“What do you want to eat for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” How many of you have had this exchange before? Indecision is a part of life. It’s crazy to think that we would know what to do 100% of the time, but what is behind our indecision? Have you ever gone through periods when making even the smallest decisions feels monumentally difficult? What does indecision tell us? And how can we learn to make decisions when we need to?
“Indecision, doubt and fear. The members of this unholy trio are closely related; where one is found, the other two are close at hand.” – Napoleon Hill
Growing up as a perfectionist I questioned EVERYTHING. Do I want a salad or a sandwich for lunch? Well to answer that I need to know what am I going to have for dinner? I don’t want to be too full or too hungry or God forbid – eat that same thing twice in one day. And if I follow that rabbit hole, then what am I eating tomorrow? With this line of thinking anxiety begins to rise and we can start clinging onto anything to gain some sense of control.
A simple reframe is to look at indecision as a barometer that represents how in touch you are with your needs and wants. The more indecision coming up the less connected you are. If you notice high levels on indecision in your life, it is time to get curious about why that is happening. Some helpful things to take notice of are:
When these things are happening, it is often an indicator that something else is going on under the surface. For example, if I notice that I am experiencing significant anxiety (i.e. anxiety greater than the task at hand) over what to order off a dinner menu, I know it’s something is off for me. So, what might be underneath the indecision?
Indecision is often a sign that perfectionism is lurking. When I notice I am experiencing a lot of indecision, I am often trying desperately to make the perfect or “right” choice. Fear is a big factor here. Perfectionists fear failure; the two cannot co-exist. Perfectionism lies and tells us that mistakes are not okay. In the decision-making process the stakes feel extremely high for a perfectionist. Failure is literally death to the perfectionist dream. It is no wonder that decision-making can be stressful for someone who struggles with perfectionism.
Indecision in a perfectionist can often result in analysis paralysis. Analysis Paralysis is that place we get too when we have over analyzed a decision that we become frozen. Again, this is rooted out of a fear of failure, a fear of making the wrong decision.
Indecision can also become a bad habit when we use it to disengage from our lives. Indecision can drag us into victimhood. It’s too hard to make a decision. I don’t want to. Don’t make me decide. This victim orientation keeps us from stepping into our own power. Giving up our power can be an attempt to revert to a childlike place. We’ve all had that bad day where we long to be a kid again. A kid does not have to decide about what to cook for dinner or what utility company to choose. Disengaging from making decisions ultimately harms us as it keeps us from being present in our lives and accountable for the choices we make.
Some of life’s questions may not have answers or we may find ourselves in a situation where the answers are not yet available. These situations make it difficult to make a decision. At times there may be no answer. Indecision can be a marker that our tolerance for the unknown is lacking. What’s wrong with not knowing? Wallowing in a pit of indecision can be an attempt to opt-out of embracing vulnerability.
Once we are able to see what is underneath our indecision, we can start taking actions to address the underlying issue. We reality check perfectionism and trust our intuition. We step into our authentic self and find our voice. We embrace vulnerability. We decide.
“Make a decision and then make the decision right. Line up your Energy with it. In most cases it doesn’t really matter what you decide. Just decide. There are endless options that would serve you enormously well, and all or any one of them is better than no decision.” – Abraham-Hicks
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