I’ve heard the term analysis paralysis before. A friend called me introspective as a nicer way to describe my overthinking tendencies. But I experienced a moment that really highlighted for me how powerful that inner dialogue is, and how the cycle can be interrupted with one small gesture.
We walked in the woods, exhilarated by movement, fresh air, companionship, his dog happily darting around us.
He led, nonchalantly hopping from rock to rock across a stream; no hesitation, no pause in his stride, his confidence in himself evident. And normally I would follow suit, sure footed and carefree. An eye to the next step maybe, but more likely just focused on enjoying the moment.
For some reason though in that moment, I balked. And instantly clouded my head with doubts that paralyzed me. Standing on a rock, looking across what seemed an abyss, him already moving ahead on the other side. My thoughts racing, reverberating, just trapped.
I said out loud “I can’t do it”. And just as effortless as his stride he turned, glanced at the seemingly insignificant distance, and said “sure you can”. And that encouragement was enough for me to break the cycle and take the next step. That interruption of self doubt by a single reassurance.
It took a fraction of a second of doubt to completely stall me. And it took only a moment of someone else believing in me to be “un-stuck”.
This is why our inner thoughts are so important. I also have the power to change the moment for myself; with time and practice to train and redirect my own thoughts in those moments.
My doubts were nonsense and ridiculous. I could very clearly clear the space between the 2 rocks. But one singular moment of hesitation brought a barrage of self doubt. Conversely it took only one moment of encouragement from another to overcome it.
And this scenario plays out in a million different ways daily. The coworker who feels overwhelmed at tackling something new. The friend who is thinking about going back to school. The child interested in a new hobby. Partners facing a new relationship. Small hurdles in daily life.
Ultimately this one small moment sparked a much larger thought for me, reignited desires to maybe return to school. And whether I do or don’t, I credit this moment for provoking the belief that I can if I want to. Proof that you never know the ripples of a small act.
Offer what you can. “You can do it, you’d be great at that”, small words can mean so much to change an inner dialogue, to unstick a stuck thought. To propel someone to believe in themself. And work to sometimes be that voice for yourself!
Don’t underestimate the impact of kind words and supportive gestures, even in small moments.
Take the leap, believe in yourself as much as others do.