Rethinking Your Decisions: The Impact of Second Guessing

New research finds that people who second-guess themselves make considerably worse decisions than those who follow their instincts.

Making decisions is an essential part of life. However, when it comes to decision-making, many of us are guilty of second-guessing ourselves. This can hurt our clarity and peace of mind. Too much overthinking can leave us doubtful and uncertain about our decisions, leading to more confusion and stress and maybe a few sleepless nights.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, a trio of British economists applied some brainpower to the question of gut feelings and found that people who second-guess themselves make considerably worse decisions than those who stick with instinct. The researchers focused on prediction accuracy in sports betting but said their findings would apply in any realm where people have to make educated guesses about the future.

What is Second Guessing?

Second guessing is an act of doubting oneself and questioning decisions that have been made. It can be destructive behaviour if left unchecked, as it can lead to feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and fear of making mistakes. Second guessing involves revisiting decisions that have already been made but questioning whether they were the right ones. 

It often happens when we are uncertain about something, such as a job offer or a potential purchase. It can even happen when choosing a meal from a restaurant menu. This behaviour can quickly spiral out of control if someone begins to doubt their ability to make sound judgments. Second guessing creates anxiety and contributes to feelings of doubt and indecisiveness, which can lead to stress-related health issues in the long run. 

Effects of Second Guessing

Second guessing is a common phenomenon. Second-guessing often leads to confusion, as it may cause individuals to question themselves or their choices. This can be detrimental to an individual’s mental and physical health over the long term since it causes doubt, fear of failure and increased stress levels.

People often second guess to try and gain clarity on their decisions or avoid any potential risks associated with their choice. However, second-guessing can lead to the opposite of its intended outcome: feeling overwhelmed by indecision or regretting what might have been had another decision been made instead. This creates less clarity of thinking which perpetuates. Furthermore, it can lead to feelings of guilt due to perceived wrong turns taken along life’s journey. This guilt may linger long after a final decision has been made and its consequences accepted.

There could become a point where an individual may become locked and unable to move forward on any decision and even avoid making any because it causes too much stress.

Causes of Second Guessing

What is essential to understand is that second-guessing yourself is a shared experience. While it might not be a relief to know this, I have not met anyone who has second-guessed themselves at one point in time. When our minds get wrapped up in thought, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with fear and doubt when making decisions, leading to more overthinking and hesitancy.

We are very poor predictors of our futures. We think we can, but the knowledge base that we rely on is our past and the judgements that we placed on many of our decisions in the past when we actually experienced the result of them.

Reflecting point: Think of a time when you made a decision, and the result was better than expected? What was different about that time compared to other choices you didn’t make but wish you had seen the consequences later. What was the difference in feelings you had?

The Farmer Story is so beautiful in reminding us that we just don’t know.

Feelings and Discernment

Realizing that second-guessing is a normal part of life, that you are not broken or that there is something wrong with you, is the first step in learning how to stop it from interfering with your decision-making. Recognize when your thoughts become busy with worries and anxieties (showing up as feelings), and pause for a moment. Remind yourself that this is natural but not something you have to succumb to; remind yourself that you are free from the tyranny of doubt and fear.

The ability to learn discernment is a valuable asset that can be developed and honed over time. Discernment is making wise decisions by drawing on past experiences (memory) and wisdom from your internalizing trusted source in the absence of judgment. It allows us to identify the best course of action for any given situation in real-time, leading us toward a better outcome with increased clarity, guidance and peace of mind.

You are using your whole mind to know what to do rather than relying on past experiences.

When learning discernment, it is essential to cultivate a calm and quiet state of mind. This is a crucial point. We can not access wisdom, the missing piece, while busy with anxious thinking. We may need to step back from outside pressures to trust our intuition and make more informed choices. Staying patient will help us find our way through the challenge at hand. Taking time alone can provide insight into our feelings, allowing us to access inner wisdom while maintaining a balance between uncertainty and certainties.

Many decisions don’t have to make at the moment. In my experience, trusting our ability to discern in real-time allows us to rest now, be more in the present moment, and deal with what is current.

We all face decisions that can be difficult to make, but as we become more experienced and mature, it becomes easier to trust our intuition. With real-time wisdom at the helm of decision-making, it is possible to make choices that serve us in the best way possible. Choosing a path forward with confidence can be a powerful asset when facing uncertain terrain.

When we allow ourselves to trust our instinctive reactions and use our innate wisdom from the moment, we can confidently move ahead without fear or doubt. This intuitive approach can help us navigate sticky situations with clarity and assurance that whatever decision was made was for the greater gIt’s. It’s important to remember that mistakes are just lessons learned, and nothing stays static forever, so making the wrong choice at any given modoesn’tesn’t define you or your future endeavour.

In conclusion, it is essential to remember that we are all doing our best with our level of understanding. There is no need to be hard on ourselves or others for perceived mistakes, as none are bad or good in any absolute sense. Instead, it is a matter of making wise choices and learning from our experiences.

Ultimately, life is a journey of growth and development. A continuous learning curve.

Love to hear about your experiences with second-guessing.

Is it a barrier for you, or is it helpful?

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