Everyone worries about making the right decision. For some South Asians, this worry becomes more extreme and can negatively impact their ability to make one. They tend to vacillate between choices seemingly endlessly and experience significant anxiety about sticking to a choice. Indecisiveness can come from a variety of causes. Most commonly, it is associated with perfectionistic tendencies. People who live with depression, low self-esteem or anxiety disorders also exhibit difficulty in making a choice.
Having trouble making decisions can get in the way of academic and professional success and can also put a strain on personal relationships Here are some tips on how to improve your decision making skills:
1. Identify triggers. The anxiety that comes with being presented with a choice paralyzes you because it triggers something in you. Common triggers include fear of failure, fear of repeating mistakes in the past, worrying about what it means about you if you make a mistake or worrying about consequences like disappointing someone. Find out what thoughts that run to your mind paralyze you and prevent you from making a decision and sticking to it.
2. Identify false beliefs. In addition to triggers, most people who have difficulty making choices unconsciously or consciously believe that they should know exactly what they want and that decisions can’t be made until that is 100% clear. Others may believe that without immediate proof that the decision was right they cannot make the decision. Yet others falsely believe that here is only one right answer.
3. Challenge all-or-nothing thinking. Challenge these inflexible beliefs by finding examples that disprove these thoughts. Find examples of when those thoughts cannot hold true, such as a situation that is not black and white but are more nuanced. Remind yourself of choices where there is more than one answer. Ask yourself why these thoughts are so important to hold on to.
4. Increase mindfulness. We often get lost in a world of “shoulds” that pull us in numerous conflicting directions. The downside is that most of the time none of those “shoulds” are actually other people’s voices in your head telling you to behave a certain way. It adds extra pressure to make a decision, increasing anxiety and procrastination. Take some time to be easier on yourself. Learn to accept that mistakes are a part of life and that they don’t define you no matter how big they are. By doing this, you will lessen how often you feel regret for making a decision. Also, when you clear your mind of the clutter of “shoulds” you will increase your self-confidence and it will be easier to make a decision and stick to it.
Being able to make decisions is strongly correlated with higher self-esteem, less depressive episodes and significantly reduced anxiety and stress. It also will help people in your personal and professional life trust you more and you may see more success in those areas of your life as well.
How do you work through indecisiveness?