Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Beating indecision


Have you ever been indecisive? It’s something we all experience at some time in our lives. Should I eat vegetable or a salad; should I go out or stay in; Costa Rica or Cape Town? Indecision is a normal part of life but for some people it becomes an agonizing ‘fork in the road’ and it paralyses some people into chronic indecision. What can you do if you totally freak out every time you have to make a decision?

Keep it simple

As Barry Schwartz wrote in his book titled “The paradox of choice”, too much choice can actually pose a problem and lead to diminished fulfilment. Think of it this way. If you lived in a small town/village and you went to your local store to buy a bottle of red wine, you’d be happy if you bought the best bottle out of their selection of 12 red wines. Consider that same bottle if you moved to a large city where the local store offers 100 different bottles of red wine. That same bottle of red may not seem quite as enticing. We start to feel we are missing out and not getting the best offer. This is what too much choice does. It actually limits our contentment rather than adding to it. We begin to worry that we aren’t getting a good deal and that others might be getting more than us. A sense if deprivation (real or imagined) leads to social comparison and we end up on the treadmill of despair that we aren’t living the best possible life.

Limit your choices and reject the idea that you are missing out if you don’t know about every offer that is out there. You will drive yourself mad. Keep it simple and be happy with what you have. ‘Satisficers’ work with what they have, ‘Maximisers’ always think there is something better out there – guess who is happier?

Distinguish between what you want and what you like

Sometimes, what we want isn’t actually what we like. I saw a client today and she was telling me how annoyed she is that her boyfriend keeps her separate from his 2 daughters and feels left out. She tells me she wants to feel included. When we delved a little deeper, she said that when she had spent time with his daughters though, she was miserable. They were unfriendly and rude to her, barely talking to her. They are also very spoilt and not fun to be around. So, she wants to spend more time with them as that represents inclusion to her, acceptance from her boyfriend but the reality is that is isn’t what she likes. Get clear about wanting and liking. Often we want something out of principle or for external validation but if you focus inwards and ask yourself what truly makes you happy – you may find there is a clear divide between what you think you want and what you actually like! Ask yourself this question: “If I get what I want will that make me truly happy?”

Write out the pros and cons

Be factual, take the emotion out of it. Look at the bare facts of the two options. This can often help to clarify the direction you need to go in.

Every decision is a learning curve

It’s a part of life that we will all make the wrong decision now and then. Don’t see it as a huge catastrophe, look at it as a learning curve. Every decision you make, whether it works out or not will teach you something – welcome to living on Planet Earth! Don’t tress yourself out with pressurised statements such as “I must get it right”; “I can’t afford to make a mistake”. That isn’t helpful in any way and won’t help you to make a better decision either. Challenge “musts” and “Shoulds” – who said?? Where’s the Rule Book for this? There isn’t one so why do you want to place rigid mental rules on yourself? Stop it.

Uncertainty is a part of life, work with it rather than resisting it. Of course, do you risk management before making a decision but then trust your gut and go for it. Don’t over think things – get excited at being more indecisive!

Mandy X       Meal time…soup or salad, salad or soup??   Arrghghhghghg……   ?