I’m an indecisive person. I think. Or at least, I used to be indecisive. The simplest questions like ‘what do you want for dinner’ or ‘where should we hang this piece of art’ were enough to throw me into a tailspin trying to figure out the ‘right’ answer.
I used to think I was indecisive. But now, I know my inability to make a decision has nothing to do actually do with the decision itself. I’ve come to realize that I’m afraid to share my actual preferences with people for fear of letting them down. But I almost always know what I want. I’ve just been too afraid to ask for it. Until now.
After six (very long) months of being on the waitlist, I finally had the opportunity to read Sarah Wilson’s First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety (affiliate link). The entire book is a masterpiece and if you want to relate or understand better your own anxiety or someone else’s, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
One piece in particular stuck with me and is what inspired this post.
Sarah explains that, whilst in what she calls an anxiety spiral, she isn’t capable of making decisions for herself as they to relate to other people. The ultimate act of love she has experienced during these spirals is when a friend rang her up and asked if she’d be interested in dinner and a movie. Her friend would plan everything. Sarah just had to show up and enjoy.
I smiled a knowing smile when I read this section of the book. I’ve been the person who can’t make plans to save her life or cancels at the last minute because of impending decision fatigue (or paralysis, which is what it often feels like). So, I can understand how having a friend take care of all the plans can be the ultimate act of love and friendship.
Becoming a decision champion
I haven’t stopped thinking about this since I read it. And I’ve started implementing a version of it in my own life, with interesting results.
My partner also suffers from anxiety. Put the two of us together and it’s a recipe for no decisions to be easily made, ever. It’s just not something we excel at. At least we’re aware of our inability to. make decisions!
So, taking a page (almost literally) out of Sarah’s book, I’ve started making decisions for myself and my partner, knowing that having firm answers is what we need in our life right now.
These haven’t been major decisions (I’m not about to risk my relationship over a shaky investment opportunity). No, these have been relatively benign decisions like deciding to make hamburger soup for dinner without asking because I was craving it. Or, setting up the backyard on my own accord because I wanted to be ready to enjoy the spring sunshine (lol, as I write this, we got four more inches of snow).
These seem like really small, not even worth writing about decisions. But, in my head, they are monumental and signify my growing ability to just get stuff done.
Also, let’s be honest. It’s easier to make a decision and stick to it than to go back and forth, waffling every chance you get. Waffling (aka being indecisive) zaps so much more mental energy than just making a decision.
Think about a time when you went back and forth on something. It could be anything (paint colour for a room, where to go for dinner, buying a new shirt). Think about how much agonizing you did over your choices. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just make a choice?
A legitimate part of why indecision plagues me is because I’m afraid of the implications of the decision I’m trying to make. What if my friend doesn’t like where I picked for dinner? What if I pick the wrong show to watch and my partner gets bored?
Just writing that is embarrassing. But, here’s the deal. The majority of our decisions on a daily basis don’t have catastrophic implications on ourselves or those around us. It’s not the end of the world if you go out for Thai food and you don’t like it. Your life won’t end if you wear the ‘wrong’ shirt to an important meeting. It just won’t. (It goes without saying though, that doesn’t mean your brain can tell the difference between actually important and not-so-important decisions).
So, how do you make the leap from an indecisive Isla to a decision-making Deirdre?
All Aboard the Decision Train
Figure out if the decision you’re trying to make has actual real-life implications.
For example, cutting off all of your hair = no. Hair grows back.
But, selling your house on a whim and moving to the woods? Yes. (Also, secretly my dream).
If it’s a yes, feel free to agonize away. Pro and con it up. Whatever you need to do to feel confident in your final decision. Eventually, though, you’ll need to do the below.
If it’s a no, tune in to yourself and make a decision. 80% of the time, you probably know what the right choice is for you. You just might be afraid to admit or accept it.
I’m not saying you should be careless in your decisions. I’m saying you should give yourself the chance to listen to what you want.
The Feel Good Factor
It feels good to make decisions. That’s the part that hooked me. Even making small, solid decisions on a daily basis makes me feel productive. It’s like I’ve actually accomplished something (even if that something is just making my lunch the night before).
What’s the next decision I have to make? Easy – what to have for dinner. Obviously.
Are you a good decision-maker? Or are you more of an indecisive type? Let me know in the comments!
**Disclaimer**: This post contains affiliate links. Read more about what that means here.
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions