Indecisiveness

This is one of those things that hits everyone at one time or another. For some though, it can impede growth and paralyze.  Chronic indecisiveness is a developmental roadblock. There are many possible reasons one stagnates in their lives due to indecisiveness. (Many of the thoughts discussed here come from the book “Overcoming Indecisiveness” by Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin)

One reason is lack of self-confidence, this may seem obvious to some, but to those who struggle with decisions, it tends to be a blind area. Another reason, which has an overlapping three-fold mechanism, first involves self-effacement. This is a word that, in this context, essentially means self-erasing. It is a mode of operation that seeks to “cope” with potential conflict by avoiding potential conflict. A habit of this allows the person to increasingly disconnect from themselves. Often the decisions that are made when a person is actively seeking to avoid being assertive (aka make decisions) are ones that can prevent success and encourage failure. Secondly, an inappropriate dependence on others often accompanies this. Unhealthy dependence on others is a form of self-effacement. It is highly correlated with the desire to be liked.

People who habitually rely on others to make decisions for them often find ingenious ways of getting an “ally” to decide all sorts of issues that they are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves. (Rubin, p. 50)

The final piece in this “trifecta” for indecisiveness is the obsessive need to be liked. Unfortunately, good decision making is not consistent with winning popularity contests. This is devastating news for some. For those struggling with insecurities, self-loathing, dependency, and detachment from their feelings, being liked becomes the central issue of the decision rather than the substance of the choices themselves.

Finally, another main road block to decision making is the belief that there are perfect situations and the possibility of perfect decisions. Obviously there is no such thing as a perfect decision, but many people with this road block are not aware that they are inundated with perfectionistic tendencies, and live in perpetual anxiety and/or stagnation.

It is imperative that people stop being afraid to rely on themselves for decisions in their life, to take responsibility for their own decisions, and learn to live with the consequences- good or bad. Obviously there is wisdom in prayer and processing with wise others in our lives, but it’s when these things become crutches and tools to avoid responsibility that there is concern. Overcoming indecisiveness requires much insight and courage. Self-awareness will aid the recovering indecision-maker for,

“without a real self, we cannot relate honestly and fruitfully to others or really help anyone else.”

Story-Telling

We were never meant to be alone. A factor that can influence severity and duration of various mental illnesses is whether or not a person has a supportive community. Isolation can lead to a downward spiral. It has been said that joy is not complete until it is expressed, shared with others. We need other people. And not just those superficial conversations about the weather and clothes, but rather authentic soul-bearing friendships that allow us to share the ugliest parts of ourselves and still be accepted. Those types of friends are rare, I admit, and I don’t recommend leading into a new friendship with that type of content. But when we can be vulnerable and share our stories, we invite others to become vulnerable as well.

It is important to share with others the good and the bad in our lives. It helps to lessen the burden of the painful. It allows the blossoming of the joyous. But what if you have a hard time expressing your story?

In his new book The Examined Life, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz also discusses the importance of telling your story. In a conversation with Jane Clayson for On Point radio, Grosz talks about the emotional damage that results from an inability to express your life in stories.

I’m really interested in what happens when people can’t tell their stories. So often people come to see me and of course the most difficult story from their childhood was the one their parents…didn’t help them find the words for. ..maybe because of guilt…[the parents] don’t know how to help the child articulate their feelings…Sometimes we don’t know how to put into words the most important things that a child may be going through. Those stories don’t go away, they get buried in us, and they come out in all sorts of different ways. And part of what therapy may be about…are people who are then troubled or caught in an impasse because of these stories not being known to them, not having the words for them.

Stories are important because it helps us to understand ourselves, our world, and those that inhabit it. Stories help us to make sense of things, and to heal. We all have the ability to hold memories. Perhaps these memories are accessed as feelings first, with no real content. And then as one begins to untangle the confusion, the memory emerges in more clarity as a coherent story and can be dealt with in a healthy way. It might involve grief, it might involve anger, or any other slew of emotions, but the power behind the memory can be dismantled. We need trusted others in our lives to give us the space and the grace to process these things. To help us articulate the pain. Or to simply sit with us and acknowledge our tears. In this chaotic world, we were never meant to be alone.

Some ideas on articulating your story:

  1. Try journaling in an attempt to articulate your story
  2. Read memoirs or other biographies to help inspire and bring your story own to life
  3. Talk to a trusted friend
  4. Paint your story, or aspects of your story