Deborah Smith is a positive psychologist specialising in the science of happiness and mindfulness.
She has more than 25 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and is here to help, so email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a terrible ditherer! From food to fitness or even small everyday life choices. How can I get better at making decisions. Samantha Watersmith, Stratford
The first thought that came to my mind when reading your question was, what’s really causing you to dither? Although it might appear to be coming from your subconscious, if you take the time to ask yourself what’s really going on, a little voice inside you might come up with an answer you hadn’t considered. I wonder whether this could be an avoidance technique? Maybe you dodge decisions because you don’t have faith in yourself? Or are you afraid of getting it wrong? These are two common reasons why people avoid or delay making their mind up. You might even try to persuade people to make choices on your behalf because you trust their judgement more than your own. In that case, you might secretly tell yourself that if it turns out to be the wrong decision, then it as their mistake, not yours.
This pattern of behaviour can undermine your confidence when making up your mind about anything and therefore reinforce a negative belief that you’re not up to the task.
The only way to build belief in yourself is by challenging that negative view and telling yourself that you can be trusted. Push yourself to make simple choices at first, and congratulate yourself afterwards. You’ll feel your confidence building with every decision you make, big or small.
HOW TO STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF
LEARN TO JUST LET GO
Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, say to yourself ‘let it go’ and visualise breathing out your worry. You will immediately feel more relaxed and less anxious.
SWITCH YOUR FOCUS
Start doing something that requires complete focus – ideally an activity you enjoy. For example, cooking a healthy meal, calling a friend to chat or going for a walk.
If you find yourself starting to worry again, repeat the first two steps above. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat them – you will be retraining your brain each time.
Mantra: ‘act as if’
Need a wellbeing boost this summer? Think how would I behave if I felt happy/confident/relaxed? Try to act as if you are feeling that way and over time it could become genuine.