Indecision and reveries are the anesthetics of constructive action. – Sylvia Plath
I’m a terribly indecisive person. When out to dinner, I will change my mind three times as the waiter takes the order for the other guests. I have half a wardrobe in my car, just in case I decide I’m too hot or too cold or too uncomfortable while I’m out. I have three half-written articles sitting in front of me. I was going to expand on the list, but I’ve now changed my mind. I’m also contemplating if I should just go back to one of the other half-written articles. Perhaps I should take a walk or have some tea while I think about it. Maybe I should spend this time replying to messages instead.
You get the idea. Decisiveness is not my forte.
Indecision may or may not be my problem. – Jimmy Buffett
Being on the edge of making a decision, balancing between two or more directions, is something just about everyone has felt at some point. That feeling that the choice is weighing heavily on you; sometimes it is as simple as what to eat, other times it is if you should move to a new city, new job, new relationship. Often, the little things can almost seem as big as the life-changing ones. We become stuck, and making a solid decision just seems too hard. There are benefits to staying free to change your mind, of going with the flow, but many believe our commitments are the cornerstones to a ‘good life’. As Philosopher Martha Nussbaum says:
If you hold your commitments lightly, in such a way that you can always divest yourself from one or the other of them if they conflict, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want people to live their lives with a deep seriousness of commitment: not to adjust their desires to the way the world actually goes, but rather to try to wrest from the world the good life that they desire.
There are a variety of reasons why we might be finding it hard to commit, this can range from having too many choices to people-pleasing tendencies. For chronic indecisiveness, it may also come back to childhood and the fear of making a mistake. Those who grew up without being given opportunities to make (age-appropriate) decisions, or told the decisions they made were inadequate (particularly without proper explanations as to why), are more likely to be plagued by self-doubt and unable to connect fully with their inner guidance.
It is easy to beat ourselves up about being indecisive, or to complain about others who won’t stick to a decision. Yet, as with anything compassion, for ourselves and others, is so important. Moving beyond our wounds takes time.
It may be frustrating when someone (including ourselves) won’t make a decision or fully commit. I have come to recognise that the energy of commitment has to come from within, it can’t be forced. In depths of indecision, I try to remember the feeling of when I do dedicate myself. There is something true to the power of fully committing, whether it is as simple as what to eat, to how I want to live my life. Things fall into place in an almost syncro-mystical way: the universe seems to re-organise to fit the decision. And other choices flow more easily.
Sometimes all it takes is just one choice; letting the mind decide and the heart guide.
My Guiding Commitment
While everyday decisions still sometimes tie me in knots, I have made a larger commitment to help guide the smaller ones. It is a commitment to love. To live with love. Love for myself, for others, for the world. And with that commitment, I can easily move through life making the choices that fit best with my chosen path. What to eat for dinner becomes a decision on what is most loving for myself and the world. How I want to spend my time, returns to how I can give back in the most loving way.
Action cures fear. Indecision, postponement, on the other hand, fertilizes fear. – David Joseph Schwartz
When indecisiveness does inevitably plague me, when I feel my commitment to any one thing waning, I remember the below passage from German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. As his words move through me, I realise again the power of dedication, and suddenly I am re-centred.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back,
Concerning acts of initiative (and creation)
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor
all manner of unforeseen incidents
and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream, you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.”
Do you struggle with indecisiveness? How does a lack of commitment affect your life and how do you choose to move through it? We would, as always, love to read your stories and ideas in the comments below.
With a loving commitment to you,