What Gets in the Way of Making Good Decisions?

Is fear, compulsive behaviors or people pleasing getting in the way of making good decisions?

What would it be like to feel more confident in making decisions? Would you be less stressed? Once you understand what's in the way you can change it. Here are some tips for making better decisions. 


Fear is the first obstacle. FEAR is a powerful acronym in 12 step programs. It stands for False Evidence Appearing Real which means what you fear rarely happens.

What gets in the way of making decisions

What gets in the way of making decisions

Assuming a negative outcome prevents you from taking action. You scare yourself into what could happen versus staying in the moment. Worrying about negative scenarios just creates more stress and who needs that?

Think back to past fears. Did any of them actually come true? Probably not! Just because you have thoughts doesn't mean they're right. 

Ask yourself, "Is there any truth to this or am I just scaring myself?" 

Think back to what you learned growing up. 

  • What were you taught about making decisions?

  • Did you learn to trust or doubt yourself?

  • Were you shown how to make good decisions?

Once these old beliefs are identified you can make a different choice. Growing up you probably didn't question them but as an adult, are they working for you now?

Doubting Yourself

Self-doubt is a major culprit in decision-making. When you doubt yourself it's often traced back to old childhood messages. Maybe it's a parent's voice in your head saying you don't know what you're doing.

By identifying the quality of your self-talk you can start to change it. 

For example:

"You can't do anything right" becomes "I can handle this."

The Role of Addiction

If you struggle with substances or compulsive behaviors, decision-making is difficult. The ability to think gets hijacked by the time and energy is spent on the addiction. 

There are many kinds of addiction - not just alcohol and drugs. People use food, shopping, sex, prescription pills, gambling, gaming, etc. to escape their problems and cope with life. 

The obsessive thinking that accompanies addiction clouds your judgement. Rational thought takes a back seat because getting the substance becomes the priority. The addictive cycle becomes the primary coping mechanism for handling stress.

If substances or compulsive activities are impacting your choices, it may be time to get help. Getting involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, related 12 step groups, or individual counseling can help. 


Are you tired of making decisions for everyone else but you? If you make decisions based on what others think, choices get pretty limited. Pleasing others to get approval is exhausting. It also leads to resentment and frustration.

People-pleasing is part of codependency. It hides true feelings and over time you're not sure what your truth is.  If you struggle with codependency you help others at your own expense. After awhile, that gets old, doesn't it? To read more click here Are You Codependent?

Finding a Solution

You can't fix a problem unless you admit that something is wrong. If you're ready to start making decisions for yourself here’s what you can do.

First, take a quick inventory of how you make decisions. How has fear, self-doubt, addiction and/or people-pleasing impacted your ability to make good choices? Write it out. When you know what's holding you back, you’ll know what you need to focus on.

Trusting yourself is at the heart of decision making. This develops with practice and a willingness to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. Perfectionism keeps you in fear. Be patient with yourself. Start small with the little things to gain confidence. Click here to read How to Start TrustingYourself.

When Making Decisions...

  • Will you be happy with this decision a year from now?

  • Who does this choice benefit in the long run?

  • What does your intuition tell you?

  • Are you doing this for yourself or someone else?

  • Talk your choices out with a trusted friend.

  • Don't rush to make a quick decision.

Making decisions is about how to take appropriate action when needed. Tune into what’s important to you first before gathering outside evidence. Give yourself permission to fail. Honoring what you need is critical to making decisions that you can live with later. it just takes practice, not being perfect.

What gets in the way for you?

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