Analysis Paralysis and the Midlife Crisis

I’ve seen Analysis Paralysis enacted as it was actually defined within the very beginning of the midlife crisis situation. However, once the left behind spouse has learned to move forward on their own, and have learned to make decisions on their own, Analysis Paralysis really doesn’t apply any longer.

Analysis Paralysis simply means overthinking a given situation to the point you are unable to make a decision for yourself, NOR would you be able to move forward or even on. The actual base of Analysis Paralysis is FEAR that cannot be overcome for the time being, and has NOTHING to do with what your midlife spouse is doing or not doing, though you may think it does.

One analyzes a situation so deeply, they become STUCK (paralyzed by analysis), unable to move or make a decision, rational or otherwise, until this kind of “hold” is broken upon oneself. This can move in step with self victimization, and the combination is emotionally deadly, rendering the one that has been bound within these aspects, helpless, and useless to themselves. This will cost them something they won’t see until hindsight kicks in and teaches them a valuable lesson known only to them.

It’s very similar to the periods of time I have spent attempting to encourage people to begin living for themselves, and their deep-seated fears prevent them from moving, detaching, and deciding for themselves. Analysis Paralysis is clearly at work here, because they say, “If I do this, I will lose something”. OR, “If I do that, I will prevent my midlife spouse from returning” or even ask the question: “Why do I have to change, when it is my midlife spouse who has done so much wrong?” Aspects such as this can cause a left behind spouse to become stuck in their tracks, afraid and unable to move.

I, too, once suffered from “Analysis Paralysis” in this way many years ago within the very beginning of his first bout of midlife crisis. However in time, I overcame this “overthinking” that prevented me from being confident enough to know how to make my own decisions, and choose my own way forward. When I started really trusting myself–and stopped second-guessing my steps, things changed for me.

I had to mentally, and emotionally decide for myself to make a conscious decision to begin living my life one day at a time, and become determined to stay with it. In time, I found that I had attained, and maintained, a suitable and reasonable grasp on my situation. I wasn’t stuck, nor did I have any trouble making various decisions for myself. It took time, but as I used the time that had been given to me for my own benefit, I learned all the basic concepts of living for myself. Later on, I moved forward into the advanced concepts of my own individual journey, exactly where I needed to be–no longer afraid I would lose him, and honestly, I discovered I would be just fine, either way.

When I returned to the Internet back in 2010, I was searching for answers that would help me understand a whole lot more–not unlike any of you that are searching in the same way. The only difference was that I was in a much later aspect of my journey, and most of you were at the beginning of this trip through the Fires of Hell, and a Mid Life Crisis that continually fed these fires daily.

When one gets to a point where they become nonfunctional, unable to make a decision one way or the other, this is where people will hurt themselves the most. I have seen people who were stuck so deep in their own situations, they could NOT move forward, backward, nor side to side.

These were the people who were stuck in their own victimization, afraid to move, preferring instead to play it “safe”, fighting wisdom-filled advice using anger that was fed by their own fears as an emotional “shield.” In time, I was forced to let them go to deal on their own, and pray they would eventually see the light for themselves.

Analysis Paralysis had already overrun these people to the point they were no longer listening. In time, they helplessly observed their situation becoming worse, as time did eventually run out on making an often needed, and necessary, decision for themselves that would have started them forward on their own path, IF they would have stepped out on the limb of Faith supported by God.

But they didn’t trust Him, nor anyone else to help them, neither would they attempt to begin to break the fear-based “hold” they had placed upon themselves. Their situations became worse, and their waffling saw a time when the power of decision was taken from them, made for them, and caused things to go down a path they never meant their situation to go.

In conclusion, Analysis Paralysis has everything to do with each individual’s inability to focus fully on themselves. They would rather focus upon aspects they cannot control, such as the midlife spouse’s problems, than to focus on what they can control–their problems. They may blame the midlife spouse for what is clearly THEIR inability to decide for themselves, but in the end, it is the left behind spouse who puts themselves in this situation because they become stuck in one place.

This is NOT the same as temporarily doing nothing simply to see what happens next. In this case, you have made a decision to simply wait, and do nothing….and doing nothing is just as good as doing something…at least one is not stuck, or standing still in fear, too afraid to even make a decision.

You could say midlife spouses also suffer analysis paralysis when they are caught up betwixt and between what they know is right, and what they want they know is wrong. When they become stuck in various places, that is also because of the clear inability to make any decisions, good or bad. Their own fear causes them to “overthink” their own situations, and though they may blame the left behind spouse for their inability to decide for themselves, each individual bears accountability for their own actions, decisions and clear inability to choose a path that would benefit them.

Now with all that said what follows is the actual definition according to Wikipedia of Analysis Paralysis; and this is provided as a FYI:

The term “analysis paralysis” or “paralysis of analysis” refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, or citing sources, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

The phrase describes a situation where the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits that could be gained by enacting some decision, or an informal or non-deterministic situation where the sheer quantity of analysis overwhelms the decision-making process itself, thus preventing a decision. The phrase applies to any situation where analysis may be applied to help make a decision and may be a dysfunctional element of organizational behavior. This is often phrased as paralysis by analysis, in contrast to extinct by instinct (making a fatal decision based on hasty judgment or a gut-reaction).

One example is from one of Aesop’s Fables:

The basic idea has been expressed though narrative a number of times. In one “Aesop’s fable” that is recorded even before Aesop’s time, The Fox and the Cat, the fox boasts of “hundreds of ways of escaping” while the cat has “only one”. When they hear the hounds approaching, the cat scampers up a tree while “the fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds.” The fable ends with the moral, “Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.” A related concept is expressed by the Centipede’s dilemma.

In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the main character, Prince Hamlet, is often said to have a mortal flaw of thinking too much, such that his youth and vital energy are, in Shakespeare’s words, “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis)

Sadly, people will often discount the experienced advice given because it doesn’t fit with the preexisting thought patterns they have developed over the years. Therefore, they will reject advice that often seems counter-intuitive, and remain in the state of indecision(stuck in Analysis Paralysis), until the decision is actually taken from them, and made for them. This is actually what happened in the Aesop’s Fable about the fox and the cat. The cat made a decision based on surviving the circumstances at hand, whereas the fox was caught unprepared in various ways, escape was cut off, and he was unable to survive the onslaught of the hounds. I daresay, the fox, because of his indecision was “frozen” in his indecisiveness, and paid with his life.

I can remember various times during my husband’s first bout of crisis, when the Lord would warn me to make a decision that would assist me in moving forward, and He further warned that if I didn’t make one in a reasonable period of time, it would be taken from me, and made for me by my husband. As a result, events would spin out of control, because a midlife spouse’s decision making isn’t sound. Considering this unsound decision-making, is all about the midlife spouse, in my own case, I would have been caught up in a whirlwind of confusion that I never meant to happen, but did, because I had allowed myself to become “frozen” in my own indecisiveness.

This looks like a decent illustration of analysis paralysis that could have happened to me, but didn’t because I listened to my Intuition, and like the cat, scampered up the tree and sat there doing nothing until the danger was past….a way of escape was made available, even if temporary.

In other words, I removed myself from the equation, and placed myself out of reach using detachment, but didn’t allow myself to become trapped in the tree I had climbed up into temporarily. This is not to say I never made any mistakes during that time, because I did.

However, because of those former mistakes, I had to learn NOT to “overthink” anything within a given situation I was facing. This is not an attribute that comes naturally to the perfectionists, it is learned, and put to use during the midlife crisis. Being analytical has served me well in the area of counseling, intuitiveness, and being able to see things in detail in other people’s situations, but this aspect caused me nothing but problems in various areas of my own life, including my husband’s former midlife crisis.

So, I use this ability somewhat sparingly, when it comes to myself, and in a broader spectrum when it comes to guiding, counseling, and helping others.

One last thing, don’t allow yourselves to become deeply drawn into other people’s situations, as this can also bring you to the point of Analysis Paralysis when it comes to making a decision on what and how to advise. Conquer your fears, and if you don’t have anything to say,(or think you don’t), simply be encouraging to someone who is in trouble.

It is the smallest aspects that often make the most difference, so we don’t feel like we are alone.

Never take someone’s word as truth, and always question what you read, it’s important, even if it’s for your own future usage of various terms.

I’ve never used this particular term in my writings. I felt like it would be insulting to people. In my opinion, this would be telling them they didn’t know how to regulate their own situations, when actually the opposite is true–they are MORE than capable, and it’s at their discretion. Do not allow “Analysis Paralysis” interfere with your God-given ability to make sound decisions that will benefit you during your spouse’s midlife crisis. Always look to, and trust Him to make a way, even when there does not seem to be one. 🙂

BIG HUGS!!

Love,
HB

Since 2002, Hearts Blessing has been a pioneer in the area of knowledge and information written about the Mid Life Crisis. The owner and author of https://thestagesandlessonsofmidlife.org she writes articles that help people learn more about this confusing time of life. The main goal of this site is to help people know and understand that no matter what happens, every situation works out to the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose. :)
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