Being indecisive has been associated with conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, and depression. It is often seen as a negative trait that leaves individuals preoccupied with worry. Substance abuse often coincides with mental health disorders, complicating a person’s situation. Luckily, there are some simple ways to start making decisions with confidence.
What Does It Mean to Be Indecisive?
Someone who is indecisive has trouble making decisions. They might spend far too long in the grocery store choosing between two brands of coffee. Planning a vacation can take weeks of research just to pick a city. On the job, projects can take longer than normal to complete as every decision is reconsidered. Indecisiveness affects people in different ways.
It Can Be Paralyzing
Making decisions takes a lot of thought and energy for some people. Even after making the decision, they might question whether they made the right one and change their mind yet again. This may seem like a simple problem to overcome for quick decision-makers, but it can be debilitating. An individual may desperately want to make a choice, but they can’t figure out what the best one is. This comes with escalating levels of self-doubt and anxiety the longer they swing between options.
Which Conditions Share This Trait?
Attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder is a condition that affects a region of the brain responsible for decision-making. An individual with ADHD can struggle to pick a starting point for a task. If there is a lot of information to process, they can become overwhelmed and unable to move forward.
Issues with decision-making are features of some mental health disorders, such as:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
These disorders share feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety about current and future situations. Someone with OCD may be fixated on the idea that they may be a “bad person” if they choose a particular brand over another, like coffee, for example. Anxiety can lead a person to ruminate over the things that could go wrong on their first day on the job. They wonder, “Should I have accepted the other job offer? Maybe I’m not a good fit.”
Additionally, a person with depression could seem incapable of making a decision simply because they have no interest or energy to do so. They are so overwhelmed by emptiness and lethargy that they can’t begin to entertain the thought.
Reasons It Could Happen
Indecisiveness could have been acquired as a personality trait in childhood if errors were criticized harshly or children weren’t allowed to partake in decisions. Authoritarian parenting styles can cause lasting damage to a child’s self-confidence and decision-making capacities.
On the other hand, some people are naturally indecisive, even if their family dynamics were strong. The following are some other reasons a person may struggle with decisions:
- They are afraid to make mistakes and experience setbacks. Feelings of guilt and regret can weigh heavily on the mind when the consequences are severe or impact others.
- They are trying to please others. Being inclined to people-please can mean the decisions are influenced by the preferences of others. The person may flip-flop in an attempt to do what others will approve of.
- They are a perfectionist. Wanting things to go perfectly can lead a person to become paralyzed with decision anxiety. The self-esteem of a perfectionist can be fragile as it depends on the good decisions they make.
How Can Someone Be More Decisive?
With dedicated practice, a person can start making decisions a little faster with more resolve. The following are seven tips to get started:
#1. Take a shot in the dark.
Sometimes, you have to just go for it. If you feel like you have enough information, don’t waste time getting distracted by the minor details.
#2. Imagine making a choice.
If you picked option A over B, what would that feel like? Would you regret it, or would you be happy? Pretending as if you’ve already made a choice can help you determine which option you should really choose.
#3. Ask one or two people.
Sometimes, people get stuck for a good reason. The decision might be a hard call to make. Having one or two friends to converse with can help you gain clarity. Involving more people can bring confusion.
#4. Flip a coin.
If two options are relatively harmless — like picking a restaurant — flip a coin and accept your fate.
#5. Make a pros and cons list.
This classic method can help organize and remind you of the reasons for a particular plan of action.
#6. Pick a new setting.
If you’ve been pacing the same space, go somewhere unfamiliar. Spend time in a place that is not associated with your normal routine or patterns of thinking. Being outside your comfort zone can help you see things from a new perspective.
#7. Accept the outcome.
If you make a choice thoughtfully with knowledge of the pros and cons, there is no reason to look back. Assume the mindset that there is nothing you can do now beside accept whatever outcomes flow from this decision.
Indecisiveness is a common experience for those with ADHD and other mental health disorders. It can take a toll on a person’s sense of competence, affecting their professional and social well-being. The co-occurrence of emotional distress and substance abuse is high, putting those who struggle with this at risk. West Coast Recovery Centers is a treatment facility located in Oceanside, CA. Our outpatient programs are licensed by California state. Clients who come to us are looking to resolve issues with alcohol and drug use and co-occurring diagnoses. We understand how frustrating it is to feel stuck when faced with even minor decisions. When this starts to impact your well-being, choosing drugs and alcohol can be the easy way out. Substances don’t provide any answers though, and they can hamper cognitive function. Our licensed therapists can help you work through these concerns. Call (760) 492-6509 for help today.