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You Can't Decide, So What Should You Do?

Sometimes stalling or doing nothing are your best options.

Decisions, decisions — we make them all the time. Yet deciding to have pasta or salad may not be as difficult as whether to take a job, end a relationship or buy the purple boots (though sometimes the pasta choice is really hard.)

Making a good decision might require some help. The following are two simple tools that might help when you're really stuck.

When you feel pressured and a decision is impossible, when in doubt, stall. Stalling is the basic task of securing more time to think, feel or process information relevant to a solution or choice. We make many of our decisions from the gut — an intuitive reaction that honors an internal truth. Yet decisions made in haste might lack the necessary time to get in touch with that internal truth.

In those situations, allow yourself more time — “Let me get back to you, I need to sleep on it, Can I let you know next week, Can you put that on hold for me, May I have a few more minutes to decide." Buy yourself more time. Giving yourself permission to stall might just take the pressure off making a hasty and bad decision.

And then there are the times that you just don't know what to do and stalling won't help. For those situations consider doing nothing — decide not to decide. Sometimes it means just saying out loud " I can't decide" rather than choosing something that doesn't feel right. This may sound simplistic but giving yourself permission to do nothing is huge. It helps decrease the stress of having to make a decision and allows you a more peaceful platform to think. Deciding not to decide frees you up to seek the necessary internal or external validation.

Sometimes, decisions are just plain impossible. And you also need to factor in that perhaps obsessional thinking might be hindering your ability to make any decision. For that, you can work with a therapist to help you differentiate between obsessional behavior and just plain having no clear-cut solution.

Only time will help with those decisions that are impossible. Have patience with your own process of discernment — the thoughtful process that taps into your intellectual and spiritual self. Prayer can be particularly helpful when patience and courage are what you need. And most importantly, learn to be kind to yourself, no matter the outcome.

More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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