If you’re a person who likes to over-think things, you’re cheating your potential.
Self-reflection is a uniquely human ability to see ourselves from the outside and look inwards. We can examine our thoughts, our emotions and even our behaviors almost like we are looking at another person.
This ability takes some time to develop in us, and it is typically in our first 5 years of life that we develop a Theory of Mind and are able to self-reflect. As we move into our teenage an young adult years, this ability becomes stronger.
To make it simple, imagine that human beings have two parts: the inner and outer.
The inner world is our thoughts, our emotions, our memories. It is where we make plans and dream up new dreams. Without this inner world we wouldn’t make choices for ourselves and would only be able to led by others.
The outer world is where we take action and impact. It’s where our lives intersect with the lives of others. It’s also the place where we do most of our living. Through action and reaction, we shape our existence and make something of ourselves in the world.
What I have noticed is those people who progress in life spend the majority of their time in the outer world. Meaning they act just as much (if not more) than they think.
They tend to be very active, quick decision makers. They correct their behavior and their plans as they go along. Because of this, they are learning and adapting in collaboration with the world, and the world is adapting and being shaped to them.
This is a very important point: you can’t shape the world around you if all you do is think about it.
You need to take some action, get involved in life, and do stuff.
It’s when you’re ‘doing stuff’ that your energy is used productively. Even an act as simple as writing or speaking out your ideas to the world is better than only thinking about them.
What I’ve learned is that when I take an action, especially one that leads me closer to a goal, I seem to gain a lot of energy. A sense of momentum and control emerges that I can’t get from just thinking about things.
I believe that the ability to self-reflect is a good thing. It enables us to see ourselves objectively and work on improving ourselves. We can sometimes catch ourselves thinking about doing something before we do it, and make a change. For this reason, this ability is important to our growth.
But there is a danger that comes along with too much self-reflection. When it starts to take up the majority of your energy, you know you’ve gone too far. When you become too self-reflective your energy gets wasted on the inner world instead of making a difference in your outer world.
Don’t over-think it. Do it.