Flip-flopping may be driving you (and probably everyone around you) batty, but there’s no formal diagnosis for this disorder. It’s a habit, and like most habits, it can be broken.
The first thing to figure out is what’s causing you to flip-flop.There are many possibilities:
- Fear of making a mistake.
- Fear of appearing foolish.
- Fear of people judging you for liking something (or someone) they don’t.
- Seeing the pros and cons of most options.
- Not wanting to miss out on something.
- Knowing that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.
- Fear of negative consequences: danger, failure, exposure, punishment, financial loss.
- Not trusting yourself.
- Not knowing what to say. (Download Express Yourself Ecards App for help with this.)
- Not believing you have the strength to deal with the consequences.
- You need help sorting through the options.
- You’re waiting for someone else to decide so you don’t get blamed.
- Fear of change.
- Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.
- Not wanting to appear selfish.
- Knowing that either choice will cause pain to someone.
- Not wanting to make someone angry.
- Not wanting to feel rushed into something.
- Not sure you deserve the ‘better’ option.
- A part of you wants one thing and another part of you wants something different.
These are a few reasons people get stuck on the spin cycle. In some cases, the problem is crippling, especially when it’s about staying or leaving a relationship, either because you’re not sure you can do better, or because you’re dependent on the other person. Seeing a therapist can help you with this, as can talking with friends who are willing to give you honest feedback, and help you see things more clearly.
The second thing you can do is behavioral. It’s the “Just Do it!” approach. Take decisive action. Period. You don’t need to be sure of anything. Just do something. In fact, I recommend that you practice doing something every day that gets you out of the spin cycle.
Start with things you know are of little consequence. For example, order food off a menu with your eyes closed. You’ll survive. Sign up for a yoga class and go. Don’t spend any time thinking about it. Show up 10 minutes early and leave early if you must. But go.
Wear two socks that don’t match. Eat dessert first. On Monday, say yes to anything anyone asks you to do, as long as it’s reasonable. On Tuesday, make a random list of 10 things you’ve been putting off and rank them 1–10. Next to each one, write down how long each will take to complete. Then pick the one that can be done in the least amount of time and put it on your calendar for sometime this week. Then do it. Approach it the way you approach a hair appointment. You just go.
If you’re wondering if you should call someone back, flip a coin and follow through on whichever choice the coin dictates. You will survive. The sun will still come up. And over time, you will break the habit of hesitating. It’s eating up precious time you could be spending moving forward through your life.
Here are some things you can say to yourself that may help:
- Any action is better than no action.
- There is no ‘right answer.
- I won’t get to do either A or B if I don’t make a choice.
- A mistake isn’t the end of the world.
- Deciding is better than agonizing.
- I will survive either way.
- I’m not that important. If I say no, they’ll find someone else.
- I need to do this for me. I matter.
- I don’t need to know for sure. I just need to decide.
- If both options are evenly matched, I can make either one work.
- I can’t control what other people think.
- It’s not cancer. It’s just ________. (Fill in the blank. Ex. “It’s just money.” “It’s just a few hours of my time.” “It’s just annoying.”
- The worst thing that can happen is that_______. Ex. “I learn a valuable lesson.” “I get fired and have to find another job.” “It takes longer than I hoped.”
The best strategy always the one that works best for you. You’ll figure that out over time. Read through the lists above again and highlight any that ring true. Then take action. You can do this!