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It may be true that some people get so caught up with thinking that they get paralyzed— they spend so much time and wattage thinking that they neglect the “doing” part of life. 

It’s true that we need to find some way to nudge ourselves out of analysis paralysis and to take action when action is what is needed. 

The solution to this problem, though, isn’t to “think less.”

It always kills me when I see a personal growth “expert” exhort their followers to “stop thinking” and “start doing.” 

Look around you. 

Look at our political leaders (on all sides of the spectrum— this is emphatically NOT a partisan political statement). 

Look at the mishmash of emotion-driven hot takes that comprises your social media feed. 

Do you REALLY think that what we need is “less thinking?”

As a therapist, I can tell you that 80% of my day— if not more— is spent helping people develop tools and skills so they WON’T act impulsively. 

Impulse-driven, emotion-fueled behaviors, driven by half-baked decision-making, ruin people’s lives. 

“Stop thinking and start doing” is terrible advice, usually offered by people who want you to buy something they’re selling— but who don’t want you to think too deeply about your decision to purchase their product or not, because, well, that makes their numbers go down. 

“Make decisions quickly, even if you have limited information” is also terrible advice. It’s advice usually thrown around by people who do not have the emotional management skills to sit with uncertainty for a period of time while they make an intelligent, strategically sound decision. 

The solution to analysis paralysis is not “less thinking” and “more doing.” 

Thinking and action are designed to complement and support each other. 

People who are stuck in their heads at the expense of getting out there and “doing” usually aren’t thinking too much. 

To the contrary, what’s usually happening is, they are anxious about what might happen when they start doing— which is a problem of DISTORTED thinking, not “too much” thinking. 

(If the personal growth “expert” I have in mind was ever a therapist, he’d know the difference.)

You can’t just tell an anxious person to quit thinking and do the thing. They’re not doing the thing for a reason— their entire bodies and brains are resisting their attempts to do the thing. 

What needs to happen is the development of specific skills and tools that will help the person manage what they’re feeling, so they can go out and do the thing. 

And guess what anxiety management requires MORE of, not LESS? 

That’s right: thinking. 

We need our thinking caps. 

We need our brain turned on so we can know how to talk to ourselves. 

We need our brain turned on so we can evaluate opportunities verses costs and risks. 

We need our brain turned on so we can formulate a reasonable plan for what happens if our risk DOESN’T pay off. 

If we buy into the “think less, do more” approach, we’re not going to have ANY of those tools at our disposal. We’ll be left in a position where we turned our brain off and acted impulsively— we made a quick decision based on limited information— and now we’re paying a price. 

I don’t want you to “quit thinking and start doing.” 

I want you to develop skills and tools so that your thinking supports intelligent, considered behavior choices. 

“Thinking” and “doing” are not mutually exclusive. They’re designed to work together. 

A lot of destruction has been wrought by people who haven’t taken the time to “think” before they “do.” 

Don’t be one of those people. 

 

Want to go deeper with Dr. Glenn Doyle? $10 a month unlocks all of his content on Patreon.

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