather, it just means you’re a normal person experiencing bumps in the road.
  • Remember, you don’t have to be perfect to have genuine and authentic confidence.

A Look at The Confidence Gap

A few months ago, I read The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris, and it turned out to be a great read in my opinion (if you’re interested in checking it out, here’s a link https://www.amazon.com/Confidence-Gap-Guide-Overcoming-Self-Doubt/dp/1590309235/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481812266&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Confidence+Gap).  While I don’t want to do the author an injustice and tell you everything he said in the book, I’d like to discuss some key points that he made that I feel are important.

  • Act First, Feel Later. A lot of people are under the impression that you have to FEEL confident before you can ACT/BEHAVE with confidence, but that’s not true.  Actually, it’s the other way around.  You have to act with confidence first before you feel confident.  Confidence is something that’s “earned,” you don’t just naturally possess it.  Take a moment to think about something in your life that you struggled with at first, whether it was a new job responsibility or starting a graduate degree.  Chances are you didn’t necessarily feel confident at first, but you persevered, acted with confidence, and eventually began to feel confident.  It’s the same with everyday life, whether it’s social confidence or professional confidence, confidence is something that’s earned through practice.
  • Helpful Thoughts vs. Unhelpful Thoughts. Most people perceive their thoughts as either being positive or negative, and while that’s not necessarily bad, it can be better for you to perceive them as being helpful or unhelpful instead.  For example, perhaps you’re worried about losing your job.  That’s a negative thought, which could make you feel bad.  However, that negative thought could actually prove to be helpful because it can motivate and inspire you to work harder at your job and pursue job security or even a promotion.  So in the end, that “negative thought” actually proved to be rather helpful, didn’t it?
  • Make Room For Unpleasant Emotions. Most people hate feeling bad, and try to avoid and completely eliminate negative emotions. But this is impossible.  Even positive psychologists struggle with negative emotions and bad feelings.  The key isn’t to eliminate them, but rather to let them come and go freely and to focus less on them.  For example, if you’re out with a group of friends one night and suddenly someone you dislike shows up at the same party or establishment, would you completely tune out your friends that you’re having fun with in favor of focusing on how much you want the person you dislike to leave? Probably not.  Why let 1 person take away from the positive energy that the other people are giving you? It’s the same thing with bad feelings.  Why allow the negative feeling to completely negate the positive feelings?
  • Be The Person You Want To Be.  Finally, picture the person you’d be, or aspire to be, if you had complete and total confidence.  Now make a list of the changes you want to make to become that person.  After that, begin to act with the confidence of that person you want to be, and eventually you’ll find that you actually feel confident and are the person you’ve always wanted to be.

I/O Psychology and the Blue Jays Clubhouse “Issues”

I was reading through the Toronto Sun at work this morning, when I came across Steve Buffery’s article entitled “What’s going on inside the Blue Jays clubhouse?” (link: http://www.torontosun.com/2016/09/29/whats-going-on-inside-the-blue-jays-clubhouse )

So since this was a rare opportunity for me to get to discuss two of my favorite things, I/O psychology and baseball, in one great blog article, I figured I’d jump at the chance and share my “hot take” on the matter.

The line in the article that really jumped out to me was “does a team with confidence bother with crap like that,” in regards to the Blue Jays’ players apparently having pictures of a pair of reporters on their clubhouse wall with a caption that says (something to the extent of) “do not grant them interviews” and turning the music up real loud when interviews are being conducted.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Buffery that the behavior is unprofessional of sorts.  I know I wouldn’t appreciate that sort of behavior, at least in regards to publicizing my co-worker’s enemy list, on a wall in plain sight at my workplace.  But I wasn’t there when whatever prompted the rift between these reporters and the Blue Jays happened, so I can’t necessarily say if this punishment and public shaming is absolutely warranted.  But if this is the sort of workplace culture the Blue Jays want, and it helps them perform on the field, then I don’t have an issue with it.  Then again, is this public shaming any different than a pizza place that puts the bounced checks of past customers on a “wall of shame” to embarrass them until they pay up?

It’s unfair for the media to overlook the human emotion aspect of baseball, and quickly jump to conclusions that perceived juvenile and unprofessional behavior implies a lack of confidence.  I’d like someone to explain to me how this behavior implies a lack of confidence, or even a lack of leadership.  Who’s to say that leadership in the clubhouse didn’t decide that it was best for the team to ignore the two media members moving forward? Who’s to say that those two media members don’t provide bulletin board motivation?

One line in the article said “the New York Yankees would never allow (this) in their clubhouse.”  Who cares? The Blue Jays aren’t the Yankees, and obviously their work environment isn’t going to be the same as the Yankees.  Not all work environments are cookie cutter, even in the non-sports world.  Just look at the way Google operates in their workplace culture.  Who’s to say that the Blue Jays can’t be the Google of baseball when it comes to work environment and clubhouse culture?

So in a nutshell, are the Jays acting a bit unprofessional when it comes to dealing with the media? Sure, maybe a little bit.  Do I wish the Jays would treat the media with some more respect? Sure, I enjoy reading player quotes as much as the next person.  But much like how professional athletes don’t owe fans anything, I don’t think they necessarily owe the media anything either.  Yes, it’s great to build your own personal brand and be accessible, but not at the expense of being disrespected in the process.  I’m a firm believer in treating others how they treat you, especially if you’re being disrespected, so if a player on the Blue Jays truly has been wronged by a media member, I have no issue with this “unprofessional” behavior.

The fact of the matter is that this is a tense time for the Blue Jays, and they would feel that tension regardless of their confidence level.  I think the author of the Toronto Sun article needs to realize that having confidence doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated fear and nerves, but rather you’ve learned how to allow those emotions and find a way for them to energize you.

My Review of The Fighter’s Mind

I recently took a break from reading The Confidence Gap (not because I disliked it in the least, but because I like to mix up what I’m reading sometimes) so I decided to check out The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan.  I’m always interested in hearing someone tell a story from their perspective, so I figured this book could act as a sort of unofficial sports psychology book, which is something that interests me.

As someone who enjoys psychology, and specifically sports and work psychology, The Fighter’s Mind turned out to be an excellent book to read.  Sam Sheridan interviewed several people in the fighting world, asking them questions about what makes someone a good fighter.  But the qualities that he discovered aren’t limited to success only in fighting, but in all walks of life.

Here are a few takeaways from the book, as well as my reflection on my own life while reading the book, that I’d like you to keep in mind, whether you’re mentoring someone or you’re the one learning:

  • How you deal with and perceive failure/defeat/setbacks is important. Learn how to learn from these adversities.  You need practice and failure in order to improve
  • You become what you believe you are. Success is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and if you believe that you cannot do something then you’ve made yourself incapable of doing it
  • Coaches need to believe in their students; Students need to trust and respect their coaches
  • There’s no top limit or end; Regardless of how good you are right now, you can always improve and reach a new level
  • When you go up against higher competition, you get more out of yourself
  • Confidence, maturity, and feeling relaxed is something that comes from experience
  • Have a good social support system
  • Control your emotions, because anger and frustration take away your stamina
  • Be humble and open-minded enough that you can learn from everyone around you
  • Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun, and remember why you’re doing it – because you enjoy it
  • Keep things in perspective, and when you need to create a new perspective
  • Everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to feel like what they do matters and has a purpose

While everyone I just listed is important, my absolute two major takeaways here are that how you perceive and believe in your abilities is absolutely vital to how successful you are at anything.  In addition, so is how you react to adversity.  So if you can focus on only two things here, I’d want you to train yourself on believing in yourself, and train yourself on embracing and overcoming adversity.

Buckley Blog Bits – August 29, 2016

I’m just rambling with some random thoughts here today, after enjoying a great weekend in Toronto watching the Blue Jays, as well as reading a bit…

  • Don’t Procrastinate and Wait Til Next Time: I used to say “I’ll do it next time” a lot in regards to fun things I wanted to do because I was in a rush to get somewhere else, but I decided to stop doing that and just do something when I want to even if it means I might be a few minutes late for my next destination, and it feels great to do that. For example, the harbor area near the arena and ballpark in Buffalo has been very nicely re-developed lately, so I had wanted to go for a walk and just sit and watch the water for a while (lots of psychology books discuss the relaxing feeling you get from watching water), so after a recent Bisons game I decided to head down to the harbor, sit down, and just allow myself to relax for a little while. Sure, I got home a few minutes later than I originally planned on, but what was I really going to do at home with those “extra” 15 minutes or so? This works into the idea of jam packing my schedule that I discussed in a recent article, and maximizing the most of my time every day to live my life to the fullest.  Another example is that I decided to stop in Batavia and go to the Muckdogs’ game on the way home from Toronto over the weekend, just because I felt like it instead of making myself wait until another time to go to a game there.  So maximize the opportunity and do as much as you can in as little of you can, instead of making yourself wait “until next time.”
  • You Don’t Necessarily Fail at Goals: If you don’t reach your goal by your deadline, did you really fail at it? I doubt it. You still did a better job than you would’ve had you not had the goal in the first place, plus you can just extend your deadline by a little bit in order to hit that goal you’re seeking to achieve.  For example, I would’ve liked to finish my undergraduate degree in four years, but I did it in four and a half.  Did I fail at the goal because I didn’t achieve it in my ideal timeframe? Not really, because I still finished my degree, it just took me a few months longer than I would’ve preferred.
  • Keep a Journal: You don’t necessarily need to blog about it (this isn’t even all my thoughts, these are just the ones I choose to disclose publicly because I think they can help others see things from a new perspective) but writing things down can be beneficial. Personally, my mind races a lot and I have this strange paranoia about “losing” my thoughts, which is why I write a lot of them down.  I practically never even go back to read any of my random assortment of thoughts (to be honest, I actually hate re-reading old thoughts), but I enjoy the peace of mind I obtain by writing them down if I need to come back to them.
  • Acquiring Confidence: Confidence doesn’t just show up spontaneously. You have to earn it, by acting the way you’d like to behave, and by practicing the skills that you want to be good at, whether it’s a skill at a sport, or improving your social skills.  For example, I had no clue what I was doing when I first started playing park golf, and was pretty self-conscious when I shot a +6 the first time I ever played it.  But over time, I’ve played the game more frequently and gotten better at it and now I’m pretty confident in my skillset, all while I’m striving to beat my new personal best score of a -6.
  • There’s Always Another Level: Simply put, no matter how good you are at something already, you can ALWAYS get better. So my focus has always been on widening the gap between the person I am right now at this moment, and who I was in the past, whether it’s who I was yesterday, last week, last year, or even 10 years ago.
  • Balance: So…how do you balance staying positive, being a realist, while allowing negative thoughts, and refraining from being arrogant when you do something super awesome while remaining upbeat after being labeled as a failure when you don’t reach that goal on time even though you’re pretty good at something else already and are trying to be happy with where you are now while still striving to be even better? Great question. Isn’t life awesome like that?

So in conclusion here, keep these key points in mind:

  • Maximize the opportunity and enjoy yourself as much as you can
  • You don’t really fail at goals, even if you don’t fully accomplish what you want to
  • Write your thoughts down because it’s just easier to let go of them, and it allows your brain to filter the unwanted crap out of it
  • Not everything is universal. What works for me isn’t guaranteed to work for you, and what works for you isn’t guaranteed to work for me.  It’s your life.
  • Confidence doesn’t just appear spontaneously. You have to earn it through practice and acquiring your desired skill set.
  • Always strive for the next level. That doesn’t mean you can’t take satisfaction in where you are now, but always be motivated to top your personal best.
  • Focus on the present. Pretty much, it’s great to have future goals and I encourage that, but keep in mind that life can change in an instant (I’m not looking to provide you with more anxiety, but it’s true) so take advantage of where you are right now and keep your focus more on the “now” than the “then.”
  • Balance yourself out. Pretty much, stay positive while being a realist while you allow negative thoughts to flow through your mind on occasion while remaining to be upbeat because nothing is rarely ever “that bad.”
  • You don’t live once, you live everyday.  So keep that in mind.

Buckley Blog Bits – August 26, 2016

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately, so I just decided to share some of my thoughts about life in general that I think most people could benefit from knowing.

  • Start the day with something fun: This starts your day out on a positive note and makes you more optimistic about the rest of the day. There’s no need for you to delay some sense of gratification until after the work day is over.  You can do anything you want when you first wake up, whether it’s reading a book, watching some television, or working out.  Do anything that you want that will put you in a positive state of mind to start the day.  Personally, this is why I avoid reading texts or e-mails on my phone when I first wake up.  Rarely do I wake up to a negative message, but the few times I have really soured the rest of the day for me since I started on a negative note.  So I advise waiting to check those until you’ve gotten to work if you can afford to do so.
  • Make time for what you enjoy: We’re all living pretty busy lives. If you want time to do something fun, such as reading or working out (or whatever your hobbies are), then you need to make sure to jam that time into your schedule.  That extra time isn’t going to magically fall into your lap, so it’s up to you to take the initiative, stop procrastinating, and just do it.  It’s a fun feeling when you realize you’re getting the most out of your time on a daily basis.
  • Recognize that some negative thoughts are actually helpful: Of course, it sucks to be plagued by negative thoughts (it’s impossible to rid your mind of them entirely, so please don’t waste your energy trying), and sometimes your brain can just be a real douchebag. But if you take a different perspective of them, all of a sudden they’re really not incredibly negative and can actually be pretty helpful.  For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about a financial situation, it can actually be a positive because it can force you to probe further into the issue and come up with a strategy to get out of your situation.  It’s all about the way you spin your predicament that determines your reaction to it.
  • Be honest with yourself, but not harsh: It’s okay to be honest with yourself, but don’t get too harsh on yourself. No one wants to feel like crap, so why would you be any harsher on yourself than you have to be? It really doesn’t help you in the long run, so give yourself an honest assessment, but don’t beat yourself up in the process.
  • Understand that you can always improve: Don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you “could’ve done better” because everyone can always do better, regardless of their performance. But understand that there is always room for improvement, even if you are the best in the world at what you do, so let that be motivation for you.  If you’re working out, strive to set a new personal best.  If you’re saving money, strive to have a higher net worth.  If you’re learning a new language, strive to learn a few extra words each week.  Be happy with where you are now, but also be happy knowing that you have room to grow and further develop.
  • Tell People How You Feel: Just be honest. I know that sometimes the truth hurts and such, but there really isn’t much point in wasting time leading others on or not letting them not how you feel, whether it’s a professional relationship, a friendship, or a romantic relationship.  And I mean this for both positive and negative things.  People enjoy hearing that they’re appreciated, and that’s just a fact of life. But just because you know that you think highly of someone, that doesn’t mean that they know you think highly of them.  So please, just tell people how you feel as long as you’re genuine and sincere when you say things.  It might feel awkward to be that blunt, and it’ll probably take practice before you feel confident being this candid with others, but I can assure you the person you tell your compliment/comment to will appreciate hearing it and your life will be much less stressful as well.

 

  • On that note, thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I enjoy writing it on a regular basis, as it allows me to get my thoughts and opinions out there, and I do genuinely appreciate those of you who take the time on occasion to check-in and read what I was to say.