Of course the problem is not the actual decision but the psychological forces at work in the decision making process. In a decision about whether to do A or B there are actually three solutions.
1. Decide to do A
2. Decide to do B
3. Stay undecided or as it is called in psychotherapy - to stay stuck.
This child has made a decision why can’t some adults
Sometimes people can’t take solution 3 for very long because the circumstances mean a decision has to be made. For instance a new job is offered to you and you are given a month to decide. In this case one can make a decision by not making a decision. If the person remains undecided then they don’t take the new job. The decision is forced upon them and they don’t actually make any decision. Sometimes people can take solution 3 for many years such as in deciding to leave a marriage, or deciding to look for a new job or not.
So why would a person choose solution three? There could be a number of reasons.
They may have what is called a “stuck racket”. The person remains stuck or undecided and then agonises over and over about it. Here they are getting plenty of psychological strokes which we all need and it will also be proving to them some life script decision they made as a child. That early decision could have been something like, “Life is never easy”. They then set about establishing a life that is hard work and one way to do that is by agonising over decisions. This client needs to change the early decision and get their strokes in other ways.
Some people have what is called an “Always’ life script. This person was told by their parents - “Now you have made your bed you have to lie in it”. Once you have made a decision you have to live with it forever. As you can imagine this person will be very cautious about making big decisions because they have the view that they can’t change their mind later on. Which of course is a nonsense. This client needs the permission that it is OK to change their mind later on which of course one usually can.
There are times however when the decision is a one off and one cannot change their mind later, such as with a one time job offer. This raises another possible feature of the indecisive person. They think - “What if I make the wrong decision and regret it for the rest of my days”. I have always found this an odd sort of thought. This person needs to live in the Here & Now as the diagram shows. This person lives too much in the past rather than the Here & Now.
If I look back at my life in hindsight I can see that I made some bad decisions along the way but isn’t that the tapestry of life? What would my life be like if I had always made the right decision? However this is still missing the point. If I made the decision to go path A and in hindsight it probably would have been better to go path B what does that matter. I am now on path A and that means there will be whole set of life events and circumstances that are going to come my way. I have never been one to see the glass half empty, or to see if the neighbour’s grass is greener. It is a change in focus from regretting the past to looking at what one has now and what the future holds.
Some are indecisive because they have lost touch with their Free Child ego state. The Free Child knows what is the right decision to make. Those who are so shut off from that aspect of their personality can end up indecisive because they don’t get a feeling of what is the right decision. With such clients I sometimes flip a coin.
They have worked out all the pros and cons for decision A and decision B and they weigh up fairly equal. So the person remains undecided. I set the scene. I get out a coin and say heads is decision A and tails is decision B. By this time the client is wide eyed and feeling “Holy s**t my life is based on the flip of a coin!”.
The coin is flipped and it comes up heads so decision A it is. At that point sometimes the client will respond in one of two ways.
1. “Damn I wanted it to be tails!”
2. “Phew that’s a relief”
We have found out what decision the Free Child wanted.
Finally we have the indecisive client who is a dependent personality and basically wants me to make the decision for them. Do I make it for them? Watch this space.