Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Making decisions can be daunting!
The big, hard, scary decisions of life – such as deciding whether to stay in a relationship or job, taking up a course of study, going ahead with medical treatment or even moving house can all be exhausting and unsettling.
The effects of all these can disrupt our sleep, affect our appetite, and negatively impact our relationships with others.
Sometimes even just ordinary day-to-day decisions can seem overwhelming, especially if we're under a lot of additional stress or have been unwell.
We do get stuck in the mud once a while but if you feel things are going round in endless circles: or you are overthinking and overcomplicating, imagining scenarios, endlessly pondering, then these situations might leave you feeling weighed down, blocked, frozen - stuck!
Trapped in this state we fear making the wrong decision, making a bad situation worse, not achieving the desired outcome, or causing pain to ourselves or others.
This keeps us stuck – too afraid to make a decision and feeling powerless to break free.
Here's a Four-Step Plan to Help You Move Forward When You’re Feeling Stuck
There are many things you can do to take back some control and assert some power.
Brainstorming your thoughts
It's helpful to get all your thoughts down in writing, where you can see them in black-and-white rather than have them constantly swirling around in your head.
Use a whiteboard or large sheet of paper with lots of room and draw up a chart with four columns.
Designate a specific time when you will be able to totally focus on this task, eliminate as many distractions as possible and decide how long you will dedicate to it.
The first step is to list ALL the possible options you can think of in a list in the left column. Make sure to include all the seemingly IM-possible and silly ideas, and the option to do nothing as well.
The aim is to get all the ideas out of your head in writing in front of you, so don’t censor your list.
Your mind will try to come up with all sorts of reasons and arguments not to even consider many of these options, but ignore these thoughts for now, and just write everything down.
Now, in the middle column, next to each idea, write all the reasons you can think of AGAINST this particular option, and all the possible unwanted consequences if you choose that course of action.
Examples of reasons against might be: cost, stress, pain, the law - and you can probably think of many others.
Again, the idea is to get it all out of your head and in writing in front of you – try to resist making any judgements about your reasons at this point.
Your mind may want to favour your preferred option, but keep going with this until you have at least 2-3 reasons not to do each option before moving on to the next step.
In the third column, list all the reasons in FAVOUR of each option.
Can you identify the potential outcomes if you were to take this course of action?
As in Step 2, try not to favour your previously preferred option, and at this point focus on listing realistic arguments in favour of all of your listed options, without making any judgement.
The final step is to carefully analyse all the reasons for and against each option.
You may wish to rate each of the options from 1 – 5 of how willing you are to try each of the solutions.
Can you identify ONE preferred option that you could commit to- and when?
What resources would you need to follow through with your chosen option?
Can you identify any barriers that might get in the way and derail your plan, and what are the strategies for dealing with these?
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Viktor Frankl
You may find that after completing these steps, you find that there is no perfect solution right now ... or that over time the situation resolves itself or that new options become possible.
And it may be that you’ve identified other actions to take before dealing with this particular issue.
Whatever your final decision - take ownership.
Say to yourself, “Today I choose to ….” and give yourself permission to review your choice again tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.
Be kind to yourself – this is hard, and if this decision didn’t matter so much, it wouldn't be a problem.
Re-connect with your core values, identify ways you can continue to be true to yourself, and take actions that align with what's most important to you. Use the values you have identified as a strong guiding force to point you in the right direction.
Talk to Someone
If feeling stuck is holding you back from life, it can sometimes be helpful to speak to someone who is empathic, non-judgmental and not directly involved in your life.
Counselling can be helpful in identifying troublesome thoughts that may be getting in the way, and in teaching useful strategies and tools that can help.
In my counselling, among other things, I help people find ways to:
Pay more attention to the things that matter
Quieten the negative inner voice
Calm the nervous system
Soothe the tension in the body
Speak with Linda have a chat or make an appointment. Linda offers In-Person Individual Adult Counselling in Port Macquarie and Tele-Counselling via Zoom.