How To Rise Above Indecisiveness

Medically reviewed by Lauren Fawley , LPC
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Indecisiveness is “characterized by [the] inability to decide.” Sometimes, the pressure to make the right call is present, as are concerns about the ramifications linked to making a poor decision. Although everyone may experience indecisiveness from time to time, habitual indecisive people can face uniquely problematic situations.

Decision making involves carefully weighing options and evaluating risks, but it's essential to remember that indecisiveness also comes with its own consequences. There are many instances in life when indecisiveness can cause a worse outcome than merely choosing in a timely manner would have. To overcome indecisiveness, adopting a few strategies can help in making more satisfying decisions and avoiding the negative impact of prolonged evaluation difficulties.

Assessing the dangers of indecisiveness

iStock/Kateryna Onyshchuk
Use skills learned in therapy to overcome indecisiveness

Indecisiveness is a human-universal phenomenon, as reported by a cross cultural psychology study of American and Chinese participants. The study results show that although the distribution of Indecisiveness Scale scores from self report questionnaires was similar across cultures, individual factors showed cross-cultural differences. Anxiety and worry were similar in both countries, but Chinese individuals had more difficulty planning free time than Americans. This indicates that some components of indecisiveness may be more culturally invariant than others.

The ability to rise above indecisiveness is an important skill; however, understanding why indecisiveness can be problematic is helpful. Indecisiveness is often associated with procrastination since it can lead to paralysis of the decision-making process. When an individual is unable or unwilling to make decisions, they may suffer from not taking action and consequently fail to take advantage of opportunities that could otherwise be beneficial. This inaction can also lead to stress, anxiety, and worry as one worries about making the wrong decision or missing out on something better.

Understanding the importance of being able to make a decision and stick to it can actually be motivational in the quest to rise above indecisiveness.

Someone else may make decisions for you

In life, there are certain times when you may not have an indefinite amount of time to make decisions. One of the reasons that indecisiveness can be dangerous is the reality that someone else may make decisions for you if you take too long. Everyday decisions and significant decisions alike are subject to this risk.

Every situation is different, but chances are that you want to be able to determine the outcomes that will impact you. Each circumstance in life will not always require you to make a quick decision, but certain circumstances will. During these times, you won’t want to be in a state of perpetual indecisiveness, as it can lead to trouble figuring out the best course of action, and ultimately, losing control over your own destiny.

You may fall into a pessimistic state of mind

The American Psychological Association explains that “worst-case scenario reasoning” is frequently brought about by indecisiveness. In many cases, indecisiveness can be triggered by carefully weighing options and the urge to evaluate risks before making numerous decisions. This can lead to making you spend hours thinking about potential outcomes.

Over time, consistently focusing on the worst possible outcomes in situations can lead to a pessimistic state of mind, which may contribute to major depressive disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. This isn’t healthy for you, emotionally or mentally; a pessimistic state of mind can encourage a vicious cycle of hesitancy, indecisiveness, and, later, possible regrets, impacting your job responsibilities and personal life.

The five best ways to rise above indecisiveness

The following five ways to rise above indecisiveness are strategies you can use in life, especially when you may struggle to make a choice.

1. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts


During times when you may need to make a quick decision, such as a business transaction, following your instincts can serve you well. As human beings, our instincts are often prompted by behavioral indicators and motivated by brain activation patterns made on a subconscious level. Learn to establish default options, like go to menu items or go to options, because this strategy automates your thought process. In addition, trusting yourself and doing what feels right to you is important; not only is this an excellent way to rise above indecisiveness but following your instincts can also increase your self-awareness levels (and your self-confidence, as well!).

2. Don’t let past mistakes control your present situation

To some extent, your past does impact your present. However, this doesn’t mean that your past has to control every move that you make in the present and future. In many cases, indecisiveness is partly fostered by fear of repeating prior mistakes.

Failure to let go of past mistakes can lead to overthinking and the inability to trust yourself. It is normal to make mistakes; these mistakes do not have to control or dictate what your present or future looks like. Accepting the past as a learning experience and moving forward with trust and confidence in yourself will serve you well. This acceptance can not only help you rise above indecisiveness, but also allow you to grow as an individual.

3. Determine your goal

When faced with a series of potential decisions, you will likely have a certain goal or endgame in mind. Keeping your mind focused on this goal and then determining which decision is most aligned with that goal is essential, even when both options sound equally appealing. This step plays a role in avoiding overthinking through ensuring that you are making the best choice for yourself and your goals.

If you’re unsure of your goals, try writing out the things that are important to you, what you’re hoping to accomplish in the near and far future, and then doing some research on how you may be able to reach these goals. Sometimes indecisiveness can be an aftereffect of lacking the necessary information. Don’t be afraid to take your time and figure things out before making a move. Pausing now and deciding later is better than trying to rush a decision when you don’t have to.

4. Make sure you’re in a sound emotional state

The National Institutes of Health explains that your emotional state significantly impacts decision-making. If you are working to rise above indecisiveness, being mindful of your emotional state when you struggle with decision making is essential. Do you feel calm and level-headed, or are you anxious and stressed out? Do you feel like your mental energy is tapped out? This matters more than most people realize.

If you are confronted by central route persuasion and asked to make a decision, make sure that you are in control of your emotion. More often than not, making quality, rational, and reasonable decisions require a clear mind. In order to have a clear mind, you need to be in control of your emotions. If your feelings are in control of you, rather than the other way around, the likelihood of indecisiveness increases. Challenging circumstances can arise in life for all kinds of reasons; it is during these times when managing your emotional state and making the right decision is most critical.

5. Be mindful of the company you keep

Use skills learned in therapy to overcome indecisiveness

Believe it or not, the company you keep can impact your ability to make decisions or lack thereof. If you continuously find yourself second-guessing or questioning yourself, ask yourself if the people around you do the same.

As human beings, we can tend to internalize certain behaviors, habits, and beliefs of those who are frequently around us. Therefore, if you are regularly around people who doubt themselves or urge you to doubt yourself, this can carry over to your decision-making. Similarly, if you are regularly around people who are negative and indecisive, these behaviors can also be internalized by us. 

Often, indecisiveness may result in you questioning yourself when you should be trusting yourself.

Additional avenues for support with BetterHelp

We understand that life’s challenges are different for each person. While some of us may struggle with issues that indecisiveness caused, others may face entirely different plights. No two issues are exactly the same, nor do challenges impact everyone in the same manner.

This is precisely why knowing when to ask for help can make such a significant difference. Even if you understand the need to rise above indecisiveness and follow the five steps listed above, getting professional guidance and feedback can never hurt. This is applicable whether you’re battling indecisiveness or another obstacle altogether.

If you want additional, personalized support, consider looking into online counseling with BetterHelp. A short questionnaire pairs you with a therapist who is available and best meets your needs and preferences, such as someone who specializes in stress and is LGBTQIA+ affirming, or someone who specializes in trauma and does not utilize religious-based therapy – whatever you need and prefer. 

Another important perk of online counseling includes being able to work with a professional during the times that are most agreeable to you. If you work odd hours, are constantly on the go, or otherwise busy, don’t worry. Your online counselor will ensure that you’re able to get in sessions regardless of where you are or what your schedule looks like.

Studies have found that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. For example, the National Center for Health Research conducted an in-depth analysis of dozens of internet-based mental health therapy studies. They found that online therapy is efficient and effective for treating depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, and more.

Like all forms of support and guidance, online counseling is a process. Working with an online counselor will challenge you, but this process will also help you grow and learn more about yourself. It’s important to be receptive to feedback from the professional who works with you; likewise, you should also make sure that your thoughts, feelings, and experiences are being heard.

Online counseling doesn’t mean you’ll never face any setbacks or hardships. However, personalized care and guidance from BetterHelp can give you the tools to aid success.


Some decisions are tough to make. However, if you find yourself more often than not having a difficult time making decisions, you may be experiencing indecisiveness. This can indicate that you don’t entirely trust yourself and can have long-term ramifications such as missing out on opportunities and others making your decisions for you. If you learn only one skill, it should be to always trust your instincts. Learning to trust yourself and make decisions promptly takes time and effort, but some steps can be taken to aid in the process.
Learn the subtleties of persuasion
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