You want to feel confident about the decisions you make, but self-doubt and fear of what others think often gets in your way.
Your stomach knots up and you ask multiple people for reassurance before making a decision. You may have hoped other’s advice would bring some comfort but ultimately differing opinions have left you feeling confused and even a little angry. It’s impossible to make a decision that everyone agrees with, and you are worried about getting it right. You feel paralyzed and wish you could trust your judgement.
There are times in life where decision making is hard, and it’s compounded when self-doubt, judgement, and anxiety are involved. Something as simple as deciding what movie to watch can end up feeling overwhelming and exhausting. Throughout the day we are faced with choices. When should I get up? What should I wear? What should I eat for breakfast? When should I leave for work? These are just simple day to day decisions but we also have big life decisions that can feel crippling. Bigger risks can create bigger worries. We are going to cover three common obstacles to decision making and some tips for overcoming them.
Obstacles of Indecision
Self-doubt can mess with our ability to make sound decisions. If we don’t trust our judgement, we’ll likely go looking for it in other places. And while there is nothing wrong with talking-out a big decision with someone you trust, you ultimately need to make the decision for yourself. You’re the expert on your life. You know your dreams, passions, aspirations, and values. By placing trust in yourself, you are able to make the decision that is right for you, not someone else. This also helps to avoid confusion and anger. Have you ever reached out to someone in hopes that they’ll validate your choice but instead they disagree? It’s easy to feel resentful of that person and question if you know what’s right.
People who suffer from anxiety, often have difficulty making decisions. They may think of every possible outcome and consequence of a choice, rational or not. For example, when deciding on a major in college someone struggling with anxiety might think “I love biology but I’m worried it will be hard. What if I fail my classes and I’m not able to graduate? And later in life, I won’t be able to provide for myself. My family will think I’m a failure, and nobody will want to be with me.” Suddenly deciding a major holds the weight of the world. But there is another way to view this - What if the person just switched majors if it wasn’t working out? Or what if it was hard but they loved it and succeeded? Anxiety often focuses on negative outcomes and ignores the other more comforting possibilities. Worry is the antithesis of confident decision making.
People-pleasing is an alluring trap because you can’t please others and please yourself at the same time. Other people’s opinions can have a large impact on the choices we make. From a young age, many of us are praised for listening to our parents, teachers, older siblings, and really any authority figure. We learn that when we do what they want, we get some sort of positive reward. So it can be a little scary when we get older and have to make decisions that are right for us, even if others do not agree. There will be times when people we love or respect disagree with our life choices, and that can be painful. However, if we make choices out of fear of judgement or to please others, we may begin to resent the people who influenced our choices. A wise woman (okay, it’s my mom) once told me, life is a long time to do something you don’t love.
Stepping out of indecision
If you’re struggling with the anxiety of decision making, know that things can change! It is possible for you to feel confident about the decisions you make, even without reassurance from others. Here are some things to get you started:
Practice making decisions without seeking advice from others. Start with the small things that have minimal consequences. This gives you the opportunity to see how the choice plays out. You’ll likely find the choices you make turn out just fine without other’s input, thus increasing your confidence and trust in your judgement. Plus, exposing ourselves to things that we feel anxiety about actually help reduce our anxiety.
Accept that at times, the voice inside your head isn’t spot on. If it’s telling you something negative about your decisions (others will judge you, it might be the wrong decision, etc), acknowledge the thought and allow it to pass. Not everything we think is true, even if we feel it.
Gauge how much the decision really matters. Ask yourself what the best and worst-case scenarios are of the choice you are making. Chances are the reality lies somewhere in the middle. And if the worst happens, could you cope with that? What if the best-case scenario happens?
Lastly, treat yourself with compassion. If you make a choice that doesn’t turn out perfectly, that’s okay. Life is messy and we learn from our mistakes. Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, something different but equally great enters our life.
If these suggestions seem overwhelming, or you’ve tried them but have found no respite from the pain of making decisions, know therapy can help you navigate these concerns.
THERAPY CAN HELP, GIVE US A CALL 801-699-6161.