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Short and Sweet Summary: Understanding and accepting that we are allowed to change our minds and decisions don’t have to be final, helps to bring the second-guessing anxiety level down a bit. It’s incredibly hard to know if you’re doing things right when everything is left up to you. But it gets easier when you realize you don’t have to be perfect or “right” all the time.
We all have a host of idiosyncrasies that make us adorably human.
Without my quirky personality traits, I wouldn’t be uniquely me.
However, I have several personality traits that I’m not particularly fond of, like my procrastination tendencies. Oh sweet Jesus, why can’t I complete my to-do list? Or my inability to be spontaneous. If it’s not on my calendar it ain’t happening.
Talk about a buzz kill.
But if second-guessing the shit out of every possible decision was an Olympic sport I’d be a freaking gold medalist. I am a second-guessing superstar. The fucking Queen of Second-Guessing. I make second-guessing an art form.
Being a widow doesn’t help matters, here. Let’s be real. It’s a huge burden to be the sole decision-maker for your immediate and possibly extended family. I shrink under the weight of every single, solitary decision that falls squarely on my shoulders. It’s not that I make decisions lightly and regret it.
No, no, nooooooo. Quite the opposite.
I review every possible outcome from every angle at every intersection and still end up questioning everything. It’s exhausting. I mean, how ridiculous is it to make a decision, regret the decision, figure out ways to change the decision only to circle back to my original decision in the first place? It’s absurd!
If you’re like me and are ready to put an end to the lunacy that is second-guessing every decision you make, read on.
I’ll show you five ways to stop the second-guessing curse.
BTW: Every time I say “you” and “your” I’m really referring to me, myself and I. Because I need to hear this as much as you do.
Not Every Decision is Final
The biggest revelation for me in my quest to end my second-guessing agony is that not every decision is final.
Part of my problem in the past is assuming that once I make a decision it’s irreversible and I’m doomed to repeat my bad decision over and over again.
Few decisions are irreversible. If you find something isn’t working out the way you planned, make a change.
I decided not to pay off my mortgage when my husband died. I could have, but I didn’t. We already paid extra toward the principal every month since we bought the house so we were on track to pay it off in 15 vs. 30 years anyway. I chose to invest the money that I would have used to pay off the mortgage instead.
Boy, did I second-guess that decision for months. Months!
After the first year of second-guessing whether I should pay off my mortgage or not, it dawned on me I could change my mind at any time. The anxiety I felt for making the “wrong” decision was replaced by a willingness to continue down my current path because I worked, so I could still make the mortgage payments and let my investment grow. I didn’t pay off my mortgage balance until four years after my husband died when I decided I had enough and wrote the final check.
You are allowed to change your mind. Whenever you want. Not every decision you make requires you to stick with it forever and ever.
You’re More Resilient Than You Think You Are
So, let’s say you make a bad decision.
Was it the end of the world?
No. The sun still rose in the morning and so did you.
You’ve suffered a loss most people never have to experience and you’re still here to tell about it.
Resilience is your middle name, sister.
Even if you make a bad decision you can most certainly bounce back from it. I know you can because you buried your husband. If you can do that, you can do anything for fuck’s sake.
Change your mind. Regroup. Take a different path.
Your resilience is in high gear these days so use it to your advantage.
How many times have you had to change course since your husband died? I change course DAILY. Take whatever “bad” decision you think you made and change it.
You’ve developed resilience for a reason.
Now is the time to use it.
Remember Your Wins
Remember all the decisions you made before that were spot on? Yes, the 12,463,118 decisions you made before today?
You’ve got this.
Don’t second-guess yourself because you already know you make good decisions.
You are thoughtful about the process, weigh the pros and cons and don’t treat your major decisions lightly. The checks in your “win” column far outweigh any checks in the “didn’t-go-as-planned” column.
Take a few minutes to remember your wins. The times you trusted your gut and everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Write those motherfuckers down. Pin the list of wins to your mirror. Tape it to your desk. Read it every morning. Meditate on that shit.
Train your brain to stop second-guessing by remembering all the times you got it right.
Let Go of Perfection
Aren’t all second-guessing superstars perfectionists too?
I know I am! Good lord almighty, I have to let go of this perfectionist bullshit. I can’t do everything right all the time. It’s impossible. I finally had a revelation that my husband wasn’t perfect and I let him off the hook. Now it’s time to let me off the hook too.
Letting go of perfection means giving yourself permission to make progress instead of expecting everything to be “right” all the time. There’s no need to second-guess every decision because progress, by its very definition, moves us toward a higher goal. Regardless of whether our decision turns out good or bad, we’ve moved forward and learned something in the process.
Mistakes are really only opportunities to learn something new.
If we reframe the lies we tell ourselves, the “you’re an idiot for making a stupid decision” is replaced with “wow, you really learned some valuable information that’ll help guide your future decision-making skills you freaking superstar, you!”
You have to trust yourself enough to know that every decision provides you with the gift of understanding. The gift of knowledge you didn’t have before. You are only one person taking on the extraordinary job of deciding everything that happens to you and your family.
Trust that you are competent and capable of making decisions in the best interest of everyone involved.
You can do this.
Widow Wrap Up
It’s incredibly hard to know if you’re doing things right when everything is left up to you.
Understanding and accepting that we are allowed to change our minds and decisions don’t have to be final helps to bring the second-guessing anxiety level down a bit. You don’t have to be perfect or “right” all the time. All you need to do is make a decision based on the information you have at the moment.
It’s all you can do.
And you’re doing an amazing job.
Keep that shit up!
Are you a second-guessing superstar? Share your details in the comments.