Decision Anxiety

Aug 18, 2015 | Anxiety, Blog

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Decision Anxiety

I was chatting to my best friend recently about planning her 30th birthday party. Although she’s ordinarily one of the calmest people I know, there’s one thing that can turn her into a ball of worry… even to the point of having sleepless nights!

And that thing is indecision. Wanting things to be perfect, to include all the right people and for everyone to have a great time all came into play and had been making it really hard for her to move forward, PLUS it was causing her a lot of stress.

So, inspired by that, I’ve come up with 4 issues that can contribute to indecision and some ideas on how we can start to overcome them (and I’d love to hear any more that you have, in the comments).

  1. Not trusting ourselves

It’s often a lack of trust in ourselves, our thought processes or our ability to make good decisions, that can lead to this anxiety about making them. We don’t trust that we’ll make the right choice.

Often in life, we underestimate our own abilities and experience and over estimate those of other people. The reality is that you have a lot of valuable knowledge, understanding and experience and you are just as well equipped to make decisions as anyone else. Nobody knows you and your life better than you do, so you’re the most well prepared person to make any decisions about you and your life!

Life coach Michael Neil says that the decision itself is far less important than how we deal with whatever arises from that decision. You can cope with whatever happens.

Try saying a daily affirmation to yourself ‘I trust myself to make decisions’ or ‘I am capable and wise’.

uncertainty sign cloud

      2. Fear of uncertainty

Anxiousness often comes hand in hand with a need for certainty. And when we’re making a decision, there is no guarantee or certainty that things will turn out the way we want. Sometimes it can be easier not to make a decision at all because at least that way, things will stay the same and that feels safer.

Sometimes just recognising what’s going on with us can go a long way to helping us to overcome it. What if you could look at the decision and instead of seeing it as scary and uncertain, seeing it as a great adventure, or an exciting experiment?

Never underestimate your ability to adapt and change

      3. Perfectionism

Most people want things to be good, but if you’re actually a perfectionist, there’s often this sense that nothing is ever quite ‘good enough’.

The truth is, perfection is in the eye of the beholder.

If we’ve got an internal attitude of ‘not good enough’ then perfection will always be just out of reach. If we can be more accepting of ‘good enough’ and know that there are no ‘perfect’ decisions or outcomes, we’ll be able to make decisions more easily.

And the interesting thing that happens when we become more accepting, is that things start to feel more perfect, just as they are.

anxiety in women

     4. Wanting to keep everyone happy

This is a classic. We may have one idea about doing something, but someone that we love has an opposite idea.

As a considerate person, you’ll likely want to avoid upsetting people if you can. Perhaps though, you take this a bit too far and try to keep everyone happy all of the time.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible. If you’re trying to do this all the time it’s likely that you’re not able to take care of yourself as well. You could end up burning out and going nowhere.

This is another case of learning to accept ‘good enough’; doing your best for others but ultimately doing what you want and what you know to be best for you. When you take care of yourself, it ends up benefiting others anyway, because you’ll be more fulfilled and energised. Being ‘selfish’ therefore, isn’t really selfish.

Can you relate to any of these?

Another thing that I’ve noticed about making decisions is that the more we over-think them, the more muddled and confused we become. Making decisions from a place of stress and fear is never a good thing.

Something interesting happens with decision-making when we relax about it. When we calm our minds and let go of the outcome we tap into our inner wisdom, our intuition and our deeper understanding. There is a part of us that will know the right course of action, if only we can calm our minds down enough to listen. Go for a walk in nature, get an good nights sleep or just put the decision aside for a few days, and see what comes up for you.

If that’s not available right now, try this technique from Michael Neil.

Flip a coin (try it right now if you have something you’re deliberating over!)

Tell yourself that no matter what the outcome of the coin flip, that you’re going to use it make your decision.

Flipped your coin?

So, how do you feel about the result?

Whether you’re pleased or disappointed could be important signals about what the best decision for you really is. If you’re still ambivalent, it could be a sign that it doesn’t really matter what decision you make!

Plus, you can often change your mind later if you want, if things don’t work out.

But they nearly always do. And if they don’t, you’ve learned something really valuable.

Did you like this article? I’d love to hear from you in the comments about one specific thing that you’ve struggled to decide on and what happened in the end, and please share this with anyone who may need it.


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  1. Bonnie Stephenson

    I can be so indecisive. I’m scared of getting things wrong and I’ll usually ask other people what to do all the time

  2. Ian B

    Thank you so much for this simple yet helpful advice. Sometimes pulling up a mirror to oneself is what is most effective. Your simple advice is also much more profound than first meets the eye, and deserves introspection as well as creative experimentation.


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