Prefer to avoid decisions where possible? Do even small decisions leave you panicking and sure you'll get it wrong?
Struggling with decision making is connected to several mental health issues.
Yes, even as adults we can get by letting others make all our decisions for us.
But this means we are not exerting any personal power of our own. Which means we are avoiding not just responsibility, but personal growth and a chance to learn just who we are and what we are capable of.
If we have low self-esteem it can definitely affect our belief we can do anything right, and cause decision making paralysis.
And it can actually be true that we are poor at decision making. The bigger truth here, though, is not that we just lack the skill. It's that we are unconsciously choosing to be bad at it.
How does that make any sense?
Our past informs the way we think about ourselves and the world. Things like neglect, poor parenting, and childhood trauma can leave us with unconscious negative beliefs, called 'core beliefs' or 'limiting beliefs'.
These beliefs can look like, ‘I don’t deserve good things’, and ‘the world is a dangerous place’.
We don’t realise we are doing it, but we then make choices to ‘prove’ our negative beliefs correct. For example, we pick a bad partner and then can turn around and say to ourselves, “I knew it, I simply don’t deserve love and happiness".
It’s not just low self-esteem and negative beliefs that can leave us floundering in the face of decisions.
Here are other things that could be leaving you indecisive:
Depression leads to what many sufferers call ‘brain fog’. Thinking straight is hard, and your thoughts are so caught up in doom and gloom, making a decision seems pointless and unlikely to change anything. So you don’t. You put people, and life, off.
Anxiety is a fear-based condition where our thoughts become frenzied and increasingly illogic. Soon enough we are so terrified about what ‘could’ happen if we make the wrong decision? We are frozen and unable to take action.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that anxiety disengages the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area that is crucial for good decision making.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
With adult ADHD, our mind can explode in many directions at once. Decisions can be overwhelming because we can actually see more alternatives than others can, and can whir through all possible outcomes. We feel overwhelmed and then just let ourselves get distracted.
If you are codependent, you get your sense of worth from others, and what others think of you. If you are not sure what someone else would like you to do, you can feel unable to make a decision for fear of being disapproved of.
Recognise your limiting beliefs. Often it becomes about doing some ‘deep diving’ into finding the hidden beliefs that are pushing you into bad decisions.
Learn your personal values. Our values are the things we really care about no matter what. And if we get crystal clear on what our values are outside of the values of those around us, we can then use our values to make decisions that push us forward to where we want to go.
Develop self-compassion. This is now thought to be an easier way to build your self esteem. It means treating yourself like a friend, and working to be easier and more supportive of yourself.
Learn balanced thinking. Balanced thinking is a tool of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It means that you recognise you are having extreme thoughts and train your brain to find a more balanced, realistic way of seeing.
Seek support to know yourself and be yourself. Therapy helps you recognise who you really are and what matters to you, and assists you to gain the courage to step towards your dreams, one decision at a time.
Time to face your fear of decision making? Book a therapist now and start finally moving forward.