Dr. Mel Tavares
No Decision is a Decision
We have to make decisions every minute of every hour of every day. Starting with the decision to hit the snooze or not, to shower or just use dry shampoo, to grab a bagel or an apple, which outfit to wear...and you haven't even been awake an hour.
As our day and week progresses, more decisions are made. Some stats I researched reveal that we make hundreds of decisions an hour, thousands of decisions a day. Phew!
We've probably all had days of being indecisive, and I would say it is within the realm of normal to be so overwhelmed that we just bow out for the day. When we are overtired, even simple decisions can be impossible to handle. The best thing to do is to pause and ponder what should be done. After a time of refreshing, we revisit the situation and make a decision.
Life decisions bigger than what to eat or wear are sometimes best made after seeking the counsel of others. That is using Biblical wisdom. Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) says "Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety."
I often encounter people who just can't make a decision, even after seeking the input of others. Worse yet, if all those asked for input give the same response for counsel of which direction to go with a decision, a person can still be immobilized and unable to make a decision.
Wrongly, people think that if they just ignore a situation and don't make a decision, everything will just stay status quo. In reality, making no decision is a decision that often has dire consequences. Suppose someone is ill and needs medication or surgery but can't make a decision as to whether to accept treatment. Not making a decision actually is a decision to not move forward with treatment. Someone trying to decide whether or not to apply for an open position may vacillate long enough that the opportunity closes. In that case, the indecisiveness created the decision not to apply. Not making a decision to take the car to the shop for maintenance is making the decision to allow the car to continue the mechanical decline.
I often hear "I just don't know which decision is the right one." Often times, the challenge exists because there are not clear right and wrong choices. More often, it is a case of better and best. My recommendation is to make a list of pros and cons and spend time praying or pondering the list. Which of the pros are really important? Which of the cons are really unacceptable? Deciding which car to buy is a perfect example of better and best. If you know what you want for features and both have them, it comes down to personal choice. Maybe one gets a little better gas mileage, while another has that cup holder you've always wanted. There is no wrong decision. Yet, some people are so anxiety-ridden that they cannot make the choice.
The anxiety stems from fear of the unknown and fear of consequences of making a wrong choice. In the natural, pros and cons and wise counsel from friends and family is the typical course of action in the decision-making process. Christians have the added benefit of a relationship with The Living God, who is happy to direct the steps of a righteous man. (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 37:23) He awaits our prayers, asking Him for direction and help.
In addition to prayer, much direction and counsel can be derived from reading the Bible. Psalm 119:105 (ESV) says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." If we spend time reading the Bible, getting to know God, decision-making becomes easier.
Three Simple Tips
As I mentioned earlier, we all have days of being overwhelmed and on those days, decision-making is hard. The same holds true for seasons of life. Some periods of time are more difficult than others. Here are some practical tips to help you deal with the indecisions.
You've got enough to decide each morning. Take the stress off by lining out your clothes for the week. When you wake up in the morning, all you need to do is reach into the closet and take the hangers for the day. No decisions necessary.
Meal plan. This can be as complex or easy as you want. For example, if I opt to have oatmeal for breakfast each day, I eliminate the need to decide day after day what I will eat. For some, there's comfort in knowing what food will be for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't judge. Whatever works.
Be positive about the future. Few decisions are life or death decisions and if down the road you feel it wasn't the best decision, you can make adjustments to put yourself on the path you are desiring to be on. Make a decision and then enjoy the benefits: the new car, different apartment or house, change in jobs etc.
If you are dealing with trauma and crisis, you may need to seek pastoral or professional counseling before you are able to make decisions easily. Please know that you are within the realm of normal. Few people experience trauma, grief, loss, or crisis and are able to function as well as others seem to. There is help, you will get through the circumstances that are overwhelming you, and you will begin to make decisions again. Start with what you want to eat for breakfast, even if it's oatmeal each day. Hugs to all who are struggling.