Decision Making Skills Not Great? You Might Have a Related Condition

Do decisions make you panic? Or does your lack of decisiveness leave those you love constantly frustrated with you?

If decision-making skills are a real struggle for you it could be related to one of the following psychological issues.

1. Low self-esteem

  • Are you concerned what people around you will think of your decision?
  • Do you fret you will make the ‘wrong’ decision yet again?
  • Do you feel dread or even fear when faced with decision-making?

Low self-esteem means that somewhere along the line you have taken on the core belief that you don’t do anything right. Any decision will be perceived as yet another chance for you to ‘mess up’.

A lack of self-esteem can stem from a childhood trauma. This can include things like bullying, not developing proper attachment to a caregiver, or sexual abuse.

2. Perfectionism

  • Do you often find that all options are lacking? Or wish you could combine options?
  • Do people tell you to stop ‘overanalysing it’?
  • Do you often regret decisions and worry the other option was indeed better?
  • Do you sometimes delay a decision so much in the end you just settle for anything?

Perfectionism will mean each decision in life feels a sort of test, yet you often feel disappointed with the outcome.

Living life from a perfectionist perspective can be learned behaviour from a very demanding parent. Or it can relate to a childhood where you were always criticised, or where you felt you had to ‘earn’ love by being ‘good’.

3. Depression

  • Do decisions just feel overwhelming in general?
    Do you feel exhausted and like you could fall asleep when you have to decide on things?
  • Do you do what you can to avoid being asked to make decisions in the first place?

Even mild depression can seriously impair your decision making skills. You can feel like your brain is made of sand. A 2014 study suggested that depression not only stopped intuitive reasoning, it led to negative thinking patterns that stifled any hopes of creative brainstorming.

4. Anxiety disorders

  • Do you feel completely panicky when faced with decisions?
  •  Can you overthink a small decision into something that seems life or death?
  • Do you tend to take what seems to be the ‘safe’ option at the cost of never doing what you want?

Anxiety is different than stress in that it has no obvious cause, but is a free floating sense of worry haunting your days. Because it causes so many distracting thoughts, it leaves you unable to think things through well and more prone to make poor decisions.

Anxiety and anxiety disorders can be again related to childhood trauma. It can also be related to a more recent trauma, like a big life change that has left you questioning your identity.

Adult ADHD

  • Does each decision seem to implode into a series of myriad of possibilities in your head?
    Do you get distracted by the feelings a decision creates within you?
  • Do you find it hard to trust yourself with decisions as you’ve been too impulsive in the past?
  • Do you often procrastinate when it comes to decision making?

Adult ADHD means you are distracted not just by what’s around you, but also by the noise in your head – all your thoughts and feelings. It causes impulsivity, which means you might have made rash decisions in the past that have affected your capacity to trust yourself to now choose wisely.

With symptoms that manifest slightly differently than in children, ADHD in adults can be overlooked (read our article on Adult ADHD symptoms for more, or our comprehensive guide to ADHD).

I can actually see myself in more than one of these issues?

Several of the above issues can be connected. ADHD often comes with a streak of perfectionism and can lead to low self-esteem, for example. And low self-esteem and anxiety can be forerunners of depression.

A mental health professional, like a counsellor or psychotherapist, can help you understand which mix of issues you have that are making decision-making such a challenge for you.  In the case of attention deficit, you will need to see a psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD for a proper diagnosis.

But surely I don’t need professional help just to make better decisions.

Decisions are pretty powerful. Poor decision making skills can mean:

  • your career doesn’t advance
  • your relationships suffer
  • your daily life is more challenging than it needs to be
  • you constantly feel bad about yourself.

A good mental health practitioner not only helps with your decision making process, they give you clarity on what a ‘good life’ means for you in the first place, freeing you to make decisions with far more confidence.

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Harley Therapy can connect you with warm, supportive counselling psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists in three London locations. now we connect you with great therapists wherever you are via Skype therapy. 

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