There’s something important that chronically indecisive people need to understand: They’re not actually interested in making a decision. Since this statement flies brazenly in the face of common sense, let me restate it differently.
Indeed, as these individuals anguish intensely over the pros and cons of a given option, they think they want to be decisive. But they’re fooling themselves. Behind their apparent sincerity, they’re cozying up to an old unresolved negative emotion (inner passivity) which involves feeling weak, helpless, and lacking in the sense of their own authority. This old joke satirizes the emotional predicament: “Once I make up my mind, I’m full of indecision.”
Through this emotional weakness, indecisiveness haunts a significant percentage of people. When they finally do make up their mind—after agonizing and procrastinating long enough—they’re likely to start being indecisive over some other matter.
The misery and self-defeating consequences of chronic indecision are the prices people pay to cover up an inner conflict. What is that conflict? On the surface of awareness, people do indeed want to be decisive. We all want to feel the pleasure and sense of authority that goes with making a good decision on our behalf. Deeper down, it can be a whole different matter. Indecisive people don’t want to feel decisive. They’re too tempted instead to “know themselves” through unresolved inner weakness. They are compelled to experience themselves through the old self-doubt, uncertainty, and sense of unfitness that is an emotional default position. At a deep level, a great many of us have known ourselves through that familiar frailty as far back as we can remember. [Read more…]