If you have ever sat for 15 minutes while your first grader made a decision on what socks she wanted to wear, then you know the importance of decision making. Picking one choice over others has a few elements that need to be addressed- confidence in self and general decision making, the possible consequences, and actually knowing your opinion (what you like, don’t like, etc).
Teaching someone how to make a decision can be difficult. Whether it is your kid, friend, significant other, or yourself- here is some tactics to help make decision making a little less painful.
Tactic 1: Go with your gut
Answer without thinking. The key to this tactic is making sure our brains don’t overthink. By doing this you are going with your gut and bypassing all the muck of rumination. As a facilitator it is important that you hear their answer without judgment so that they can start to trust their gut reactions and in turn gain confidence in their decision making.
Tactic 2: Narrow it down
Having so many options can be overwhelming and can stop decision making in its tracks. You can help the indecisive person by narrowing the options down to two or three. This can be done based on proximity, price point, differences and so on. Letting them choose from these 2-3 options creates less social pressure (you have made part of the decision for them) but still gives them the power to make the final choice. They gain a better sense of self because they can better manage their thought processes and understand consequences.
Tactic 3: Get out of your head
If you find that the decision making is getting caught up in your head- change where you make decisions. This may feel silly at first, but this is an aspect of body awareness. Think about what your tummy wants right now, or even your feet. By being mindful we are getting out of our heads and making the decision a less personal thing. Plus, it can give us different insights into what we want or don’t want- helping us better think though all the positive and negative consequences.
Tactic 4: Repetition
We need to make lots of decisions in order to gain confidence in it. If the situation does not call for you to make a decision, at least know what your opinion is. We can go a surprising amount of time coasting without really knowing how we feel. So even if you are not making a lot of decisions in your day to day living, at least know your opinion. As you make more decisions it will take the pressure off when it is time to make the next one and next one, until you start to feel relatively comfortable in the process.
Make sure you talk about why the decision making process is difficult. Do they feel fearful that they will make a bad decision? Are they worried about social upset? There is so many reasons to be nervous about decision making- so ask the questions and get the conversation going.
My Challenge to you: First things first- Know your opinion. Depending if you are helping another person make decisions or it is yourself, determine which tactic you think would be the most effective. If you are not sure (or can’t decide) try them all once and see what the results are. Most important however, is to remember that you are a wonderful person who deserves to know what you want. (and go get it!)
Happy decision making friends!
– Jessie the Therapist
Photo by: Andre Hunter