When I visited a good friend recently, she was telling me about her plans to organise a surprise 30th birthday party for her boyfriend. It was very clear that she had worked herself into quite a state, and hadn't been sleeping well. My friend is usually level headed, except when she has to decide on things that are important to her. That's when her calm self simply disappears and anxiety rears it's head.
When you want everything to be just right, just like she did, she found those decisions near impossible to make, and her stress levels increased dramatically. She had gotten herself completely stressed out by indecision.
I realised she's not alone, so here are 4 programmes that we run which contribute to a state of indecision and some ways you can move through it. Please share with me the ones that you have developed.
1. Being unsure of your own ability
Anxiety about making choices comes about when we're just not confident in our own ability, knowledge or experience. We just don't trust ourselves to make the right decision.
When we're under pressure, we imagine we are not as able as others. That is simply not true. The truth is that we all have our own unique and valuable life experience, knowledge and ability just like the next person. You are the best person you know to make decisions for yourself.
What you can do to reassure your inner self and learn to trust your own ability, is set a daily affirmation. Saying 'I completely trust my ability to make the right decision' or 'My inner self knows how to make decisions and guides me' will soothe your stress and put you in a calm place.
2. Moving Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Anxiety can be triggered when we think we will loose a familiar or comfortable feeling and we become uncertain of what will happen next. Thinking about the consequences of making a decision can take us out of our comfort zone.
Indecision happens because it can feel better not to make a decision and keep in the zone. It feels safer to stay, even if you logically know things have to change.
Did you know that fear and excitement trigger the same responses in the body? So when you start to get those feelings, take a step back choose to 'label' what you are feeling as excited instead of scared. You might need to practice at first, but perhaps then you can go some way to seeing the decision and change as an exciting adventure instead?
You might not know it now, but you do have the ability to learn, adapt and change.
3. Wanting To Be Perfect
We all wish to be able to make the RIGHT decision and for the outcome of our decisions to be good ones. Decision anxiety comes about when we want it all to be perfect.
But what is perfect? It will differ from person to person, so perfect doesn't really exist. All it can be is 'good enough' considering the situation. The truth is that we must trust that things will all be good enough and we will be able to cope with whatever happens - good or bad.
So can you be more accepting, trusting and excited about things?
4. Being A People Pleaser
This is an all too common trait amongst those of us who are indecisive and experience anxiety. We are all so different, how can we please everyone? It's impossible.
Yet you are sensitive, kind and thoughtful, and want people to be happy. That's also a very nice way to be - but it must be balanced. What I mean by that is in order to remain calm, make decisions from your instinct and trust yourself, you must care enough about yourself as much as everyone else. If you don't, your overall health could suffer.
You might think this is selfish - it is not. That would be to only care for yourself. So putting yourself first, or at the very least, equally to everyone else, instead of last, is empowering. You will feel stronger and safer because your needs are being met. As a result, others around you will notice your energy and feel better too.
Do any of these resonate with you? Are you unsure of your own ability, don't like to move out of your comfort zone, want things to be perfect, and for everyone to be happy all of the time? Be assured that decision anxiety can be eased just by knowing what's 'coming up' for you when you're experiencing feelings of stress.
Now you know more, you might just be able to put some suggestions into practice and get into a better state of mind.
Which moves me to my final point - how can you get into a good state of mind when you have to make a decision, and you know that you're just not in 'decision mode' ?
Did you know that something really profound happens when you mix decision making with being relaxed and letting go? The key really is to let go of the need to be perfect, and of pleasing everyone. Just take the first steps.
I suggest that you go for a walk and get outside to reconnect with nature. If that's not available to you right now, then have an early night tonight. 'Sleeping on it' will help, and if that's not appealing, maybe just put it off for a couple of days. Make a decision about the decision, and release it. The aim is to get in a relaxed state then you can hear your inner voice and you can choose, and it will be the right choice.
What if you have to make a decision right now? If you're really up against it, and you just can't do what I have been suggesting, take some advice from Life Coach Michael Neil.
I don't mean 'flip out' - I mean flip a coin. Choose heads for one outcome and tails for the other and tell yourself you will stick to the outcome. Flip it.
Then notice whatever you feel whether its heads or tails. Are you pleased or disappointed?
Remember that you can trust your instincts, and your gut may well be right. If you still don't know, maybe it doesn't matter either way. The point really is to choose to do something (and not making a decision is still a decision!) and move forwards.
Practice flexing your decision muscles - and you will move out of anxiety and indecisiveness and into an empowered state, feeling safe and trusting yourself.
Even if you have to change your mind later - you have at least made some progress. And the thing is that on the whole, life usually works out when you're flowing rather than when you're stuck.
P.S. If things don't work out, it's always a valuable lesson that you will learn from!
*Image from 123RF.