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Stop Second Guessing Yourself: 5 Tips to Feel at Ease with Decisions

Doubt

“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”  ~Unknown

A reader recently wrote to me:

“I struggle with making decisions and always second guess myself… I recently had to make a decision about something and after giving it a lot of thought, I decided. Now, months later, my decision is eating me up and I can’t stop thinking I made the wrong decision. So I guess my point is once you decide, how do you stop yourself from second guessing?”

I know I’ve been there, having made a decision I not only second guessed, but wish I hadn’t made and couldn’t take back.

I think there are two parts to each of us: who we are day to day, and who we are in our broader intentions. Second guessing comes when the smaller part—the one that is at the effect of everything—is afraid of the greater part that’s forging a new way.

When we make any decision, for better or for worse, we affect change. And sometimes it’s scary to be responsible for the change we affect. That’s why I love the saying. “Make a decision. And then make the decision right.”

We never know where our decisions will lead us and we can’t know before making them what the aftermath might be. But only after making the decision can we deal with what comes next. Never before.

There is an assumption that a decision that ends up hurting someone’s feelings, causing friction, or rocking the boat is somehow a wrong decision.

But why would that be the case?

It could mean the broader part of you helped you make that decision in order to break something open, learn how to deal with discomfort, learn how to create a boundary, or take care of yourself amidst someone else’s disapproval.

It could mean the broader part of you helped you make that decision to learn how to create dialogue, deepen a relationship, or simply say “I’m sorry. I made a mistake”.

There is no such thing as a wrong decision because we are always course correcting. The way a pilot navigates a plane from one place to the next is by setting the course destination before taking flight and then course correcting along the way.

Similarly, that’s how we grow—taking from what we have learned from the past and building on it for the future.

That being said, how can we allow the process to unfold more smoothly? What can we do to stop ourselves from second guessing? I’ve come up with these five suggestions:

1.  Trust yourself.

Making a decision sometimes forces you to grow in areas where you’re not comfortable. When you second guess yourself, it’s usually because of that discomfort. But it’s important to remember that change happens incrementally. Even if you’re not seeing an obvious positive result yet, it might be coming. And your broader intentions led you there for that reason.

2. Choose a new thought.

Stop entertaining the idea of having made a wrong decision. There is no power in that. Instead, know that things are working out for your good and that you are learning and growing while you find your bearings.

3. Assess what you’re learning.

Because we are always in a state of flux, there may very well be things you will do differently the next time. Ask yourself, if I had to do it over, what would I do differently? And then congratulate yourself, because this is how new behavior is born! You can’t learn if you’re not playing the game.

4. Get comfortable with mistakes.

There is such a thing as grace. Time gives us an opportunity to fix all sorts of things we think we may have screwed up. There is power in simply letting things go and deciding to re-evaluate them at a future date.

Ask yourself “What if I did make a wrong decision? Is it okay for me to have made a mistake?” And then let it go. Getting comfortable with making mistakes could have entirely been the lesson! But we are always making the best decisions we have access to at the moment.

5. Finally, go easy on yourself.

Like a friend of mine likes to say, “Life is a hard hat zone. We are always under construction.”

You are not who you were yesterday and you are not who you will be tomorrow. So, make peace with that. Life is full of second chances. We are always in a state of evolution.

In learning how to walk, you had to crawl first, and maybe you wobbled and skinned your knees a few times. But eventually, you found your bearings and trusted your stability. As tiny as you were, you were able to stand straight and put one foot in front of the other as you moved forward.

Not so far off from what it’s like as an adult.

Photo here

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About Sonya Derian

Sonya Derian is the owner and founder of Om Freely, a company dedicated to helping people live out loud, tap into their power, and transform their lives. To pick up your free ebook: Om Freely: 30 Ways to Live Out Loud, please visit http://omfreely.com . Or check out her online store at: http://cafepress.com/omfreely.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/4BINL4IHAGKWQ6WW7YNQO3U7A4 *Craftin' DM*

    Thank you. This helps a lot. I decided to end a 13 year friendship with someone that only now did I recogize as a toxic. When I did, she was as flippant as ever about me. In the end, her behavior was hurtful but confirmation among the many years of pain and struggle that it was the right thing to do. I know that my heart is now open to receive more positive friendships and my time is better spent caring about someone who cares about me.

  • Likethebigsky

    I don't understand why you would prematurely want to sway someone's doubt. The doubt is there for a reason, just like sadness or anger. If you teach someone how to superficially cover it up then how will they learn from it? It is a trigger. If they don't learn what it's reason for existing is, what it is triggering, then how will they get to the next level of learning. Maybe the doubt is triggering a way to correction that needs to be incorporated BEFORE the decision is made. Listen to the doubt, Don't make the decision and then REACT to the doubt. The doubt, if listened to and ACTED upon, will bring forth the transformation required of the situation. The doubt, if excused and REACTED to, will only bring forth superficial change and more doubt thus perpetuate the ongoing cycle that so many seem to be stuck in and need more excuses for.

  • http://twitter.com/Sam_Russell_ Sam Russell

    I think Sonya is saying more that doubt needn't be an overriding creature in our lives. You're right in that doubt challenges us to think about our actions, but for so many of us, we take this too far and cripple ourselves.

    Similarly, in situations where there is no room for doubt, second-guessing can create deeper problems than throwing caution to the wind and getting stuck in.

    Sometimes it's helpful to do now and think later. The benefit of this is that you can see where you've come from, adjust and keep going. Even when you're in the middle of it all, you can still make changes. I don't see this as reacting.

    Challenging self-doubt is a conscious process; most of the time we react and things go tits-up, but when we come to terms with making mistakes, as Sonya has said, we feel better prepared to put aside that nagging voice and push forwards. This is a conscious act, not a panicked reaction.

    There's always room to slow down as you're suggesting, however it's important not to grind to a halt.

  • http://twitter.com/Sam_Russell_ Sam Russell

    Sonya,

    Thanks so much for this post, it's come at just the right time!

    I had a job interview yesterday and was lucky enough to be picked as one of the five candidates to move forwards onto round two. When I got home, I instantly started doubting myself. Would I be able to do this? Have I made a massive mistake?

    I went to bed stressed out of my head. I have my reasons and some of them are very good reasons, but what you've said here has encouraged me to acknowledge the potential obstacles ahead and take the plunge at the next stage of selection.

    I won't be abandoning my doubt niggles entirely, I understand that they will have a valid place in my efforts to nail this job.

    And if I don't succeed? I doubt I'm going to be having any doubts about my performance ;)

    Kudos

  • http://twitter.com/nigeldesigns Nigel De Vigne

    nice logo

  • http://mmaaggnnaa.wordpress.com/ Marie

    Hi, Sonya -

    One of the “tricks” that has helped me with this issue is to remove words such as “right”, “wrong”, “good” and “bad” from the majority of my experience. There are a very few instances where those words truly apply, but usually they are arbitrary judgments that do more harm than good.

    - Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  • Sonya Derian

    Kudos to you. And congratulations on your job potentials! Trust yourself and trust that everything happens for a reason and happens in its own time. Doubts are normal, it's how you move through them that is your opportunity. Go forth and prosper :-)
    S.

  • Sonya Derian

    Congratulations on ending a toxic relationship. Sometimes we outgrow the people we've grown up with and then realize they haven't been the healthiest relationships! I've gone through a few of these myself. And it take courage. So congrats. And if the friendship is meant to be in your life, it will come back into your life, but on your terms :-)

  • Sonya

    Hi Marie (coming out of the trees)

    I totally agree with you. I, too, think staying away from “right” “wrong” “good” “bad” is a good idea. Maybe I didn't mention it in this email. . . I write a regular newsletter, must have been in another one – I like to refer to them as “strategies”. Was this strategy effective or ineffective? What worked about it or didn't work? I think that it makes it an easier way to objectify and move on, instead of beating yourself up for a “right” or “wrong” decision. Thanks for the post :-)

  • Sonya Derian

    I understand what you're saying and I am not in anyway saying to avoid your feelings. But I think, too often, doubt is a camouflage to fear which means it is fear and not doubt that is stopping us from moving forward. And this often stops us from making ANY decisions which can lead to paralysis. I also think that we are far more triumphant than we allow ourselves or think ourselves to be. And that grace is on our side. So, even if we make a decision, proceeding past doubt and then discover it was the wrong decision, we are always at choice. That's why I like the saying “Make a decision. And then make the decision right”. Because sometimes we find out something about ourselves that is equally transformative, after we make a “wrong” decision. I don't think there are any rights or wrongs here. I think there is growth anyway you decide to work with it. And that it is all good.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/XX6P4MO6VGPKGJVLE43V2E7A7Q Ashna

    This is a wonderful post. I so needed this!! Thank you so much!

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  • christopher dent

    thank you…