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Anxiety, Indecisiveness, and Frustration

February 4, 2016 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

A common effect of anxiety that can cause frustration is indecisiveness. Like depression and indecision, anxiety can make it difficult for people to make decisions, and not just the big, life decisions, either. With anxiety, it can be hard to make any decision, even ones that seem small and insignificant to others. This indecisiveness isn't intentional; instead, indecisiveness is an effect of anxiety that creates a high degree of frustration.

Anxiety can be like a merry-go-round. Imagine standing in the center of this classic piece of fairground equipment while it spins rapidly. The merry-go-round itself, the anxiety, surrounds you. It makes you sick and dizzy, yet you teeter to the edge in order to jump into your daily life. You want to jump off, you really do, but where? How do you make the right decision about anything? Anxiety leaves you spinning with indecisiveness and frustration.

Why Indecisiveness Is an Effect of Anxiety

Indecisiveness is a frustrating effect of anxiety and anxiety disorders. Here's how to end indecisiveness and it's frustrating effects. Take a look.

Any definition of anxiety typically includes words like worry, fear, apprehension, nervousness, dread, doom, and danger. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders, each with unique features but all sharing a variation of the worries, fears, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

No wonder anxiety can be like a spinning merry-go-round. Constant worries, fears, nervousness, and more occupy our mind and keep us spinning in place rather than moving forward. When it comes to decision-making, we spin with anxiety's thoughts of:

  • What if (fill in the blank)?
  • I'll say something stupid.
  • I'll do the wrong thing.
  • This, that, or the other bad thing might happen.
  • I could have a panic attack and people will see me.
  • I might get trapped and be unable to get home.
  • (Add your own unique worries, fears, and what-ifs.)

The challenges of living with anxiety are frustrating. When we can worry about so many consequences to every choice, we naturally become indecisive.

Anxiety's Indecisiveness Causes Frustration

People living with anxiety aren't intentionally indecisive. Being on the spinning merry-go-round of worry and fear just makes choices really hard.

  • In the grocery store: What cereal should I buy? I've been agonizing over the ingredients lists and nutrition information for 15 minutes, and I can't tell which one is better or worse.
  • In the morning: What should I wear? Maybe my blue shirt. But didn't people see me in that recently? What will they think? My red one? Too dressy? My flannel? Too casual?
  • Deciding on dinner: Make something? Go out? Order in? Have I made too much chicken recently? Am I supposed to have beef four times a week or just two? What's healthiest? What's the least expensive? What if my decisions are wrong? Am I making us all candidates for cancer?

These are but a few examples of anxiety and indecisiveness. This difficulty with decision-making can feel frustrating.

What To Do about Anxiety and Indecisiveness

Ironically, jumping off the anxious merry-go-round and into a decision begins with a decision. What's worse for you, indecisiveness or the frustration it causes? If your answer is the frustration, there are steps you can begin to take to end indecision.

  • Start very small. Leaping into big decisions will likely increase anxiety and make future decisions more intimidating.
  • When making a decision, jot down all of the consequences, positive and negative, that pop into your mind. Don't judge; just write. Then, take an honest look at your list. Are your thoughts trustworthy? Cross off consequences that aren't very realistic. Look at what's left. Is anything truly likely to ruin your life or the life of someone you care about?
  • Add playfulness. Anxiety is heavy, so is decision-making. For small decisions, throw caution to the wind and make the decision in a light-hearted way. Flip a coin. Roll a die. Draw straws. Small choices that are made lightly can reduce indecisiveness.

Anxiety, indecisiveness, and frustration are a tight-knit friendship group. They can leave you spinning instead of moving forward. This is a common effect of anxiety, but you don't have to live with this frustrating indecisiveness forever.

Let's connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, February 4). Anxiety, Indecisiveness, and Frustration, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/02/anxiety-indecisiveness-and-frustration



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Vanessa
August, 23 2018 at 4:34 pm

I have anxiety and indecisive nature when it comes to my friends. I remember something someone has done and I feel hatred and I start to panic then get indecisive over what to do and become dipshit

Desmond sengupta
March, 8 2018 at 12:49 am

Actually my sister suffered an accident 3 years back and i didn't take it well because the other person died in the accident I was.depressed about this for 2 yrs I now suffer from ptsd can you pls help

Benjamin Adams
February, 10 2016 at 4:31 am

I'm definitely learning to slow down especially when I'm feeling anxious. Luckily I have an understanding boss that doesn't put me in the spotlight or expect me to be able to give presentations, that's when it can get hard. I often doubt everything I've done and think that if I don't get feedback on every little bit of work , then I must've done something wrong. But, my boss reassures me that no feedback is good, he'll tell me if I need to improve or be more productive. I often say to myself when I'm feeling particularly anxious, well it's going to be rubbish so may as well not do it. Which is not good.
I'm trying though and it's a learning curve for me. One thing I hate is being bored and so my anxiety pushes me to keep working in one way and I can't just sit there twiddling my thumbs.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 10 2016 at 12:31 pm

Hi Benjamin,
You have great insight into your anxiety and the thoughts it causes. Awareness is the key to the learning curve you mentioned. You're not alone in your thoughts about feedback. Many people living with anxiety, myself included, have an instinctive thought/fear that no feedback means horrible things. I do know that your boss is right because I've heard very similar things spoken to me and to others. Anxiety can make it hard to trust -- not just others, but ourselves, too. Take what your boss says at face value, and focus on the fact that because he's not giving you suggestions for improvement, you're doing well. And keep looking for evidence that you're doing well.
It can be a good thing that you hate being bored. Diving into both work and leisure can occupy your mind and divert your attention from anxiety. Sometimes, distraction goes a long way. As we pursue our passions, anxiety gradually recedes further and further into the background. Enjoy not being bored!

Charlotte Rogers
February, 6 2016 at 12:12 am

My day is high level stress. I have anxiety about my stress. I worry my stress changes by behavior and people will notice and then they would judge me. I have anxiety about how people are me and how they think about me. I never think I am doing good enough thatbmy best and everyone see that's. And they are judging me and sees me as a bad person, a bad mother. Then itball make sense to me. I start to think about every thing wrong I did to attrubute to my family's life. I blame my self every day for taking my kids dad away from my children. I let them down . I had had enough. I was tired I'm still tired. I feel as they don't understand why I am doing this and how long it took me to break away.. It Hurts mw that theybblame me. I did my all to do what I thought was bestbfor my children and I still do. I just feel angry about if. I don't even feel as if I enjoy being a mother sometimes. It feels like a burden to me. I have been working so hard and trying to do my best to provide for my kids. I have been pushing myself and I don't know how much farther I can go. I am at the point where I can even plan my days or keep plans or try to make plans or change my mind all the time. Now it's I have anxiety about how the day goes. I break it down day by day , in small pieces , let's gets breakfast out the way and we will do this for lunch and my mind ends up changing 2 or 3 times before lunch and still change my mind. Or even p planning an outing to the park. I will tell the kids we will do it in the morning and it will turn into the afternoon and then I just can't calm my anxiety about getting all th e kids ready, getting them in the car, getting them buckled. Making it to the park... Sitting and watching them play and then I start to rush them because I feel as if everyone is talking about me then the kids through a fit all the way home. ..thisbisbwhy i delay foinv out or keepinv pushing days out...,... And i have ao mucb worry aboht how its gojng to make me feel. And the screaming is just getting to a point of like trigger. I just can't take the screaming and crying anymore... It boggles my head ans I start screaming at the kids and I get so upset that they just don't understand how much I do for them and they have no respect for me...but can't complain about it, because I have been raising them so its my fault they act they way they do...... My life everyday is never ending and never changing... I keep with the routine as best as I can . and it's just chaos from wake up to bed time...its fighting and screaming and crying.... I listen to music and hearing screaming and crying in the background when I'm alone in the car... I worry about not be able to go to the Dr about my anxiety, because it takes me weeks to work up to calling them to set an inspection... I know they see me as a crazy person ... I worry about going to my appts and most the time cancel, because I get to worked up to go....then trying to find time to go...dint like asking time OK ff of work, I want them to know I'm a team player.....I worry about everything that doesn'tatter that I can't focus plan any normal grown up responsibility.. Like getting the bills paid, budgeting or even what's for dinner. I can't keep up with all the kids school progress...its too much...I don't support them enough with their school and work . I am too busy worrying about things that don't matter. Great mom, huh. Then everyone tells me over and over again I'm s great mother, and I feel as if I'm portraying s lie. I feel my kids deserve more...... It's too much to explain.... I have lesrnefcacwsy of living where I think I'm going all I can. But then know I'm not at the same time... Doesnt make since ..... How is it that no one can see that I'm not functioning the best but me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 8 2016 at 11:59 am

Hello Charlotte,
It sounds like you are dealing with a lot. Stress and anxiety are a natural result of dealing with so much, including single parenting. It can be very difficult for anyone to deal with this and sort through it alone. It's very possible to treat this type of anxiety and live a life that feels much less overwhelming and burdensome. Finding support goes a very long way in helping people deal with this level of stress and anxiety. I've listed a few articles that were written to help people find and maximize support as well as a link to a crisis hotline with people available online or via chat for support. They can often even point you to local resources. Keep doing what you're doing -- reading blogs and articles and reaching out. This anxiety doesn't have to control you forever.
Types of Behavioral and Mental Health Help: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-behavioral-and-me…
Where to Find Mental Health Help: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/i-need-mental-help-where-t…
Speaking Out For Yourself: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/speaking-out-for-yourself-…
Mental Health Counseling: How it Works, Benefits: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/mental-health-counseling-h…
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

John
February, 4 2016 at 7:53 pm

Nice article. Two years ago I made bad business decisions at the height of anxiety. I am learning to slow down.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 5 2016 at 7:56 pm

Hi John,
Anxiety can certainly interfere in our lives, including decision-making. Becoming aware of it, deciding what to do, and learning to do it is a process that takes time but is a definite way to end this aspect of anxiety -- just like you are doing. Be kind to yourself as you keep on learning and doing. :)

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