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Why do I struggle to make decisions? - when indecisiveness holds you back

Woman struggling to make decision

How many times have you stressed out about making a decision?

I’m not necessarily talking about big decisions, like whether you should stay in your job or move house... even small decisions like what to order at a restaurant or what to wear for an event.

Do you obsessively overthink and replay scenarios again and again in your mind, becoming no more clearer as time passes?

In fact, you may think about it so much that it leaves you with a sense of paralysis, where you become so overwhelmed that you're not actually able to make a decision.

If this is you, then you are not alone.

Research suggests that 20% of the adult population is indecisive, with women being more prone to having struggles with decision-making compared to men.

Woman being in decisive

So why is it so hard to make decisions?

Difficulty in decision-making can be influenced by various factors, such as fear of making the wrong choice, lack of information or fear of the unknown.

Indecisiveness is also a form of procrastination and it occurs when an individual has a decision to make but ends up feeling overwhelmed by the number of options or the possible outcome to each of the options.

Perfectionism can creep into it as well, as the fear of getting things wrong may cause you to stress and worry about what others think about you. If the decision becomes too overwhelming then it can result in you being unable to make a decision efficiently – or ultimately not making the decision at all.

It's worth noting that being indecisive can also be a symptom of mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although it's important to note that just because you have a tendency to be indecisive, it does not mean that you have one of the conditions above. If you have concerns then I would highly advise you to speak with a medical practitioner.

It's also not limited to just those with mental health conditions. Despite the reputation that high-achievers always put in a super effort and get the job done, their anxiety can cause them to overthink and overanalyse EVERYTHING. Our brain activates survival mode and in not making a decision, it unconsciously seeks to avoid responsibility or blame.

The science behind it all

Our best reasoning and decision-making comes from the prefrontal cortex part of our brain. However when we are feeling anxious, part of the brain known as the limbic system (responsible for our emotional responses, memory and motivation) gets fired up.

Our brain switches on the fight, flight or freeze mode. This part of the brain is irrational, as it's only concerned with your safety and survival. When we're in this state, our choices tend to be more emotionally driven, which causes us to play through every what-if scenario and eventuality. This can be exhausting, invoke further anxiety and even lead to burnout.

If we don’t make an effort to tackle indecisiveness, we can easily become trapped in a vicious cycle of indecision, anxiety and frustration.

Indecision loop - overthinking, frustration, anxiety, indecisive

How can I overcome indecisiveness?

The good news is you train your brain to help make decision making easier and like any skill, you will get better at it with practice. An effective way to do this is to ‘quieten down’ that noisy limbic brain before making decisions.

Ways to do this include:

  • Exercising

  • Shaking it off (literally like an animal would shake themselves)

  • Have a cold glass of water

  • Mindfulness activities (breathing exercises, meditation and guided visualisations)

  • Have a nap or sleep

Remember that being indecisive isn’t always a negative thing. Sometimes hesitation allows you time to reflect on what is going on, encourages you to do more research so you can make an informed decision and weigh up your options.

The key is to ensure that you're not trapped in the inabilty to make decisions so that it does not impact your performance, confidence and ability to get things done.

If you would like further support with this then Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help. It is an effective form of support that helps you to get back into that rational, intelligent part of your brain so you can manage your stress and anxiety levels and feel good about making decisions, big or small! As it is based on neuroscience, it also helps you to understand your brain, how it works and how you can hack it to feel more confident in making decisions.

If you would like to know more then click the button below to book a free informal chat with me.


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