NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fear of Making Decisions: Indecision Becomes a Decision With Time

Many people find it difficult to make decisions about their lives, whether it involves family, romantic, relationships, friendships or career.  They approach decision making as if it is a "do or die" endeavor and fail to recognize that, with time, as the old saying goes:  "Indecision becomes decision" (anonymous quote).

Fear of Making Decisions:  Indecision Becomes a Decision With Time

Why Are People Afraid to Make Decision?
People who have a tendency to approach decision making with fear act as if whatever decision they make will put them on an unchangeable collision course with death.

But when you think about it, in many cases decisions that are made can be changed.

Fear of Making Decisions: Indecision Becomes a Decision With Time

So, for instance, if you're considering career options, rather than thinking that you'll be spending the rest of your life in a particular career, which makes possible decisions seem very daunting, you can recognize that many people change careers several times in a lifetime for a variety of reasons.

Maybe the career that they chose originally suited them at the time and no longer suits them.  Possibly, they're in a better position to do what they always wanted to do but didn't have the opportunity to do.  And so on.

Making No Decision, By Default, Becomes a Decision
You can only stand on the fence for so long before no decision becomes a decision.

Fear of Making Decisions: Indecision Becomes Decision With Time

So, for instance, if you spend your whole life wondering whether or not you want to get married and you pass up compatible romantic partners along the way, at some point when you're at the end of your life, you can look back and see that your indecision became a decision to remain single.

Depending upon how you feel about being single, that might be fine.  But if you live to regret your indecision, you realize that, by default, you chose to remain single, even though you might have done it passively.

Let's take a look at a fictionalized scenario of how indecision becomes a decision with regard to a romantic relationship:

Tom grew up in a household where his parents were constantly bickering and at odds with each other.

At an early age, Tom decided that he never wanted to get married because he believed that, even when two people entered into a marriage loving each other, over time, marriage spoiled everything.

During his senior year in college, he met Lori, a kind, intelligent, attractive woman who had many similar interests to Tom.

After they graduated college, Tom and Lori moved in together.  They lived together happily for several years--until Lori brought up marriage and having children.

Lori was already aware of Tom's feelings about marriage, but she hoped that he would change his mind  as time passed and he could see how happy they were with each other.

Tom was committed to their relationship, but he had a deep seated fear that everything would change, as it had for his parents, if he and Lori got married.

Fear of Making Decisions: Indecision Becomes Decision With Time

Over the next few years, Lori was patient and he and Lori continued to talk about the possibility of getting married.

Although his fears softened somewhat over time, Tom couldn't make a decision, one way or the other, as to whether he would marry Lori.  On the one hand, this was something that Lori really wanted and he didn't want to lose her.  On the other hand, he didn't want to ruin the good relationship that they had by getting married.

But as time went by, tension grew between them about the possibility of marriage.

Feeling that she was  coming to the end of her patience, Lori told Tom that she wanted to have children with Tom and she wanted to do this as a married couple.  She didn't want to wait any longer to have children.

Reluctantly, she told Tom that she felt his indecision about marriage was actually a decision, by default, not to get married.  She told him that she would stay with him until the end of the year and if by that time, nothing changed, she would leave.

Tom also wanted to have children and, for his part, he would have been willing to have children with Lori while they were living together.  But he realized now that, for Lori, this wasn't an option.

Feeling the pressure mount and not knowing what else to do, Tom sought help from a licensed mental health professional.

As part of his therapy, Tom worked through his fears, which stemmed from unresolved emotional wounds from childhood.

Overcoming Fear of Making Decisions

Over time, Tom recognized that his perspective about marriage was distorted by his experience of his parents' marriage, and that he and Lori had a much healthier relationship.  This allowed him to make a decision to get married to Lori and start a family.

When you're trying to make a decision, there are no guarantees that, whatever you choose, things will work out.

But, over time, no decision becomes a passive decision to do nothing, and that's usually the worst choice.

Like Tom in the fictionalized scenario above, many people have problems making decisions because of unresolved emotional issues that taint their decision making process.  In many other cases, people learned as children to be anxious about making decisions.

Getting Help in Therapy
One of the worst feelings that someone can have at end of his or her life is to look back and say, "If only I had…" (fill in the blank) when it's now too late.

If you have a decision to make where you have been on the fence for a while, you're probably aware that, at some point, doing nothing becomes a decision not to change, and this is probably not the option that you want.

So, rather than allow time to make the decision for you by default, you could benefit from working with a licensed psychotherapist, who has experience helping clients in situations similar to yours.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients with fear of making a decisions to overcome this fear so they could lead a more fulfilling life.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.