Article 108: The danger of overthinking


Acclaimed pianist Vladimir Horowitz once said that the worst thing for a musician to do was to think about the position of his fingers as he played. Paying extra attention to the movement of your body as you perform may sound like a good idea, but in reality, overthinking will weaken your ability.

Overthinking is the main reason seasoned athletes choke at big events. Psychologist Sian Beilock calls this analysis paralysis. Beilock set up a study with college athletes to see how damaging it can be. She asked the students to dribble a football while thinking about which side of their foot was touching the ball. As they focused on this detail, their overall performance plummeted. They dribbled much slower than usual and they made significantly more mistakes than they would in regular training.

Overthinking is not just dangerous for athletes, but for rebel entrepreneurs too. When we think too much about anything, we feel physical pain, and this can disrupt business at any level. Overthinking occurs when there is too much activity on the left side of the brain and this translates physically. Neurophysiologist Dr Rita Eichenstein has seen how overthinking causes headaches, muscle tension and ulcers.

For rebel entrepreneurs, high-pressure situations are a regular part of life, and overthinking can make it difficult to navigate interviews, presentations and crucial meetings. However, there are a number of ways to nip it in the bud. If you find yourself stressing about something days or even weeks in advance, take the burden off your brain and jot those thoughts down on paper. This will reduce the activity in the left hemisphere and can positively redirect your attention. Another practical step is to practice the upcoming task in similar circumstances. Reassure yourself of your abilities and then allow yourself to go on autopilot. Additionally, focusing on something that is small and unrelated as you perform can ensure that your body is still on autopilot. When he took high-pressure shots, pro-golfer Jack Nicklaus claimed he would focus his attention on a single toe to ensure that he wouldn’t choke.




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