What is Indecisiveness?
Have you ever found yourself unnecessarily obsessing about a decision? Or putting off making a decision or, even further, avoiding it entirely? Does the idea of making a decision overwhelm you?
Indecisiveness is a form of chronic procrastination and occurs when a person must make an important decision but winds up feeling overwhelmed by the number of options and is unable to make a decision efficiently – or doesn’t make the decision altogether.
Many individuals experience indecisiveness to a certain degree. When faced with several options, making a final decision may fill them with dread. They may obsess over the details of the choices in front of them to the point where they needlessly prolong the decision-making process, resulting in greater emotional distress.
A study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences that was conducted in the Netherlands suggested that women are more indecisive than men. This finding is in line with other research demonstrating that women are more prone to experience anxiety compared to men.
Causes of Indecisiveness
Numerous factors cause indecisiveness in people. First, having many options to choose from can overwhelm people and leave them feeling uncertain and undecisive. Next, people can be indecisive if they are trying to please others. In this case, they may not say what they want because they are trying to be flexible and easy-going and let others decide for them.
Further, people struggle to make decisions because they do not believe in their ability to make the right decision and believe others are more capable of deciding for them. Finally, perfectionism can lead to indecisiveness when people obsess over making the “perfect” choice.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms associated with indecisiveness. Below are some of the common ones:
- You struggle to make decisions and become stressed out when you must do so.
- Others more easily influence you with strong opinions.
- You lack confidence in your decisions, and even after you make a choice, you spend much time questioning whether it was the right call.
- You carefully consider all the options and weigh the pros and cons of each – to the point where you ruminate over the decision.
- You would rather not decide at all than make a wrong decision.
Linkage between Indecisiveness and Anxiety
Individuals who experience much anxiety likely have trouble making decisions. Luana Marques, a psychologist and President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, explained how this works in our brain’s functioning; When you’re anxious, a part of your brain called the limbic system is activated. This brain region is responsible for emotional reactions, memory, and motivation. The most rational part of your brain, on the other hand, is the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system and prefrontal cortex compete for attention.
If you’re anxious, your brain goes into fight-or-flight mode, which fires up the limbic system. Your prefrontal cortex loses control of reason altogether. This may lead you to feel paralyzed and unable to choose if you decide while in this state of mind.
Tips for Overcoming Indecisiveness
If you don’t make efforts to overcome your indecisiveness, you may become trapped in an endless cycle of indecision and frustration. Below are some tips for bringing yourself out of the pattern of indecisiveness.
Try not to overthink the outcomes of your decisions
It is hard to predict future outcomes, and therefore, making decisions is often a crapshoot. To stop yourself from overthinking, it may help to remind yourself that you have no control over the outcome of your decisions.
Find a balance between listening to the rational part of you and your intuition
Making the right decision for yourself requires following your mind and your gut. Pure logic will convince you to make a safer choice, whereas going on instinct may lead you to make impulsive decisions. Think of the saying, “Listen to your heart, but take your brain with you.”
Let go of fear
If you face difficulty deciding, you are likely afraid of something. Reflect on what is stopping you from making a decision and try writing down your thoughts and feelings about it.
Think about a time when you made a great decision
Reflect on how you came to make that choice. It can be helpful to remind yourself that you have made good decisions in the past and find a decision-making strategy that works best for you.
Make the choice that will open more options for you in the future
No one wants to feel trapped with limited options. Some decisions restrict your flexibility, while others may open more doors for you in the long run.
To gain confidence in your decision-making, you may want to practice. Try making small, low-stake decisions throughout your day, such as what you are going to eat for lunch or what podcast you are going to listen to on your walk. Practice making decisions faster and without worrying about if you are making the right decision.
Being indecisive isn’t always a negative thing. Sometimes hesitation offers you valuable time to reflect on the situation, do more research, and weigh the pros and cons. What is important is not letting your indecision keep you trapped forever.
Connect with a therapist who’s specialized in women’s mental health today.
Ferrari, D. J. (2021, March 4). What makes people indecisive? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/still-procrastinating/202103/what-makes-people-indecisive
Key, K. (2017, July 24). Uncovering hidden causes of indecision. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/counseling-keys/201707/uncovering-hidden-causes-indecision
Legg, T. L. (2017, September 28). 5 steps for overcoming indecision. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/5-steps-overcoming-indecision
Smith, J. R. (2020, July 9). Anxiety makes us bad decision-makers. Here’s how to do better even if you’re worried about everything. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/09/health/anxiety-decision-making-coronavirus-wellness/index.html
Strauss Cohen, I. (2017, November 5). 7 tips on how to kick the habit of indecisiveness. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/201711/7-tips-how-kick-the-habit-indecisiveness