If a decision seems way too much to handle, it’s probably because you haven’t broken it down into digestible segments. “Rather than pick the option which has the most pros and the least cons, it is more healthy to pick the option which reflects the most important needs of the situation and/or your values,” recommends Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist.
The most significant source of anxiety is not having control. And while it’s easier said than done, as much as you can, remember that no one has complete control over everything, and some things are simply out of your hands, reminds Jennifer S. Heslop, a certified leadership coach. Once you have gone through the decision-making process, try not to think of the coulda, woulda or shoulda. “ For those of us who have decision paralysis, being unable to control the outcome is the most harrowing. There’s a tendency to ruminate over your decisions after you’ve made them,” she continues. “But, you’ve done your due diligence, researched, refined, prepared for, and now you’ve made the final decision. It’s done, out of your hands, and you can’t turn back time. Stay present, move forward.”
Decision-paralysis doesn’t come from nowhere — often, it’s based on past experiences or trauma you haven’t dealt with yet. For instance, Dr. Thomas says maybe you made the wrong decisions about important things before, and you now don’t trust your instincts. Or, perhaps you previously made decisions that unintentionally offended or hurt others’ feelings. “Whatever the underlying reason is that’s causing a person’s decision-paralysis, it can be beneficial to have a psychologist assist you with identifying and then working through the origins of the decision-paralysis to decrease the occurrence of this problem,” she recommends.
Mark a deadline in your calendar, on your phone, set a timer, or do whatever you need to do to ensure you bite the bullet. “For small decisions, like where to go for dinner, set a deadline of five minutes,” Heslop says. “If you can, go to a quiet space and run through the options and choices, come to a conclusion of what is the choice that may yield the most positive outcome. For big decisions, extend the deadline time but stick to it.”
Last but not least, don’t discount that feeling in your gut. More often than not, when people say ‘I don’t know,’ they actually do know, but they are nervous to trust it, says Tiffany Hardin, a wellness expert, and entrepreneur. “The knot in your stomach, a fast heartbeat, a flushed face are all physiological responses that can be interpreted if we tune in,” she says. “If your body is giving you a response — listen up! It may sound strange, but fight or flight responses happen in even the most non-violent of decisions. Trust your own voice, and make full-bodied decisions.”
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