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Why can't I make decisions?

You have a little quirk and it's losing it's charm. "I'm terrible at making decisions!" you say, with your online shopping cart changing form daily but saved long-term on your computer, your kids notably un-signed up for activities until the last minute because you see the pros and cons of each, or your graduate school application languishing half-filled as the deadline comes and goes because you're just not sure if it's the right time.

The reason you can't make decisions is not because you're smarter and deeper and more responsible than everyone else.

Sorry.

It's more likely that you are a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to decisions. You feel that there IS one right answer for you out there and if you think long enough about it, you'll find it. That right answer will come to you in one of your late night thinking sessions and will not involve any risk.

Nah. In the light of day, you know that's not true, right? That's anxiety talking. Anxiety messes with the brain's ability to screen out distractions. You can't focus because you're trying to focus on everything. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in planning and decision making, goes offline. You know the whole fight- or-flight predators-on-the-savannah analogy, right? You can't think through a career change when your amygdala (danger! fear! safety?) is all fired up by advancing lionesses.

You've got to find a way to see things differently. Life is full of danger and unfortunate events. (Especially right now, with this little pandemic situation.) You can fight that or accept it and get good at dealing with these consequences when they happen. Usually they are much less destructive than flesh-ripping, hungry predators. You survive them all the time (the hurt feelings, the boring excursions, the bad dates) but you don't really notice your resilience because it's less memorable than the life or death stuff. You handled it and moved on. But if you really don't want to risk anything at all, build a little bubble for yourself and commit to not really participating in anything interesting. Be safe- and lonely and bored. That's a choice.

It'll eventually lead to depression, but it's a choice.

In order to gain clarity and see what's most important to you, you need to get that fear in perspective. Maybe now is not the time to make a major change, but if it is, know that distraction is the modern day equivalent of avoiding perceived danger. That open field where you might be vulnerable to lions, that discussion with your partner that might change your relationship. In my experience, telling yourself that you need to stop being silly and irrational does not work. Therapy helps, where snapping your fingers to change your mindset doesn't. You need to find out WHY it's so scary to you to make this decision; what it represents to your inner gazelle, in order to be able to move forward. When we figure out who is in there, keeping you stuck, we can talk to her and negotiate a bit. We can decide and move on.





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