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Decisions, Decisions and Indecision

Updated on February 29, 2012

Making major life decisions can be difficult for everyone. Deciding which career path to follow or making a decision to buy a home are major decisions. We carefully consider the costs and benefits of our decision, examine alternatives, and eventually select the choice that seems to fit our needs best at that point in time. We make a commitment to our decision and organize our behavior in a way that helps us carry out our decision.

For some, making minor, everyday decisions can be extremely stressful, even paralyzing. Which route should I take to the grocery store? Should I go to the bank before or after the grocery? Which brand of ketchup should I buy? Should I go with the store brand or stay with a known brand? Should I start in produce or bakery? Do I need to go down the beverage aisle at all? Which is better with a roast, potatoes or sweet potatoes? Most of us make these and similar decisions throughout the day with little awareness that we are making decisions. For others, the above decisions can be immobilizing and exhausting.

Decision Making

What to do when you can't decide
What to do when you can't decide

We all have times when it really is better to put off making a decision. If we didn’t get a good night’s sleep, if we are not feeling well, or if we are too emotionally involved in the outcome are all good reasons to delay decision making if possible. If we don’t have all the facts yet, we might want to wait until we have more facts. We might want to discuss our decision with a significant other or someone else that will be effected by the decision, before we make the decision. If we feel pressured to make a decision, it may be a good idea to wait awhile before deciding.

If I don’t like myself or if I lack confidence in myself and my abilities, I may believe that I am not capable of making decisions or that someone else is more capable of making my decisions. There are some benefits and risks involved in allowing others to make decisions for me. Some risks are that I might become overly dependent on others to make decisions for me. I might begin to make decisions to please them rather than myself.

While asking others for their opinion can be helpful sometimes, it can also be confusing and might even have some “payoffs” for me that aren’t really in my long term best interest. I might come to resent others when their advice doesn’t work for me, and blame them for my circumstances or for the consequences of the choice.

I could deceive myself into thinking that I can avoid responsibility for the consequences of my choices, if I believe it wasn’t my choice. If I give all responsibility for child discipline over to my husband, for example, I can deceive myself into believing I wasn’t responsible for my child’s abuse. In fact, I am responsible for choosing not to choose and failing to act. I am co-abusing by allowing the abuse to go on without taking action to stop it.

I might be afraid of making mistakes, afraid of not being perfect, or afraid of failing. I might believe that there is only one right choice and I must make the right choice. “If only” I had the wisdom to know the difference. What if I make the wrong choice? What if someone disagrees or disapproves?

There really is no such thing as a perfect decision that will magically resolve all problems, or please all the people all of the time. When we make a decision, we are typically choosing among a myriad of possibilities that all contain some positive and some negative aspects. When I make a decision, I am selecting what I perceive to be the options with the most benefit and the fewest costs in the areas I value the most and for the people I care most about, including myself. I make the best decision I can with the information and resources available to me at the time I make the decision. If I gain more information or resources later, that doesn’t mean my choice was wrong. It was the best one I could make at the time. I am free to make another decision now based on the information I now have.

When I do make a decision, I might still have doubts about it. I may have difficulty tolerating doubt and uncertainty. I might berate or belittle myself through harsh self talk after I’ve made a decision, telling myself how stupid, worthless and incapable I am. It is possible that delaying decision making has been self protective, and has kept me from harming myself with the negative self talk that follows decision making. I may berate myself for months or years about a decision that wasn’t perfect. I might even change my mind in response to my negative self talk, only to find I am as critical of the alternatives. Making a different choice would not necessarily make things better either. I may need to work on accepting things as they are.

We are human and humans make mistakes. We can learn from our mistakes and use the lessons learned to make better decisions in the future. In the meantime, decisions need to be made. Fear of making a mistake is not a good reason to avoid making decisions. Decisions are made in the present moment; not the future or the past. Some find it helpful to “let go” of the outcomes once the decision is made, and “turn it over” to God or a Higher Power. The following affirmation, if repeated several times a day for several weeks, can help with problems of low self worth or self confidence that keep me from making decisions:

I am a worthwhile, lovable, capable human being

with 100% positive regard

for myself and others at all times.


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    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      Wow, Murray. That's sad. You're right. Being able to trust someone, or just making the decision to trust in spite of not feeling like they can trust, would be a huge first step towards healing. Then they can begin working on what happened to them and their response to it. Thanks for that, Murray, and for stopping to read and comment.

    • Murray G Maclagan profile image

      Murray G Maclagan 7 years ago from The Hood - North Kamloops, BC Canada

      I and many of the downtrodden people I meet are walking wounded, we are so shattered by life, that we can't properly cope with the harsh daily reality, so we retreat into a very limited environment where we at least have some semblance of control. Imagine someone so mentally crippled by their work and life experiences, that they spend all of their time playing mindless video games, simply because if they stop, they will certainly start obsessing about all of their bad experiences and memories, and it is too painful to endure that reality. So to an outside observer the person appears to be wasting their life, when in fact they are wasted by life, and they are so scarred that all they can do now is try to distract themselves from remembering what happened to them. Until these people start to feel secure and supported, they will never let their walls down, and start learning how to love and trust others again. Ironically, not filing your taxes or dealing with crucial life matters can actually pay off later, the person sometimes gets a windfall when they catch up on everything, like a big income tax refund.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      I love your feedback, Benny! And I appreciate your taking the time to stop and comment......quite possibly one of the best decisions you've made all day.....for me anyway. Thanks Benny.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Nice hub. Pretty good explanation of the ramifications of decision-making. I like the affirmation you gave us at the end.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      'cause you're so worthwhile, lovable and capable! Thanks for stopping by tonymac.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub! This is so important for procrastinators and avoiders like me! I love the affirmation at the end - am going to adopt it for myself!

      Love and peace


    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      I like that Micky Dee! It's hard for me see myself as a force of any kind, but I like that a lot! Thanks for saying so Micky and for stopping to read and comment. I really appreciate it.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 8 years ago

      You're a positive force for good in the world Kim! Thank you Ma'am!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      I tried to upload a pic that said that, but wasn't able to! It's always good to "see" you billyaustindillon. You were one of my first fans!

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 8 years ago

      Great writing Kim. I am reminded of a saying. 'I used to be indecisive, but I am not sure anymore' :) Awesome hub it gets you thinking and looking within.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      Thanks least you've narrowed it down to a dress! I'm really glad you took the time to comment.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 8 years ago

      I do get indecision when I'm tired or when I slept just a little, sometimes I'm undecided about everything, even about the dress to wear! but in the most important decisions in my life I've following my instincts. I can not say now if these choises were right or wrong, but surely there is not choise absolutely right or absolutely wrong!

      good and interesting hub!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      Vern, I didn't even think of procrastination as indecision when I was writing this, but it sure is, isn't it? Thanks for the comment....and I hope that phone call is not too painful.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      I'm a procrastinator and an avoider of pain physical or emotional, so I put off the moment of "doing" perhaps more than it necessary or helpful. I always feel better after I decide to take the step and the STAPLES button is so true. "That was easy!" I'm dreading a phone call I could have made this morning, but decided to make it later this afternoon!! So thanks for the timely blog and knudge!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      Interesting. I hadn't heard of that til now. It would make an interesting hub! Thanks so much for stopping to comment Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 8 years ago from England

      Hi, I do get indecisive sometimes, but not always, I also do a mantra before I go to bed. When I say something good I tap my forehead at the same time. for example, you will do that job application tomorrow, and then tap my head. I saw this on paul mckenna's hynosis programme on tv. evidently it helps to push the idea into your head. thanks nell

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      Aw, E-man, you're too kind....Thanks for stopping by and being so kind.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 8 years ago

      there is absolutely no indecision here .....your hubs are just world class!!!!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 8 years ago

      Thanks so much Valerie. I'm always glad to see when you've stopped by to post a comment. (I need to do some reciprocating - but am waiting for this hubilicious theme to pass!) Yeah, a painful existance.....but treatable thankfully. I hope thinking on a deep level doesn't hurt too much or give you a headache!

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Very interesting hub. I am trying to remember if I have ever had a hard time making decisions, and don't think I have. It must be a very painful existance to go through life with this fear. This hub, like all of yours, makes me think on a deeper level. Good work; I'm voting you up. (: v


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