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6 Reasons why you can’t make up your mind – Doubt and uncertainty fog memory

Posted Mar 18 2013 5:00am

Reasons why your indecision harms your memory

There are reasons why you may not be able to make up your mind. When there is an emotional storm going on in your mind it is difficult to make a clear choice. Here are 6 reasons why you may be having difficulty making up your mind and as a result are fogging up your memory.  

1. You have to Choose

Having to make a choice between two or more alternatives can be exhausting. If you have two potential jobs which one do you pick? Some of you are saying I would like to have to make that choice. Problem is that once you pick one the other is out.

This is especially a problem in relationships. Lots of men have a problem making a commitment. Once they pick one person to be with all the others start looking more attractive. You start second guessing yourself and wondering if you made the right choice.

What people in this situation often do is try to avoid making a choice. That is also a choice. Some of the most life changing decisions occur when we fail to make a choice and as a result a whole world of possibilities closes to us.  

If you don’t give the company who offered you that job a yes, they may proceed to offer that job to someone else. If you don’t go to a college you may forever wonder what would have happened if you had gone there.

You can only walk down one road at a time and no matter how fast you walk the outcomes change if you picked one thing and not the other.   

There are three kinds of choices. Good and Good, Bad and Bad, and the worst kind Good-Bad verses Bad-Good. These are referred to in the language of psychology as approach-approach, avoidance-avoidance and approach-avoidance choices.

Good-Good choices

Pick between two dinners you like and no matter which one you pick it should be good. This decision does not get much thought. Either way is enjoyable and you get pleasure either way. Usually over time we get our default pattern of making this choice. We either have one favorite meal we pick most of the time or you become someone who always looks for something new on the menu.

Fail to make this choice, say you can’t decide which person to marry, you may date a lot, but you don’t get to have the experience of watching children grow up as part of a family. 

Bad-Bad choices

Pick between two things both of which are bad and we try to pick the “lessor of two evils.” Most of us think of the elections every couple of years as this sort of choice. Most of the times there are things we don’t like about both candidates but we have to pick one or the other or let some idiot pick for us.

The good with the bad verses the bad with the good choices

These can be tough choices. If you make either choice there may be some pleasure followed by paying some costs.

Choices between getting into drugs and alcohol fall into this category. There can be some fun and there can be some pain. The question is how much is good and when does the pain begin.

These approach-avoidance verses avoidance-approach choices may result in paralysis and failing to do anything as we have seen is also making a choice. Sometimes that choice is that the fear of being wrong keeps us from getting in on something good. Sometimes giving us some pleasure protects us from some pain. The problem is to figure out which is which.

Fail to make this choice, say you can’t decide which person to marry and you may date a lot but you don’t get to have the experience of spending your life with someone you love and who love you.  

Pick the wrong person, have lots of exciting sex and you are stuck with a babies-parent that you don’t want to be around. Children’s parents are for life.

Balancing this “you need to make a decision” with the consequences of the decision in the short term and the long term can be challenging.  

2. Confusion when you don’t know what your choices are

Classic example of this is the high school senior picking a college and a major. Once you pick a college it gets harder to change that decision. No one has the time or energy to check out all the schools and often this decision, despite its life changing consequences, is made with less than adequate information.

You can change your major more easily but plenty of people find after they graduated that there are few or no jobs for their major. Too many people make decisions on majors on very little information.

The worst outcome of this occurs when you get a degree and then find you don’t want to have to do that kind of work all day long.  

3. None of the choices are what you want

Sometimes this is called artificially limiting your choices. You pick between two schools the one you want and the one your parents want without looking to see if another one would have been better.

This also happens when people jump into a relationship with someone because they think no one will want them and if they pass up this one person who is showing an interest then they are destined to be alone.

4. Emotional contents buried in your decisions

Some of us make decisions with our feelings when we should be making them with our heads. Just because something is scary does not make it dangerous. Also because something is safe and comfortable that does not mean it is the right choice.

Sometimes life is about stretching and trying on something new so that you can see who you can become given the opportunity.

Don’t settle for being less than you were meant to be because trying for something better will be scary.

5. Your heart is not in it

 If your heart is not in something, no matter how much you think this is the right decision you need to reconsider. If you can’t work up some enthusiasm when you begin on a life courses then what will there be left when you get along the path?

6. It may not be time top chose yet

One last problem with making choices. Sometimes we rush in to making a decision when we don’t have the information we need, and the time is not yet ripe.

Think about this before making any decision with which you are uncomfortable.

Is this something you are afraid of or is it something you don’t need to decide just yet?

Did that confuse you totally or are you ready to make that life changing decision?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com .

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