Making decisions can be a scary task for many people who are afraid of what will happen if they don’t make the right decision.
This fear can affect people even when it comes to little decisions and choices, such as lunch or clothes choice.
Decidophobia is a term first introduced by the philosopher Walter Kaufmann and is defined as the irrational fear of making decisions. In its most severe form, people that have this fear can experience serious panic attacks just by thinking about the fact that they have to make a choice.
Panic attacks cause an increase in our heart rate, shortness of breath, increased blood pressure, excessive sweating, muscular tension and shivering.
What is more, this irrational fear of making decisions can lead to blurred thinking, a lack of lucidity and greater dependency on others to decide for you, which can lead to a complete loss of orientation and control.
To avoid these uncomfortable feelings, individuals suffering from decidophobia often avoid any possibility of being placed in a situation where they might need to make a decision. This can become a serious problem since there are many things we need to decide on, from our minor daily choices to choosing a school or a major.
Signs and symptoms of decidophobia
Physiologically and psychologically speaking, symptoms of decidophobia include anxiety, panic attacks, muscle tension and excessive sweating, but also an increased dependence on others when it comes to making decisions.
If you think you or someone close to you may be suffering from decidophobia, here are some signs that can help you determine if it’s time to seek professional help.
You go to great length to avoid making decisions
Phobias are generally characterized by avoidant demeanor. When the fear becomes too strong it causes genuine avoidant behavior – the things you might want to do still occur but you can’t do them because you are too scared. When we are talking about an irrational fear of making the wrong decision, this fear is so harrowing that people will go over and beyond simply to avoid making any kind of a decision. As a matter of course, this can result in irreparable damage – despite the fact that decidophobia may not be life-threatening, an incapacity to make decisions can negatively influence your relationships and the amount of control you have over your life.
You rely on others to make decisions
If you are afraid and unable to make decisions, but they still have to be made, you then rely on others to do it for you. With time, you could develop an unhealthy dependence on other people.
The reason for such a high level of dependency on others could be the feeling that your life is out of your control. But, bear in mind that you can become dependent on anybody – a sibling, parent, partner, friend, a boss,… and should it happen that the person you most rely on in your life goes away, you become demoralised and even more out of control.
Your indecision impedes your life quality
Like most psychological problems, phobias cause anguish. That is what differentiates simple indecisiveness from decidophobia – it is one thing to go with the flow and let others handle your decisions, but if you are so afraid of making decisions that it causes impairment to your everyday life, now is the time to talk to a professional.
By refusing to make a decision you are doing what you fear the most
One thing you should understand is that by refusing to make a decision you have actually made one – of the worst kind.
As the fear holds you back, you start second-guessing yourself and avoid making decisions whenever you can. And in doing so, the no decision making part becomes a decision you stick to.
Choosing to give up on your freedom to decide can feel like you are giving the reins over to someone else – but, in fact, it is a decision within itself.
There are several paths you can take to tackle decidophobia that include medication to ease the effects of anxiety, exposure therapy, and cognitive psychotherapy in which a therapist can help you learn to let go of the attachment to the effects of your decisions, while guiding you to rebuild and upgrade your decision-making skills.
For starters, try reducing the number of decisions you make on a daily basis but don’t give up on them completely. You can create a meal plan for the week and decide on the basic outfits to wear each day so you don’t have to be bothered by it anymore – and once you’ve set these two decisions into motion try adding a few other ones to each day.
You can also try to shift your point of view and ask yourself what someone else would do in your shoes instead of actually leaving the decision up to them.
Try to keep in mind that the outcome isn’t the only thing that’s important. If you fail, you can try again. The majority of choices aren’t everlasting and there is always a way to correct your mistakes – if you make them.