Paralyzed by Indecision

“Too many options can flood someone, yet their inability to choose may be directly tied to their fear of making a mistake. This is exponentially increased if they have had a history of being corrected when they were making a choice—or always being told what to do and what to want. Both extremes create self-doubt and the inability to connect to one’s own inner guidance” (Kimberly Key, Psychology Today).

If you are a normally decisive person and find yourself stuck in a season of “I just don’t know”, ask yourself what is motivating your indecision: genuine apathy, fear of failure, people pleasing, depression, perfectionism? Knowing the “why” behind the what helps get at the heart of change.

FEAR OF FAILURE: Erroneously, we fall into the trap that says, “You just make bad decisions” and you start to distrust yourself. Perhaps in the past year (or even further back) you took some missteps in life–either through limited understanding or maybe more pervasive foolishness. Either way, those options now blockade your future path by telling you, “if you keep making decisions for yourself, you’ll just keep messing up.” To counteract these lies, write down on one sheet of paper all the choices you can remember making in the last year (yes, I realize the task will be overwhelming and incomplete, but that’s not the point). On the other sheet of paper, write down the decisions you made that hindsight has told you wasn’t the best choice. Now put a frowny face by those decisions that were actually a stupid act of rebellion and not merely a misjudgment because of not having all the facts). Maybe you said yes to something you later regretted, but it wasn’t a moral indiscretion–that sort of thing.

PERFECTIONISM: Sometimes we just equate massive significance to choices that really aren’t a huge deal. Mole hills project themselves as mountains. How much does this “yay” or “nay” matter? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t make “the right decision”? Do you really need to know everything before you move forward? Is that even possible? And indecision is a ruling in itself. Don’t buy the lie that says you should not take risks or make judgments on your own life. There’s more than one good way; few decisions in life are between good and bad. Most fall in the equally good range or better and best, but ideal is not attainable. ” what you think will ruin your life, be it illness, disability, being single, not having children, probably won’t. Conversely, what you think will make you happy, probably won’t.” (Dan Gilbert). Don’t think there’s only one way that will bring fulfillment and happiness. That’s a trap. Recognize that you are human and therefore, limited in knowledge, understanding, vision, and you just have to do the best with what you have. Give yourself a break. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2).

be decisive

DEPRESSION: Which gives birth to which? If your personality normally falls into the confident or decisive nature and you find yourself saying things like “I just don’t know what [to cook for dinner, whether to change jobs or not, when to go run this errand, whether to volunteer here or there, etc.] and your indecision becomes a decision–a discomforting place of unmotivated insecurities–than your indecision could be caused by depression. Depression makes otherwise zealous and purposeful battleships listless boats wandering downstream without an oar. Whether your depression is caused by chemical/hormonal imbalances or by a traumatic experience (loss of some kind), take the time to seek counseling and professional help.

PEOPLE PLEASING: Hate to break it to you, but if your goal in life involves making people happy, you will be forever exhausted and frustrated. For one, people are fickle and unappreciative and as many people sit in the room so do that many opinions and desires reside. Factoring in everyone’s needs/wants is probably one of the most exhausted obligations we face. Next to its impossible status we find the ground littered with burned-out, well-meaning parents, sons, sister, friends, etc. A better question to ask is this: what does God require of me? What is He asking me to do in this situation? How can I best please Him? I know the answers don’t always illuminate in a “Enter Door #1” clarity, but discerning the voices in our minds helps us determine motivation and the Ultimate Voice propelling us forward.

Have you find yourself surrounded by too many choices and you feel paralyzed or even depressed — because nothing seems clear, even though you’ve analyzed it to death? I realized I needed to reinvigorate my heart by following God into the unknown by faith, rather than staying stuck, trying to make the best choice and guarantee safety.” Bonnie Gray

Let go of surety. Often what we want isn’t a life lived in wisdom but a life guaranteed free from pain or uncertainty–a life that requires little faith. Jen Wilkin put it this way: “Often, we pray for wisdom when, in fact, we are seeking knowledge. Tell me what to do, Lord. But we are not asking for understanding; we are asking for information. And in doing so, we betray our unwillingness to move from immaturity to maturity as a disciple” (In His Image, 142).

“God grants us the freedom to make decisions that align with who He is and what He has for us. We don’t have to always wait for this big ‘sign.’ Knowing the Lord means knowing His purpose – and His purpose is to make His Name known throughout all of the earth. We can be bold in making a decision that aligns with that. There is freedom in walking in through open doors” (Haley Deprato, What Indecision Teaches Us About Ourselves).

Be brave enough to ask yourself these questions: What do I value most? What do I want out of life? Who am I trying to please and why? What has God called ME to be? If I was in someone else’s position, sharing my story with myself, what advice would I give? What steps would I encourage him/her to take first?

” I don’t believe that God asks me to understand the intricacies or outcome of every little decision I make, but I do believe He has called me to participate with Him.” Rhett Smith

The Bible is full of stories about people who were faced with making tough decisions without knowing how they would play out

Do I trust God? Do I truly believe that He is sufficient in all things: my loss, failure, isolation, etc. and that His grace covers my inadequacies?

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