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  • Writer's pictureJ.C. Manning

Indecisiveness: The Path to Inaction

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us," - Spoken by Gandalf the Grey in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy book series The Lord of the Rings.

Have you ever deliberated on a decision so much that the opportunity slid away?

Well, you are not alone. I want to think that it has happened to all of us more than once in our lifetime: frequently for some people and scarcely for others.

I know it happens to me every once in a while, regardless of all the personal work I have done. In the end, we are all human beings: human beings living a human life. And the funny thing about decisions is that, at least in my experience, they can seem bigger inside of us than what they really are outside of us and vice versa.

Go figure.

"Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right." - Phil McGraw

Now for me particularly, I have noticed that indecision, whether others' or my own, has an unmistakable relationship to the fear of loss. As redundant as it may sound: behind every decision, there is always a choice. Behind every choice, there is something that we hold onto and something that we let go.

Whether we choose A and let go of B, or vice versa, or even when we let go of both, we are connecting to a loss, or more accurately, to a sense of loss. The 'bigger' the decision we need to make, the 'bigger' this conception of the loss. This sense of loss connects us to pain. And let's be honest here. Feeling pain and/or discomfort is not something we really like.

There is an instinctual drive within us that makes us want to avoid pain (especially the emotional kind). To avoid this feeling the pain, we avoid the sense of loss. To do avoid the sense of loss, we avoid making decisions. Hence, we fall into a vicious cycle of indecision as a state of being; leading us to the procrastination of life.

Great. Now what?

Well, let's let that sink in. If there is in fact a connection between decision-making and our fear of loss/avoidance of pain, we can start by playing with our conception of loss/losing. The first step to face our fears is to understand them and once we do that, we can meet them halfway. It is easier to fear what we do not understand.

So, our first order of business is to do some introspection on what loss means to us.

Have I ever felt this before? What are my beliefs surrounding loss? Is there anything to gain from feeling loss? Is it possible that feeling my losses can help me grow and be appreciative of who I am and what I have? What does it really mean to lose something/someone? What does it mean specifically to me?

Now, in ontological terms, the underlying emotion within our sense of loss is sadness; sadness is defined by who/what we have lost. So, in this train of thought... am I allowing myself to feel my sadness? Or is it one of those emotions that I tend to suppress?

The act of asking these questions and answering them will help you understand your relationship with loss and decision-making, and DO something about it.

Is there a Coaching tool that you know is efficient in dealing with loss?

One such tool that is available to everyone and has guaranteed results is gratitude. Simple and powerful. The ability to see the potential gifts as well as the losses that come from a decision, is a way to tilt the balance in the favor of taking action. The reason is that we stop living in fear and avoiding loss, and start to live in wonder and embracing the gifts and losses. It is a shift from the fear-of-loss mindset to an excitement-to-experience mindset.

As I am rereading this piece, I am reminded that we all come to life without a map and compass, so it is okay to get lost from time to time. Right? So in the words of Phil McGraw... "Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right"! Either way we learn and grow!


The views expressed in this article are not to be taken as hard truths, but rather as flexible guidelines. These views are merely personal conjectures based on my own experiences, my coaching background and/or existing coaching theorems.

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