What makes decision making so bloomin' stressful — & what can you do to start oozing confidence.
Why is it so paralyzing, this decision-making stuff?
We have to make decisions every day about the little things: what to eat, where to shop, what to say to this person or that. And often enough we have big decisions to make too, like whether to go back to school or move from one town to another or change jobs or careers. Or, maybe, it's a decision about a relationship — is it working for you? Can it work for you?
If you find yourself feeling anxious, irritated or stressed about having to make a decision, regardless of what the issue seems to be on the surface — man, job, friend, or move etc. — the fact is, that man is not really the problem. Or rather, he's about 10 percent of the problem. This is quite easily remedied, with confidence, once you get nice and clear and solid on the other 90 percent.
In reality, the biggest issue for most people who stress about making decisions is what I call the "self-doubt double whammy":
a. You lack trust in your perception of yourself and of the world around you; and
b. You're stuck in some limited thinking, imagining that you have to get this decision right or else… The "or else" might be, "or else, I'm a failure." Or it might be "or else others will judge me". It might be "or else I'll never have/get/do/be what I want." Or… some other "or else" that's just as irrational and limiting.
You can appreciate why people feel paralyzed in making a decision if they are stuck believing that they have to make the "right" decision "or else", while they simultaneously doubt their ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Talk about a conundrum! Who wouldn't feel overwhelmed and procrastinate if they are thinking in this way? Maybe you can relate? I know I used to feel this way all the time — until I figured out what was really going on and what to do about it.
What's more, this way of thinking has another nasty side-effect, in addition to causing us unnecessary stress when we have decisions, big or small, to make. In my professional experience, it is this combination of extreme thinking (the "or else" worst-case-scenario assumptions) and the self-doubt in our perception of people and things, that leads people to get hooked into coping strategies such as dieting and weight loss stress, binge eating, eating disorders, addictions with drugs, alcohol, TV and the Internet. It's also why we settle for unsatisfying and stressful relationships.
These coping strategies stem from our confused attempts to lessen our current level of stress. But no amount of dieting or drinking or binging or of compromising yourself is ever going to make you feel good about yourself or build the confidence and self-trust you're really seeking.
If you are one of the many millions of people who are stuck using one of those coping strategies to get through your day, I have good news. You can completely free yourself of the weight struggles, food focus and other relationship or substance challenges by simply learning to know with confidence when you are thinking clearly (when you are seeing a person or situation as it truly is), and, armed with that confidence and information you are then able to make decisions that are truly right for you.
But without knowing this simple fix, most people just stay stuck doubting their ability to make good decisions, while telling themselves that this decision will directly impact their ability to be happy for the rest of their lives. In reality, it is exceptionally rare that any decision we make is going to "ruin our lives" and no decision can ever make us a "total failure". But if this pressure to get it right or else sounds at all like you then you might like to know what's behind this screwy thinking that keeps making life more stressful than it needs to be. So, here's the skinny:
1. You believe that you have to make decisions that other people (ie. everyone else, ever) will agree with, approve of, and that will make others happy — regardless of whether they are directly involved and whether or not they will impacted by the consequences of your choice. In essence, if anyone has an opinion that differs from yours, that makes you doubt yourself and assume they know more than you.
2. You believe that there is no solution that will truly meet all of your needs/cover all of the bases, and therefore you have to "compromise" (which is really code for "settle" and one of my absolute least favorite words in the dictionary! Many people suffer through situations they really don't need to be in because people have told them "you can’t have it all", "sometimes you have to settle", or "compromise is a necessary part of relationships". This is such bunk! But I digress…).
If you believe there is no way to find a solution that meets all of your needs and also works for others, you will naturally agree to solutions that kinda-sorta work but not really. You're not ticking anyone off — except yourself. This is the best way to ensure you become depressed and dissatisfied with your life.
Regardless of which of these two beliefs you're stuck with (and most people have both, until they learn otherwise), you're going to consistently make decisions that aren't based on what you — the real you, when you're not trying so hard to please everyone else — really want or need. Instead, your decisions will be based on making other people happy (or at the very least, offending the smallest possible number of people) and trying to get some small thing for yourself in the bargain. Stress, stress, stress. You'll never feel confident and solid in your decisions with that approach. Keep reading...
More personal development coach advice from YourTango:
- 3 Simple Steps To Improve Self-Confidence
- Love: Tips & Expert Advice
- Bad Body Image? 15 Ways To Improve Your Self Esteem