If you’re here reading this, I’m willing to bet you have decision anxiety: why the heck else would you have clicked on a link with this title, otherwise? For your own comfort, you have my permission to skip down to the number section of this post. If you’re unsure of what decision anxiety feels like, come with me on a trip through the creepy tunnel of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Imagine this scenario:
You forgot to plan what to make for dinner. Seems like a simple enough mistake, your pantry and fridge are pretty well stocked, this shouldn’t be an issue.. But it absolutely is for your crippling decision anxiety.
You heart races as you consider your options. You try to think of what’s going to go bad in the fridge, we have to use that bunch of asparagus before it’s soggy garbage and we have to buy another one to let rot in the fridge again. We didn’t thaw any meat, so what can we thaw quickly? You are short on breath as you contemplate chicken, but you had chicken last night, and your husband works hard all day and deserves some variety in his life. Of course he’ll say he doesn’t mind, and in truth he probably won’t even notice a repeating protein in your dinner calendar, but YOU’LL know, and it’ll eat you alive from the inside.
You are frozen in a stale mate between your options. Feeling limited when there are numerous choices in front of you, and you know it’s not even that big of a deal, you just need to pick something and stick with it. Your kids are hungry and your husband will be home soon and you’re just standing here in the kitchen crying because this small decision feels like life or death and you’re terrified of making this insignificant choice so you finally say “F it, we’re having cereal tonight.”
That’s decision anxiety. It’s completely irrational, based out of ridiculous fears, and it can be overcome, but in the moment it really doesn’t feel that way. If you are experiencing decision anxiety in any part of your life, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. We will get through it. You aren’t alone.
- Practice a daily decision making affirmation list. Change your mindset from fearful to fearless. List out all the good decisions -big and small- you’ve made throughout your life, this year, this week. Get specific. Reflect on these decisions you’ve made, what would life had been like had you decided differently? Get grounded in your good choices and appreciate your past decisions.
- Make a pros and cons list. Sit down and make an old school list of pros and cons for each of your decisions. It can be affirming and encouraging to visually see what effects your decisions have. Conversely, it’s also helpful to see that many decisions we feel the anxiety about don’t really have negative effects. Sometimes there are no bad choices.
- Delegate or defer the decision. Is this a decisions that YOU have to make? If you can pass the choice to someone else, do it. Let go of that need to control the situation when you are unsure of your own decisions. There’s no shame in passing. In the case of dinner decisions, text your husband and see what he’s in the mood for, or ask your kids. Additionally, is this a decision you have to make RIGHT NOW? Sometimes when we have the opportunity to postpone a decision, an answer will come to us when we stop trying to think of it. Or maybe you need to have a snack or a nap to make a good decision.
- Indulge in the worst case scenario. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? Give thought to this. Often we will find that the worst case scenario isn’t really all that big and scary. Sometimes there isn’t a bad choice, just different ones.
- Flip a coin. When faced with a choice and you’ve already confirmed that neither is a “bad decision,” just flip a coin and get the decision over with. Let the universe make the decision for you and move forward.
Bonus Tip: Prayer could be a fantastic approach to decision making. Call out in the name of Jesus to the Creator of the universe to calm your soul. Taking the time to quietly come before God prayer, to open your heart to His loving grace, can shift your perspective and still the waters of your soul. Approach your problem after taking it to Him. Lay the decision at His feet and leave it there, knowing whatever the outcome, He will be beside you. Let your heart be calm as you trust that His will be done.
Feeling overwhelmed by your own thoughts? Beating yourself up for what’s left undone at the end of the day? Do you continue to tell yourself you are not enough, no matter how hard you try to believe that you are? Check out the Happy Mom Brain Workbook for all the tools to get your mindset back on track and move forward confidently with peace and joy.