Fear of making decisions: how to overcome it?

Are you afraid of making wrong decisions? In this article, you will know the keys to overcome it and make the right choices.

Fear of making decisions: how to overcome it?

How easily do you make decisions? How much time do you spend on those inconsequential calls? The fear of making decisions can become a major obstacle to living fully, as we spend our days doing it. Therefore, learning to overcome this fear is essential to feel satisfied with the life you lead.

Insecurity in decision-making has different causes, but it has been shown that it impacts life in a negative way. However, there are techniques that you can apply to work on this problem and feel better about yourself.

Understanding the fear of making decisions

When talking about fear or anxiety, these are often considered “negative” emotions. However, these feelings are natural responses of the body to different stimuli, just as with joy. Thus, distinguishing between “negative” and “positive” emotions is of little value. Rather, one could speak of pleasant and unpleasant feelings.

Following this line, although it may not be pleasant, fear has an adaptive function. Becerra-García et al (2007) published a work where they analyze the adaptive value of this emotion. The authors conclude that fear is a resource that keeps people protected.

Taking this into account, is it possible to say that the fear of making decisions is useful for people? Psychology points out that fear is a learned response as demonstrated by BF Skinner with the Little Albert experiment.

For their part, Koralek and Costa (2021) conducted a study on how the brain reinforces behaviors that bring rewards. In this case, the benefit would be to avoid a stimulus that is perceived as threatening or dangerous. Thus, the fear of deciding is the result of a cognitive distortion that creates the perception that choosing involves a risk. If the subject avoids it, he has the feeling of “security” as a reward.

Factors that influence the fear of making decisions

Returning to the above, there are a series of variables that are related to the difficulty when choosing. First, someone with overprotective parents could present this problem by associating independence with danger. Of course, this is an altered perception that arises from parental behavior.

In this same sense, self-esteem is another factor that conditions the fear of making decisions. González, Luz, and Mariella (2019) made a correlation between self-esteem and decision-making in adolescents from an educational institution. Based on their data, they concluded that there was a relationship between low self-esteem and difficulty in the ability to choose.

On the other hand, people with Peter Pan syndrome also tend to flee from elections. The reason, in this case, is the inability to assume the consequences that their actions could have.

How to overcome the fear of making decisions?

Now that you can better understand what the fear of deciding consists of, you should know that it is possible to overcome it. In the same way that you learn to fear certain things, you can also unlearn this response. To achieve the goal, you will know some habits to work on and improve in this aspect. Remember that consistency is key if you want to make a significant change.

1. Raise your self-esteem

It has already been mentioned that low self-esteem can be associated with a reduced ability to decide. So a logical alternative is to worry about feeling better about yourself. A good way to do this is to make a list of your positive and negative qualities to help you recognize your strengths.

You can also try using positive verbalizations or phrases that promote a better perception of yourself. These practices will be helpful in building a more realistic and friendly assessment of yourself. Consequently, you will feel more secure, stable and you will have less fear of making decisions.

2. Recognize yourself as responsible for your life

Sometimes the fear of deciding has to do with not recognizing responsibility for one’s own life. Sometimes people tend to blame everyone around them for the results of their actions. In this way, they are unknown as the owners of their lives and avoid making any kind of choice.

It is important that you begin to see yourself as solely responsible for the direction your life takes. If you don’t take the helm, you will likely one day realize that you are living someone else’s life.

3. Accept that mistakes are part of living

Many people are afraid to choose because they do not want to be wrong or they fear that they will not make the best decision. In this sense, it is important to make yourself aware that not everything falls on your shoulders. There are unforeseen situations that can influence how well or bad circumstances develop.

If things go wrong, you should know that you made the best decision you could with the resources available. That does not mean that you are a failure or that any other choice you make in the future will have the same result.

4. Go to psychotherapy

If you feel that the fear of making decisions paralyzes you, it is okay to ask for professional help. In the therapeutic space, it is possible to externalize and address the cognitive distortions that cause you suffering. In the same way, the psychologist can guide you with different techniques to learn to make better decisions. It is also possible to work on the sense of responsibility, self-esteem, and any other situation that is affecting you.

Remember that not being able to decide is an obstacle to your personal growth. There is a phrase that says “he who does not risk, never wins” and can be applied in this situation. If you don’t take the first step to change your life, you are likely living feeling insecure and unhappy. It is never too late to get over your fear of making decisions and feel better about yourself.

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