by Andrea M. Darcy
When it comes to a big life change, do you spend ages to take a decision, then sometimes sabotage and miss out on all?
Or do even daily decisions confound you, such as picking a restaurant? And is your indecisiveness frustrating for those around you?
Why is decision making so hard for me?
Severe issues with decisions are often connected to childhood. You can end up unable to take a decision because as a child you, for example;
For more about how the past has left you indecisive, read our article, ‘Decision Making Skills Not Great? Here’s Why’.
Therapy tools that help you take a decision
So then what can you do to become more decisive? Here are tools that a therapist might suggest.
One of the most powerful tools we have for feeling on the right track in life? Our personal values.
We can spend our entire adult lives never really questioning if what we think we value comes from us, or is what we have been told to value by those around us. Are you living out your parents values? Or those of your peers? Or your own?
If you often feel tired, if decisions make you feel drained and foggy? Then it’s likely you are going against your values.
When we get crystal clear on our own values, we can simply choose what is most in line with them. Decision- making made easy…
2. Tap in.
Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation are designed to pull you away from your racing thoughts about the past you can’t change, and the future you can’t control. You find yourself in the present.
And the more we are in the present, the more we can hear our actual thoughts and feelings. What do we think and feel about something without all the anxiety and judgement?
Mindfulness also helps you tap into your body’s reactions to what is around you, which can be great when snap decisions are required. When you are making a decision, does one option feel open, and does the other mean your stomach is clenching and your throat dry?
Not sure how to do mindfulness? It’s easy to learn (but then requires consistent practise to work). Use our free “Guide to Mindfulness”.
3. Brain dump.
Each time you are faced with a big decision, do you feel ‘fuzzy’? If you experienced any form of trauma as a child, stress can lead to a rising tide of anxiety, limiting beliefs, and inner criticism.
Free form journalling helps to get rid of this static that blocks decision-making, getting the mess in your brain out onto paper.
Get paper, promise yourself to rip it up after (this lets your unconscious mind relax and feel safe). Then spill out every and all negative crazed thought onto the page as fast as you can, not worrying about penmanship, or judging if it seems ‘crazy’. And of course rip after.
Read more about the ways you can use journalling to help yourself in our article, ‘‘How to Use Journalling to Improve Moods‘.
4. Play the movie.
Think visualisation is a ‘hippy’ technique? Not at all. It’s integrated into some modern forms of therapy.
Visualisation can access our unconscious mind, which can be more aware of what we want. It’s not clouded by the anxiety and judgement of our conscious thoughts.
Try visualising different options when next faced with a big decision. Relax as deeply as possible (meditating first can help, it stops anxiety from running the show). Conjure an image of yourself about to choose a certain option, then let images come at random, without judging the process. Think of it like watching a movie.
5. Go under.
Find visualisation too hard? Consider trying hypnotherapy, which also accesses the unconscious mind. It’s very good for helping you break through beliefs that are holding you back, such as the belief that you aren’t good at decisions.
Note that you don’t actually ‘go under’ with hypnotherapy, this is a myth. You are always aware of what is going on, and can choose to stop the process at any time. Read more in our article “Myths and Facts About Hypnotherapy“.
6. Put it on the chair.
The renowned chair technique comes from Gestalt therapy. You sit across from an empty chair and dialogue with something you ‘place’ on the chair. Often in Gestalt therapy that is a person or situation. But in this case it could be one of the options you are facing.
Say you are looking at two new jobs. Put one of the jobs on the chair and ‘talk’ to it (the empty chair). “If I take you, then what will the benefits be?” Now get up and sit in the other chair and answer back to your chair as the job. “If you take me you’ll be secure, calm, but bored”. Switch back and forth, ‘acting out’ the two roles.
Sound wacky? Maybe. But it can be very effective. It can feel as if making thoughts ‘physical’ opens up things you didn’t expect. Worth a try.
7. Get unbiased support.
The thing about friends and family is that they mean well, but they are invested in your choice.
A therapist, on the other hand, isn’t. They are only invested in you finding the outcome that leaves you the most mentally healthy.
And there is something about the safety of the therapy room that acts as a truth serum. Finally, a therapist is trained at advanced listening and reflecting back. They know how to ask just the right question for you to get to the heart of what is really holding back a decision.
And if it turns out your childhood has left you unable to trust yourself? Therapy can slowly build your self-esteem until not only decision making, but life in general, feels easier.
Ready to seek support and make better decisions? We connect you to top London counsellors. Not in London? Our booking site offers UK-wide registered therapists and affordable online therapy.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and personal development teacher with training in person-centred counselling and coaching, as well as a popular psychology writer. Follow her on Instagram for useful life tips @am_darcy