Discover practical strategies that can help you become more decisive.
Do you often feel torn between two or more options that sound equally appealing? If you do, you’re not alone. Every day, we need to make numerous decisions, big and small. Maybe you start your decision-making struggle when picking an outfit in the morning or thinking about whether you want your eggs for breakfast to be scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, or fried. Later in the day, you might spend hours thinking about whether you should authorize a business transaction or which job offer to accept.
Indecisiveness is the difficulty we have in making satisfying decisions (Appel, Englich & Burghardt, 2021). When we are indecisive, we evaluate and reevaluate the same set of information. We may spend a long time weighing the pros and cons of every option, only to be paralyzed by them.
Sometimes indecision is caused by having too many options to consider, such as when browsing the shelves of a supermarket for salad dressing and there are at least fifty different bottles to choose from. Nevertheless, the inability to make decisions has also to do with our upbringing and the society we belong to. For instance, a multinational study has found that Japanese individuals exhibited greater indecisiveness than American and Chinese participants (Yates et al., 2010).
Researchers have also found that childhood trauma alters brain activation patterns involved in decision-making. Simply put, young adults who experienced traumatic levels of stress as children were unable to evaluate risks associated with options, which in turn hampered their ability to make sound decisions (Birn, Roeber & Pollak, 2017).
How to Work Through Indecisiveness
Occasional indecisiveness isn’t all that bad. If you are indecisive because you are carefully weighing your options, you are likely to avoid rushing into decisions that you might regret later. If you tend to be indecisive in many situations, you may end up wasting your mental energy on trivial matters. Here are a few strategies to overcome indecisiveness that you might find helpful.
Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.