Today SBTS features a guest post by friend and colleague, Terry Huff, LCSW. Terry is the author of Living Well With ADHD, and in keeping with our theme of decision-making, he shares his take on the challenges of making clear choices. Read on for insight and inspiration...
How often have you said something like this to yourself: I just need to make a decision and move on, but I feel stuck. I should know what I want, but I don't. I've been asked to make a choice…what if I make the wrong choice? I've made bad decisions before; I must research this until I am certain not to regret my choice. I get buyer's remorse; I need someone to assure me.
Adults with ADHD often have trouble making decisions, even simple ones over insignificant matters, like this: Should I start cooking breakfast now, or take out the trash first? If I take out the trash first, I will have to wash my hands before I can even start cooking, and then I will be putting eggshells into a fresh trash bag. But if I don't get the trash out early, I might miss the garbage pickup…what day is this?
I recently heard a man with ADHD say that his goal for getting things done had little to do with making a decision. His goal was not to get stuck. For him, getting stuck had been a bigger problem than making "bad decisions."
Do you ever research a subject exhaustively in an effort to avoid making the wrong decision? On the other hand, do you sometimes make an impulsive decision to avoid wrestling with brain-numbing details? Between these polar opposites is good enough, having sufficient information to choose and move on. Good enough requires a flexible mind. But an inflexible mind tries to (1) eliminate the possibility of a mistake, or (2) avoid ambiguity and mental fatigue. The obsessive mind becomes immobilized trying to get settled instead of acting, while the impulsive mind decides on the run and then pays a price for overlooking essential details.
Another hurdle in making decisions involves preference. Are you attuned to your preferences? Do you avoid expressing them because they may be disregarded or challenged? When your partner asks you to decide and then criticizes your decision, do you give up? There are ways to convey preferences assertively, despite how you feel.
If there is a movie you want to watch with your mate, consider expressing your preference as a request: "I would love to have a movie date with you tonight; will you consider watching Marriage Story with me?" If you only want a date with your partner and don't care what movie you watch, you might defer your preference: "I prefer that you choose the movie tonight."
Then there is this phenomenon we call confidence. You may believe you need confidence to assert your preference. That seems backwards to me. Simple action looks confident, but it is nothing more than just being, instead of trying to be. The more you idealize confidence and strive for it, or envy someone who appears to have it, the further you will be from it. When you stop concerning yourself with lacking confidence and simply act, you will start to feel confident. As psychologist and author Steven Hays puts it, "Get out of your mind and into your life."
Willingness to act can override self-doubt. When an acting student at the Julliard School of Performing Arts asked Julia Roberts where she got her confidence, Roberts replied, "I wasn't always confident…just fake it til you make it." Reminding the students that they were actors, she said, "Act confident, and you will start to feel confident."
*Footnote: These thoughts are not original. They were inspired by members of ADDNashville, a support group that has been helping adults live well with ADHD since 2005. - TH
Many thanks to Terry for contributing today - I especially like his description of the polar opposites, and the concept of willingness to act. If you are curious to learn more, check out his website .
And where might these barriers to decision-making be showing up in your organizing adventures? Share your thoughts with us below...
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, dog-lover, author. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?