[Applied Psychology] Stop Overanalyzing Situations

Over analysis leads to analysis paralysis.” The main problem with overanalyzing is that you don’t realize when you’re already sinking into analysis paralysis. In moderation, analysis is a fundamental tool in self-development, helping you prevent repeating similar mistakes. It’s just that we’re too critical of ourselves, often to the point of being critical before we even receive that missing piece of information to complete the analysis feedback loop. One quote helps me mute that noise:

Just the facts,” or: “I just want to get the facts, ma’am.”

Let’s say someone, Mr. A, is telling someone else, Mr. B, about some overwhelming stress in his life. Other than therapeutically complaining, he’ll probably prematurely assume conclusions about the situation. He might imagine indifference or anger. These emotions might cloud his judgement and perception. It’s entirely possible that the individual could have a completely unpredictable reaction as well. What’s the point of trying to guess how someone will react? You don’t have that information yet!

Don’t obsess over missing information. Wait. Or hunt it down.

Now let’s say Mr. A interacts with multiple people the same way. Mr. C reacts neutrally, Mr. D reacts aggressively, and Mr. E reacts with a completely different emotion. There weren’t any commonalities to help curb any unwarranted behavior. Now if all three acted in the same way, and that behavior were not the response Mr. A wanted, then he could use that trending information to adjust and adapt. That’s an appropriate use of analysis.

How about over analyzing constructive feedback?

During a conversation about pixel art, I was asked for some sample work I’ve done, so I drew the initial draft [seen below]. I started completely from scratch with Mr. A’s face as the baseline for his head, using pixel logic copied that template for his body, and adjusted the emotions for each character. Everything took less than one hour, which was faster than finding any good samples in deep storage. First response was neutral.

“[Mr. A]’s arm is a little wonky.”

Nothing personal. No need to throw emotion into the mix, so while adjusting the sprites, I realized this could fall within the realm of over analyzing. That’s why the background is a messy box: this represents people talking and expressing emotions, rather than pretending to be a videogame screenshot. If these sprites evolved into a videogame, and I were the artist, I’d probably leave them alone. Though they’re not perfect, I’m enamoured with the results.

I’d say good enough is innocently perfect.

That’s the trick: with over analysis and reaching for perfection, we’re grasping at anything to help us achieve that mythical 100% “best” status. That state where we’ve figured out how to get the perfect reaction and where we produced the perfect work. Unfortunately, that’s chasing an invisible goal. Don’t worry how you acted. Don’t worry if it’s rough around the edges. My published writing is, after all, just the last draft before I stopped editing.

No use holding onto regretful past events.

Original draft

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.