Indecision – does it drive you crazy?

Written by Emma Evans

July 3, 2023

I have some free time today. I seldom have a day with nothing planned and I had been looking forward to it. Are you, like me experiencing a surge in demand lately? I definitely feel discomfort when I have to say no to prospective clients. I sometimes have clients who wish to return, so we have an existing relationship, and they are even harder to say no to. Consequently, I have increased my working hours little by little to accommodate and assuage my discomfort. I know, this is probably a clear sign I need to work on my boundaries!  

Anyway, today is a free day. And I find that I am dithering over deciding how to spend my time. Chores are done, dogs are walked, few bits of admin all done so now what? Do I want to tackle something from the domestic to-do list? Do I want to go for a leisurely drive out? I really do need to decide or the day will slip away won’t it?

What about clients who have this same issue? Do you often have clients who come with a pattern of indecisiveness and seem very stuck? How do you prefer to work with this subject? 

As a Transactional Analyst I often think first of the Inner Child who I can often hear through the client’s words. I might hear that Child say “I’m scared to make a decision” or perhaps “I have never been given choice before”. Clients often feel a sense of relief when I tentatively offer such a suggestion. If the insight resonates, then the work might move on to either soothing and supporting the Child or even taking over and allowing the Adult to take care of the issue. 

At other times, I might help the client tune into their gut response. A supervisor I used to see would use coloured felt squares and invite us to choose a colour to represent each option. We would then stand on each square and say whatever emerged and by stepping back and forth between the options, one would have a greater pull. Clients like this technique and usually find that their true choice comes to the fore. 

Webster’s dictionary definition: is a wavering between two or more possible courses of action: IRRESOLUTION. There may be some secondary gain in not reaching a resolution. Being curious about how this could benefit the client, even in a small way, can open up some interesting material to work with. 

How can we help clients to trust themselves, to build a sense of knowing? It may be that practicing on the small stuff can be really helpful such as do I want coffee or tea right now. These, often seemingly inconsequential things are handled outwith our conscious awareness and perhaps shining a spotlight on them can help clients see a previously hidden resource. 

Maybe it is useful to lessen the outcome. Asking the question, “will this thing matter in 5 years?” could add a little perspective. Working with the Be Perfect Driver can also be useful. There are 5 Drivers* and each is a defence so we want to honour that whilst adding to the client’s toolkit so s/he has choice. Giving ourselves to be “good enough” is a useful permission statement. 

And perhaps the indecision is a great way to buy some time and get additional information so could be considered a smart option. 

And as for my decision about free time today? I think my Be Perfect was running and I have decided that the chores can wait!

*The 5 Drivers are:

Be Perfect

Please Others

Try Hard

Hurry Up

Be Strong

By Cathie Hutchison

Cathie Hutchison Counselling



Published : Jul 3, 2023