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Trouble Making Decisions?

By Dr. Linda Sapadin

Do you have trouble making decisions? Are you hesitant about committing yourself to tough tasks? Are you forever undermining yourself by focusing on what you did wrong?

If so, here are two ways to help you become more decisive and confident.

1. Recognize that making no decision is - in fact - making a decision.
Postponing decision-making - then doing nothing - is, in fact, a decision. If this is your modus operandi, you place yourself at the mercy of others or at the mercy of fate. Is this your aim? Do you really want others to make decisions for you about the direction your life is going? Do you really want fate to take its own course - with no input from you?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it's time for further self-examination. Please, take a few moments to ponder these questions:

Why do you think you're incapable of making your own decisions?
What would be so bad if you made a decision and it didn't turn out as well as you expected?
If you don't decide things for yourself now, when will you?
Don't confuse not making a decision (avoidance) with postponing a decision. Yes, it may be wise for you to:
Postpone a decision till you have more information;
Postpone a decision till you feel less overwhelmed;
Postpone a decision till you speak with others whose opinion you value.
But don't fool yourself. Differentiate between avoidance and postponement. And realize that it's usually counter-productive to go down the avoidance path.

2. Be your own best friend by encouraging and supporting yourself.
Your first impulse may be to turn to others for decision-making, encouragement and support. Good! It's terrific that you have supportive people in your life. But don't let that prevent you from building your own strong foundation.

If you're frequently asking others how to handle a situation before you even come up with your own ideas, you're reinforcing your dependency on them. In effect, you're saying, "I can't do this all by myself." Such a statement diminishes both your confidence and competence, building an ever more fragile future for yourself.

Certainly, it's good if others are there for you, helping you out if you need it. Hence don't cut yourself off from outside help. But do resist the temptation to turn to others before you turn to yourself. To foster self-reliance, ask yourself these questions:

What do I think would be the best decision?
What would I like to do?
What specific resources might I explore before I make my decision?
What options are available to me?
Asking yourself such questions clarifies your own thinking. Then, if you do seek input from others, you won't come across as weak (i.e. I can't do this.) but as strong (i.e. I'd like to receive your input about my ideas.).

Encouraging yourself is especially important when you're feeling down. When things haven't gone the way you expected them to, take a sober look at what went wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Cultivate your inner resources. And believe in yourself.

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at

Visit her newest website Six Styles of which is devoted to understanding and overcoming debilitating procrastination patterns.

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