The Decision Stack: How to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Oct 13, 2023

4 min read


The Decision Stack: How to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

In both the realms of decision-making and relationships, we often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of overthinking. We question our choices, doubt our abilities, and constantly analyze every aspect of our lives. This overthinking can hinder our progress and prevent us from fully enjoying the present moment. However, by understanding the commonalities between decision-making and relationships, we can develop strategies to overcome this tendency.

The key lies in the concept of principles. Just as principles guide our decision-making process, they also shape the foundation of a healthy relationship. When our principles align with our vision and strategy, we can confidently answer the questions of how and why we are building a particular aspect of our lives. Good principles make our values actionable, allowing us to navigate the complexities of decision-making and relationships.

Creating principles is a shared responsibility, requiring input from both the bottom up and the top down. From the bottom up, we can use retrospectives to reflect on the recurring debates and trade-offs we encounter. By identifying the challenges we face and the decisions we've made, we can distill these experiences into guiding principles. These principles serve as a reminder of what we have said no to and help us make informed choices moving forward.

From the top down, we reinforce our strategy by articulating acceptable trade-offs as principles. We must determine what actions will lead to the success of our strategy and what trade-offs we are willing to make to achieve that success. By clearly defining what we will and will not do, we can align our decisions with our overarching goals.

Now, let's apply these principles to our relationships and explore how overthinking can hinder our connection with our partners. When we find ourselves trapped in a cycle of self-pity, we focus on our own victimhood and perceive our partner as the source of our misery. We distort our perceptions and build stories about our partner, closing ourselves off from true connection and the adventure of love.

This self-pity often leads to blame, where we assign fault to ourselves or our partner. We believe that our partner should pay for their perceived wrongdoings and apologize for the pain they've caused us. This mindset prevents us from engaging in open and honest communication, as we become fixated on the idea that we are right and our partner is wrong.

Control becomes another rumination cycle, where we believe that our views and actions should hold sway in the relationship. We become moralistic, imposing externally defined truths on our partner and limiting the possibilities and options available to us. This rigid thinking stifles growth and prevents us from embracing the complexities and nuances of our relationship.

Doubt creeps in as we question our own choices and compare ourselves to others. We wonder if there is someone better suited for us or if we can trust our own intuition. This constant doubt erodes our confidence and prevents us from fully committing to our relationship.

Worry becomes the final rumination cycle, where we obsess over potential negative outcomes and future uncertainties. We become consumed with thoughts of what could go wrong and lose sight of the present moment. This worry robs us of the joy and connection we could be experiencing with our partner.

To counter these destructive rumination cycles, we must learn to pivot from overthinking to being present with ourselves and our partner. Instead of trying to eliminate unsettling experiences, we should embrace them and explore the underlying emotions and thoughts. By being fully present in the moment, we can cultivate awareness, empathy, and curiosity, allowing for a deeper and more fulfilling connection with our partner.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Practice mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness exercises to cultivate awareness of your thoughts and emotions. By observing your rumination cycles without judgment, you can begin to break free from the grip of overthinking.
  • 2. Communicate openly and honestly: Foster an environment of open communication with your partner. Share your concerns, fears, and insecurities, allowing for a deeper understanding and connection.
  • 3. Embrace vulnerability: Recognize that vulnerability is essential in any relationship. Allow yourself to be seen and heard, and encourage your partner to do the same. Embracing vulnerability creates a foundation of trust and intimacy.

In conclusion, the principles we apply to decision-making can also be applied to our relationships. By aligning our values and vision, we can navigate the complexities of both realms with clarity and purpose. Overthinking can hinder our connection with our partners, but by embracing mindfulness, open communication, and vulnerability, we can break free from the cycle and cultivate a more fulfilling relationship.

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