What is it like to live a life of indecision? It is living in fear that the decisions we make will be fraught with consequences. It is second-guessing ourselves for days, months or sometimes years about the wisdom of the decisions we have made. It is giving up our freedom and control to the experts or any breathing soul who will offer advice. It is spinning wheels, treading water and feeling stuck until we can find someone to unstick us. And it is often feeling resentful of those who do offer advice, for trying to influence and control our lives.
What makes it so hard to decide? Some indecision is related to the fear of the unknown. We want to know how our decisions will affect us both in the short and long term. Or we may feel we need to exhaust all possibilities before making what we hope will be the 'perfect' choice. We may feel so unsure of ourselves that we start to believe that everyone else in the world knows better than we do. Or we may be caught in a raging debate that rattles on in our heads between what we should do (or what others tell us to do) and what we think we want to do.
Somewhere along the way, we have lost our way. Not to overly simplify things, but I believe that if we were encouraged to make our own decisions as youngsters, then we likely have grown up quite adept at it. But if many of our decisions were questioned or challenged, then we may have lost sight of what prompted our decisions in the first place. In our efforts to accommodate, cooperate, or adapt to the expectations around us, we have lost that core knowledge of who we are and what we want.
As a career counsellor and therapist, I witness the struggle of indecision quite regularly. "What should I do with my life? Should I quit my job, go back to school, or leave a relationship?" And my job is not to advise, but to help and encourage my clients to rediscover their own voice and sense of self.
In a previous newsletter, I had written about various types of decision makers and ways to make effective career decisions (Volume 2, Issue 11).
Here are some more ideas that you may find helpful. If you have lived a lifetime of indecision, please know that it will take time to undo some of the habits that you have developed over many years.
- Start off with making a fairly small, cheap or inconsequential decision and stick with it no matter what.
- Write about your decisions. There are the usual pros/cons lists and cost/benefit analyses that can shed some light on your dilemma. In addition, journalling or stream of consciousness writing can lead you to a decision that was already there but needed some unearthing.
- Research for information, but place limits on the amount of time you are willing to invest and the territory you are willing to cover.
- As much as possible, resist the temptation to ask others for help. Trust your instincts and believe that deep down inside you know what you want.
- Seek counselling to help you understand the roots of your indecision and help you face some of your fears around making decisions.
Please call and let me know if I can help you with your indecision.
Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
“Helping Your Life Work”
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