Making Decisions

Why Is It So Hard Sometimes?

If you are someone who has a difficult time making decisions, whether it’s choosing a career, making a business decision, or deciding on something personal, you’ll probably agree how very uncomfortable this state can feel to be in, both on an emotional and mental level.

Indecision can be described as being in a state of uncertainty, feeling like you are in limbo, stuck or frozen. Because our lives are naturally meant to progress, expand and develop, it is understandable that when we are in a state where we can’t make a decision, our life feels like it is literally on hold. And when our life is on hold, we end up feeling frustrated and anxious.

Past Experiences
Analyzing our choices often paralyzes us instead of helps us to make decisions, and often, no matter how much information we have, making a decision does not become any easier. When indecision is a consistent roadblock in our lives, it may be due to specific experiences we had when we were younger.

Most parents or caregivers do the best they can with the tools they’ve been given, however no parent is perfect and there is no perfect family. Perhaps we grew up in an environment where it felt like no matter what we did it was never quite right; we seemed to always be in a no-win type of situation. Or maybe our caregivers placed a lot of value on what their interpretation of success and failure was - in other words, the ‘right’ way of doing things versus the ‘wrong’ way of doing things. Perhaps we even experienced uncomfortable or painful repercussions when we made ‘wrong’ decisions. Any of these experiences could have planted a fear in us of doing the wrong thing or of not wanting to let others down.

Try not to ignore or separate yourself from your past experiences and deem them as unimportant, immature, or silly. By integrating your past experiences with your present ones, you’ll end up not feeling the same way towards what you are afraid of. In other words, the more aware you are of where your fears have come from (other people), the more conscious you’ll become and the less power these fears will have over you.

You can also ask yourself the following questions to help you hone in on what you’re feeling when you are in a state of indecisiveness:

  • What exactly is the consequence that I’m so afraid of?
  • If I’m feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, what is the rock, and what is the hard place?
  • What bad thing do I foresee happening if I make a decision?
  • How will the potential consequence of my decision make me feel?

Right And Wrong
If you struggle with decision-making, then you may be very attached to the idea of always having to do the right thing or the best thing for everyone involved. So ask yourself, ‘what is it that I’m getting out of always doing the right thing for others?’ ‘Why is it so important to make sure everyone else is happy over me?’

If we make our practice in life the practice of increasing our self-esteem and our self-worth, then making decisions that are right for us become much easier. On the other hand, if we don’t practice these things, it becomes very difficult because we have to get our self-worth through other people. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to make a decision that is right for us personally if we have to factor in the reaction and acceptance we need to get from other people.

On a much broader scale, right and wrong is simply a matter of perspective and is born out of cultural relativism. Look at the world today. There are many customs and traditions that are considered perfectly acceptable in some countries yet prohibited in others. Our definition of what is right and wrong depends upon the society and family we were raised in.

The universal truth is that there is no right or wrong; all that exists is you as an individual knowing what is ‘technically’ right and thus feels the best for you specifically. You ultimately have free will, which is the ability to choose and know what is right for you personally and not anyone else.

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” ~ Maimonides

Question The Perceived Outcome
The meaning we give something controls how we feel and also controls the decisions we make (or not make). So, if we want to get to the bottom of why we can’t make a certain decision, we need to clearly put into words the beliefs we have regarding how we perceive the outcome of that decision.

For example, if you think that the consequence for deciding to not take over the family business might be ‘I’ll lose the respect of my family’, then you can push a bit further and ask yourself, ‘why would that be so bad?’ ‘what am I really afraid of?’ The answer to that might be ‘if I lose the respect of my family, then I’ll be all alone.’ This perceived outcome of ‘being alone’ is something you can ponder over and work with; you can even question it and change it.

If we only let ourselves dwell on negative outcomes, we’ll feel like there’s no way out and we will be pulled in the opposite direction of where we need to be going. If we are able to alter the meaning of a negative outcome or look at it from a more logical perspective, a decision may not seem so daunting to make.

How To Decide What We Really Want
One of the best ways to find out what we want, is to know what we don’t want. How does this work? Well, when we become fully aware and can put into precise words what we don’t want, then the opposite of that becomes crystal clear - what we do want. For example, in the above scenario, if we know we don’t want to take over the family business, then what might become very clear to us is that what we do want is to pursue something we love and feel passionate about.

As soon as we decipher what it is we truly want, it is imperative for us to swing our full attention to it, because by being in alignment with what we want, the opportunities, the places, the people, the things, and the decisions that we need to make will come into focus and become clear. It will become very easy to feel good about the decisions we need to make, because decisions made from a place of feeling good are always the right decisions for us personally. And actions taken from a place of feeling good are always the right actions to take.

So when we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, we can look for the third option - finding out what we actually want. Find supporting evidence as to why it is a good decision. Focus on the positives of making that particular decision and we will find ourselves flowing into the next phase of what we really want, instead of holding ourselves back or going in the opposite direction. If we’re in alignment with doing what’s right for us and feeling good about it, decision-making comes to us with no effort, and instead of feeling terrifying it feels right.

Changing Your Mind
Sometimes life seems like an endless, self-defeating pursuit of chasing after some state of perfection that exists that we have to line up with or match up to. It doesn’t exist. We can’t really make a bad choice because even if we make a choice that we decide is ultimately not good for us, it’s just giving us more clarity.

Not making a decision is, in fact, a decision not to decide. It takes us out of the driver’s seat of our life and places us in the back seat. If we decide to not make a decision, then a decision will be made for us by life itself or by the people around us because it’s impossible to put a pause button on life. And so we will be led by life whether we have active participation in it or not. The problem is, when we don’t actively participate in decisions, life just gives us even more reasons why we should.

Even if we make a certain decision today, we can always change our mind tomorrow and can go in a new direction. Remembering this can help us release some of the resistance to the idea of being locked in and trapped to something that we may not feel good about in the long run. We have the ability to choose again, and the beauty of choice is that every choice we make brings us closer and closer to the awareness of not only of who we really are, but of what we truly want.