December 7, 2021

Episode 16: Indecision

Have you ever agonized over a decision? You find merits or problems to all options, you can’t find convincing input for either side, you second-guess yourself, you worry that you might regret your decision, you let time decide for you... And once you’ve decided, you find all the reasons to regret your move. One thing you can be sure you won’t regret is listening to this episode.

What you will discover

  • Why indecision feels like being in the fog
  • 3 assumptions that put us there in the first place
  • How to know if you have the right information
  • Trust your way out of the fog
  • Indecision shows you your path to self-confidence
  • How to create clarity and decide, right now


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

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Episode Transcript

it's a little bit like you're in the fog and you're under this illusion that at some point the fog will part and there will be this golden ray of light coming from above and that will touch your forehead. And then you will Know.

Hi, welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo.

Today, I want to talk about what happens when we are agonizing over a decision. You know, you're stuck in confusion or in indecision, or in doubt, which is pretty much the same thing at different degrees. And you're looking for that extra bit of information that is suddenly going to make everything click into place and you're going to know exactly which of the decisions that you've been contemplating you should be taking.

So, the decision that you're looking to take can be anything from, you know, what color of lamp you should buy for your living room, to which of the two jobs that I've been offered should I take. It can be anything high and low. But the feeling is the same. It’s this feeling that you don't have enough information.

And that you're looking for that one piece of information that will suddenly make you sure that you're going in the right direction. And it's a little bit like you're in the fog and you're under this illusion that at some point the fog will part and there will be this golden ray of light coming from above and that will touch your forehead. And then you will Know with a big capital K, you know.

And that doesn't really happen. What happens is that there is no right decision. There is only the decision that you will decide is the right one. But the difference is that when you're feeling confident, you take a decision. You have exactly as much information on the table, but you take a decision and confidence feels good in your body.

And so it feels as if this is the right decision, and when you're in indecision, you have exactly the same amount of information on the table. And when you take a decision, it does not feel good in the body because indecision does not feel good. So, the decision is self is not better or less good when you are feeling confident or when you're feeling indecisive.

It’s just that the feeling, the sensation in your body is different. So when we are in indecision, there's a number of assumptions that we make that are incorrect. And I would like to talk to you about them today, so that you're able to step out of them and take decisions from a better feeling than indecision, which is definitely not helping.

So this first assumption that we make when we are in indecision, is that there is a correct answer. And as I just mentioned, there is no correct answer. There is only the one answer that you will decide is the correct one, and that you will put all your energy into making work out and into being the right answer.

The second assumption that we make, is that indecision is just something that happens to us. We tell ourselves “this is confusing”. Or “this is difficult to decide” as if it was a property of the choice in front of us, but in fact, in decision is coming from what we are telling ourselves. Indecision is a feeling and so it's coming from what we are telling ourselves about that situation.

So we are looking at the different choices that we have and we are telling ourselves “this is confusing”, “I don't know what to do”, “I have no clear no clue what the next step is”, “this is unclear”. So we are telling ourselves a lot of things which are creating the confusion. And then the third mistake that we make, when we are in indecision, is that we think that not making a decision is simply delaying the decision.

But not making the decision is actually the decision to stay with the status quo, right? So we are deciding to stay where we are right now. We are embracing right now and that is a decision, right? So don't get fooled by this idea that not making a decision is delaying the decision. It's not at all like that. You are actually making a decision. You're just not noticing it, that's all.

So I want to give you an image that I use very often with my clients to explain how indecision works and how you can take yourself out of it. So I want you to imagine that you're going on a hike. You have a map. You don't have a compass and you're going on a hike and you're hiking along. It’s the mountains. It's beautiful. There's some forest. There's some lakes. It's very nice. You're hiking along.

And then you get a little bit lost in your thoughts. And you don't really notice, you don't really pay attention to where you're going and at some point you end up… You’re in a big field or something. You're not really sure. And there's a huge amount of fog everywhere.

There is so much fog that you have to imagine that if you extend your arms, you cannot even see your hands at the end of your arms. You're standing in this fog and you're looking at your map and you're pouring over your map and you're trying to look at every single detail on your map in the hope that the map will tell you, which direction you need to move in.

So that's the exact equivalent of, you know, gathering information in order for you to make a decision. But the thing is, since you cannot see the landscape around you, and since you don't have a compass, you cannot orientate yourself, so you have no idea where is the North where is the South where is East where is West. And so you can look at that map all you want. There's a lot of information on that map.

There's a lot of details but it's not going to tell you which direction to move in. And if you stay put like this; if you stay in the fog in that very dense fog looking at that map, you can stay there for hours and hours and hours. You're not going to find any answer. But what's going to happen is that you're going to get more and more tired. You're going to get more and more cold.

You're going to get more and more hungry. So, you're depleting your resources by staying in indecision, but it's in no way helping you identify where you are and where you should be going. So the only way to act in this kind of situation is that you need to start moving forward. And it literally does not matter which direction you go in.

You just need to get to start moving and to get moving forward. So you pick a decision, sorry, a direction, any direction doesn't matter. And you start walking in this direction. And eventually, at some point, you will end up in a place where there is no fog, and it might take a couple of minutes. It might take a couple of hours. But at some point, that's the nature of fog, you will end up in a place where there is no fog.

And when there is no fog, you're going to be able to see a little bit better the landscape around you. And based on that landscape, you're going to be able to orientate yourself with the map and then suddenly the map will become useful. Because then you're going to be able to identify where you are.

And when you identify where you are, you can decide where you want to go. And maybe you don't know what is the end goal of your journey, but maybe you can decide: oh, the top of that mountain sounds good; or it seems that there's a lake in that direction. I can go in that direction.

And when you get yourself out of the fog, and you orientate yourself, it could be that you need to back track your steps a little bit in order to get to where you have decided that you want to go. But that's okay because when you're backtracking your step and there is no fog and you know exactly where you're going, it takes literally no time and it's actually pleasant because you can discover this landscape that you didn't see before there was fog everywhere, right?

So don't make it a big deal that you're going in a direction that might not be that the right one or that could be the opposite of the direction that you will end up going into. Because that's just temporary. It's just a way for you to orientate yourself and figure out where you want to go. You’re sort of calibrating your GPS, if you please.

So it's exactly the same when you are in reality and you're trying to make a decision and you have a lot of information. Just pick a decision, just pick a direction. Go into that direction. And by moving forward, you will gather a lot of information that will help you understand if the decision that you made is something that you're happy with or not happy.

And if you're not happy, you will be able to make adjustments. So you're going to tell me, yeah, but Mélanie there's many cases in which the decision is a very big one and there's very big consequences. And if I make the wrong decision, then I'm screwed. Then there's very big consequences. Well, the thing is that like with everything in life, what you need to understand is that the only thing that creates your feelings are your thoughts.

It's never the circumstances. So if you do take a decision that ends up bringing consequences that you're not happy about; if you're not happy about the consequences. It's not because of the consequences. It's because of what you're telling yourself of the consequences. And so I'm not telling you that you need to think positive. I hate that and this is never my advice.

I'm telling you that you need to carefully consider before taking the decision. How are you going to treat yourself in the event that the consequences of your decision are not the one that you were hoping for.

So what does this mean in practice? Let me give you an example. I chose, it's a sad example, I have to warn you ahead of time and it's a bit of an extreme example, but I want you to understand what's possible even when something important is at stake and how you can handle difficult situations when you apply this this technique I just shared with you.

I had a little cat that I had had for several years and she was a lovely little cat and a few months ago, unfortunately, she was run over by a car. And so she managed to crawl back home, and she was in pretty bad shape. So, I took her to the vet and basically, the vet gave me the following choice.

They told me that they could either put her to sleep, or they could try to operate her to see if there was something that could be done. They didn't know if it was possible to save her. They would need to operate on her in order to figure out if that was possible. And that investigative operation was going to cost all the money that I had left in my savings.

And we didn't know if we were going to be able to save her. And what we knew for a fact is that she was never going to walk again anyway. So I was very distressed and I was very sad and I was devastated that this cute and brave and lovely little little cat was in that that situation; and so abruptly and it was not at all expected.

And so I couldn't make a decision. I had a really hard time making a decision because if I did order the operation, that would put my business and the people who are depending on me financially in jeopardy. And if I didn't order the operation, of course, I felt like I was a heartless and disloyal person, of course.

And so I couldn't take a decision because of course, neither side of the alternative was possible. And if you remember episode 2, when I spoke about impossible choices, that was typically an impossible choice. So what I did is that I asked myself why I was going to take the decision that I was leaning on taking and how I would treat myself down the line once I had taken it.

So, the decision that made sense was to put that little cat to sleep. And so before I took the decision, I needed to decide how was I going to treat myself down the line. Like, what was going to happen 3, 6 months from now, 10 years from now when I thought of that little cat?

Was I going to never forgive myself for having put her to sleep and for not having tried to do the investigative operation and for letting money come into the way of the relationship I had with that little cat. It's a friendship of sorts if you will.

And what I figured out is that in order for me not to treat myself like a heartless and disloyal person down the line, I needed to know that I was never ever again going to be in a situation where I had to take such a decision because of money.

And so, what I decided was that I was going to put that little cat to sleep and I was going to make it count. Like I was going to make sure that I would show up to work every single day with renewed dedication and renewed determination to make my business work financially so that I would have enough savings so that if – and I really hope it never happens again – but if I should be in a situation like that again, where the health of somebody that I love is at stake and money is the reason for the decision.

Well, I want to make sure that I have enough money so that I can take the decision that that feels the best, right? And so we decided, I mean, I decided and the vet put the little cat to sleep and it was very, very sad. And now it's been six months and I miss my little cat and I think of her often, but I have never regretted the decision I took.

I have never blamed myself for taking such a decision. And I have never been harsh on myself about it because I am actually showing up to work with a lot of dedication and determination. And I am doing my best in order to make that painful experience count and use this to fuel myself for the days when I don't feel like working or and when I'm scared to do something that I should do for my business.

I remind myself of that story and suddenly my decision from six months ago has become a major fuel for my business and it has become… The decision suddenly has a lot of sense and it doesn't make the decision any lighter and it doesn't make the decision any any nicer to take and I really don't want to be in a situation like this ever again.

But it makes the decision possible to take. And that's really what I want to offer: is investigate how are you going to treat yourself down the line. And what do you need to do right now or to tell yourself or what would need to happen for you to be able to treat yourself in a kind and respectful way down the line. And that's really what you need to figure out.

And once you have figured that out, then it's possible for you to take the decision. It never makes the decision happy or easy or whatever, but it makes it possible. And that's what you're after. You’re after getting unstuck and figuring out which branch of the alternative you need to go into.

So know that the real problem when your indecision is that you are actually very scared of how you're going to treat yourself down the line if the decision that you're taking has consequences that you don't like or that you do that are that you consider yourself to be a sign that you're not good enough, that you're not good person, that you're not doing the right thing.

And decide right now how you're going to treat yourself if those consequences should happen. And by taking the decision, you're going to make decision on the actual course of action much easier. So basically, whenever you're taking a decision, you have two decisions to make. You have the decision about the thing is, it plan is A, is it plan B.

And then you have the decision on how you're going to treat yourself, should the direction that you're taking not be the one that you hope for yourself. So I've put some good thoughts in the show notes that you can use in order to help you through that process. As well as a few great questions that you can ask yourself, that will help you assess what you really think about the different options on the table and that will help you take a step forward and bring some clarity.

But not the clarity that you think that will come from accumulating more information. But the clarity that comes from considering how you are actually feeling about the decision and how you are anticipating that you might feel if the consequences of the decisions are not the one that you hope for.

If you like what you heard, go to my website That's Excellent Rider in one word dot com and get the episode notes. They are organized in a structured way that makes them easy to remember and there are additional exercises and illustrations that you don't get in the audio. If you really liked what you heard, go to your podcast platform and leave me a review. You can Google how to do that if you're not sure how to proceed.

This helps the podcast be more visible. It means that it will be easier to find for other people who need to hear exactly this message, and it's also a great encouragement for me. If you felt that this information was valuable, it's the absolute best way to let me know. I personally answer everyone who is kind enough to leave a review. Thanks a lot for listening today.

I hope to talk to you again very soon because you, my friend, even when you cannot get yourself to do what you want; even when you are stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops; and even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it, you absolutely rock. And you'll soon be an excellent rider. Because there's no bad horses, only untrained riders.

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